British environmentalists are dreaming of a green Christmas.
Turn off the lights, turn down the heating, stay at home and wrap up warm they say in a message even Charles Dickens' penny-pinching Scrooge might have approved of.
Christmas lights illuminate Oxford street in London, November 15, 2005. Eager to capitalise on a wave of eco-awareness sweeping the country as politicians battle for green credentials, campaigners want people to give a gift to the planet instead of each other this Christmas. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
Eager to capitalize on a wave of eco-awareness sweeping the country as politicians battle for green credentials, campaigners want people to give a gift to the planet instead of each other.
Recycled wrapping paper and second-hand gifts are in, but visiting friends and family are not -- since travel adds too much to global warming -- and wine and food should be bought in moderation from local sources to reduce so-called food miles.
Even the glittering fairy, tinsel and baubles that traditionally adorn the Christmas tree should be shunned in favor of edible and biodegradable decorations such as popcorn or fruit which can be fed to the birds afterwards.
"Avoid anything that cannot be recycled or has not been made from recycled materials," the Green Guide for Christmas says.
According to Friends of the Earth environmental campaign group, which has also produced a green Christmas guide, the equivalent of 248,000 trees could be saved if Britons alone recycled, rather than threw away, the estimated 744 million Christmas cards sent each year.
Another 50,000 trees could be saved if the 83 square kilometers of wrapping paper that was thrown away last year was recycled this time around.
Campaigners suggest wrapping gifts in old newspaper or magazines, or at least buying wrapping paper made from recycled materials.
For the gifts themselves, second-hand can be imaginative, they say, and should not be seen as a "cheap option".
"Try flea markets, antique jewelry and vintage clothing shops for gifts," Friends of the Earth suggests.
And those who really want to go green this Christmas can forget that festive visit to granny or far-away friends. Leave the car in the garage, stay at home, and get online, campaigners say.
"The advances in modern communications technology make it possible to see and hear your kith and kind via the internet, and investing in a simple webcam setup can bring you closer," says the Green Guide.
"It is certainly worth trying out, as the saving in CO2, time and energy are considerable!"
© Reuters 2006