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Inspiring tips for a low carbon festive season

Scientists around the world are calling for us to cut carbon, but what does that look like in our daily lives across the Harrogate District - especially in the season of giving?

Research by Leeds and York Universities has found that Christmas brings a significant increase in consumption and, as a result, carbon emissions. So here are some tips for a greener – and perhaps even more meaningful – festive season:


We use food to show love so it’s easy to get carried away – but food waste is a big part of our carbon footprints. Be thoughtful about portions size, shop local and organic where possible, swap beef or lamb for turkey, consider veggie sides, compost scraps and keep experimental cooking to small batches (I’m sure sous chefs will enjoy those baking trials).


Christmas visits to far away loved ones are a great opportunity to limit environmental impact. Travel together in lift-shares; consider cars over planes and trains/buses over cars; cycle or walk locally; check tyre tread and pressure for safety and fuel efficiency; relax and reduce motorway speed to 50 or 60 mph to lower fuel consumption; and use the stop/start function rather than idling in jams.


Staying cosy over the festive period can mean a spike in energy use. Four people radiate the same body heat as a radiator – so if you invite everyone over, break out the Christmas jumpers, hot chocolate and mulled wine and drop the thermostat a couple of degrees.


Leave the twinkling to Santa’s eyes and LED lights rather than older bulbs. LEDs use about 90% less energy, last 10-15 times longer and reduce fire risks. Consider using a timer so you can focus on the things that matter, like the pudding! And how about a switch to a renewable energy supplier, like Bulb or Good Energy?

Christmas Tree

Real trees have a much lower carbon footprint than artificial ones, especially if disposed of by wood-chipping. An artificial tree would need to be reused for ten years to be comparable. Pop real trees in the HBC garden waste brown bin, take it to a recycling centre or use Harrogate Rotary Club’s tree recycling scheme to raise funds for Horticap and other local charities.


Much like food, it’s easy to get carried away with gifts – but sometimes less is more. Try a reverse advent calendar, adding daily food, clothes or toys to a basket for donation. If forgoing gifts is not an option, a Secret Santa can limit the volume of (often unwanted) gifts. Try non-electronic, local and homemade gifts and environmentally conscious companies, like those at Harrogate Christmas Market.


Get ahead of clean-up by using gift bags over wrapping paper and being clear about what you can reduce, reuse, recycle or compost. LoveFoodHateWaste has recipe ideas for leftovers. Dishwashers are typically more efficient than washing by hand typically; rumour has it that it is most efficient when the non-chefs load it too...

We hope these tips inspire goodwill and good conversations about care for our planet and each other long into the future – and we wish you all happy, healthy, low-carbon Christmas!

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