Food is a big part of Christmas celebrations all around the world. So naturally it is also a make or break situation for your plans to make your Christmas festivities sustainable and eco-friendly. From the shopping to your food choices to your menu, we have collected 5 tips to make your Christmas an all-around green success.
#1 Cut Food Waste
Food waste begins right at the preparation of your dinner. Vegetable ends and stalks, bones and carcasses are easily disregarded. But don’t just throw them out, there’s so much you can do with them! You can use those scraps for a lovely stock, because the ingredients don’t need to look nice, they just need to taste good. And those bones and veggie cuts contain all the good stuff. Even if you don’t need stock right now, you can always freeze them (we recommend using an ice cube tray for better portioning).
Okay, the stock tip might have been around for a while, but we have another idea for you: infused syrup. You probably used sage or other fresh herbs for your stuffing. If so, you are now left with some sad looking stalks. Resist the urge to throw them away, because they make for a very tasty infused syrup – just add one part sugar and two parts water and simmer them down. The syrup will contain all the flavour and tastes delicious in a cocktail. Huffington Post has a nice recipe for a cocktail with gin, blood orange juice, a splash of cava and sage syrup. And a non-alcoholic drink with fizzy water and lemon juice.
#2 Buy Locally and Organic
Buying organic, local products is always a plus. And it is also a tread! If you want to create a classy Christmas dinner it is best to use the best, most flavourful ingredients. And that always means buying local and organic. The longer your foods journey to you, the less flavour it will have, because it needs to be picked before it’s ripe and the longer it lays around in a truck or ship the less flavour and nutrients it will contain. If the ingredients you need for your dinner recipe are not seasonal, please consider buying them canned. Having your food flown in from all around the world really puts a dent in your effort to go green.
#3 Consider a Vegetarian Dinner
A good roast is part of most Christmas dinner traditions but for a guilt-free Christmas consider a vegetarian dinner. There are a lot of very tasty vegetarian Christmas recipes out there, like this cheese, cashew and walnut roast, and with all the new products even going vegan wouldn’t be a concession anymore.
According to a UN report, meat production is responsible for more of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions than cars. And feeding all the animals humans want to consume also destroys vast areas of rainforests. If Christmas isn’t Christmas without meat for you, Eco&Beyond has a list of the most environmentally friendly meat and an entire article about guilt-free Christmas options.
#4 Choose Eco-Friendly Packaging
Food is not the only source of waste in the Christmas dinner preparations. According to Recycle Now almost 3,000 tonnes of aluminium foil is wasted each Christmas. That is definitely to much! If you really have to use foil for your cooking, please collect and clean it – reuse it if possible – for recycling. If you usually use plastic and aluminium foil to pack up your leftovers, consider investing in a few good containers. You can even ask your guests to bring their own containers, if they want to take something home. They won’t mind. (Because we all know those nice food containers never make their way back to us!)
But your quest to avoid packaging waste could begin even earlier. Buy loose produce instead of pre-packed versions. Bring your trusty shopping and produce bags. Choose food with recyclable packaging, like cans and paper wrapping. Share a ride to the store with a friend.
#5 Leftover Goodness
It doesn’t matter how good your planning skills are, there will always be leftovers. After all, nobody wants their guests to get hungry. The key is to have a strategy to tackle the remains of your dinner. You don’t have to just reheat your leftovers, you could create a new dinner from them: Leftover vegetables and potatoes make a delicious bubble and squeak, dull, dry meat can become a crispy schnitzel with just a coat of egg yolk and breadcrumbs. Letting your leftovers sizzle in a frying pan will give them a whole new taste.