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Our Ultimate A-Z For A Grinch-free Green Christmas

With lots more focus on climate change in the media, many of us are hoping for a more planet friendly Christmas but need inspiration so here's our ultimate A-Z for a Grinch-free greener Christmas!

A is for Advent: We do Advent-ures which are low-waste activities and challenges instead of an advent calendar. We reuse the cards we made with ideas and try to channel the values we want to instill that Christmas isn't commercial but about spending time with loved ones, helping others, making memories and having fun!

B is for Batteries: With two small children we need a lot of batteries but we use rechargeable wherever possible and got a battery charger. In the UK we use over 189 million batteries each year, so make sure you take old batteries to be recycled; any store that sells more than 32kg batteries a year must provide a battery recycling point in store so check your local supermarket for a recycling point (usually at the front of the store!). If you live in Stockton, batteries can go in your blue box for kerbside recycling in a separate clear bag.

C is for Cards: We have mainly ditched cards but 1 billion Christmas cards are dumped each year in the UK. Nowadays, you can buy recycled cards that spread a sustainability message as well as festive cheer. Round here, the kids make cards from last year’s cards or artwork and we send e-cards to family and friends who live overseas or Facetime/Zoom for a nice chat to speak to them in person. We use the money we save to donate to charity too; usually a local foodbank or children's charity. Also, has teamed up with the Woodland Trust card recycling scheme which will allow people to recycle their cards throughout January at participating retailers.

D is for Decorations: Our decorations are secondhand, homemade or fairtrade. The kids make a new decoration for the tree every year which is a nice tradition and they enjoy looking at them when we get them out every year.

E is for Experiences: We want our family to understand that Christmas isn't about stuff but experiences; having fun, making memories and doing activities. We also gift experiences to have something to look forward to and limit waste: this year we're being gifted a pass for Beamish, an RSPB membership and a family meal out. In the past we've given and received spa days, family farm passes, theatre tokens, vouchers, hotel stays and holidays.

F is for Food: Wherever possible we try to buy locally, seasonally and choose organic or ethically sourced products: support local growers suppliers and shops. Buy your fruit and vegetables loose and ditch all that wasteful plastic packaging. Buy an organic turkey if you can. Buy drinks in bigger bottles rather than small ones. We also meal plan; excessive eating over the festive period creates a carbon footprint equal to a car travelling around the globe 6000times, and in the UK we spend an average of £174 per household on food for Christmas with an average of £40 of that going straight into the bin, so we try to make sure we don't buy more than we need and have a plan to use or freeze leftovers.

G is for gifts: It turns out we are rubbish at buying gifts. Each Christmas 20% of presents are never opened and each Christmas, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from China. Presents bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint. Obviously, presents are still very important to our children because they're still kids at the end of the day, but we try to source the things they want secondhand or find ethical suppliers wherever possible.

H is for Homemade: We make some of our gifts ourselves; some favourites include the 12 Dates of Christmas, had hand-knitted socks, hats and jumpers, gin with foraged fruits, homemade chocolates and even bath salts. We also make our own treats; mince pies, chocolate pastry Christmas trees, scones, cheese straws and Christmas dinner from scratch to cut packaging and also make our own crackers and decorations as part of our Advent-ures.

I is for Illuminations: Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, so turn them off when they are not needed.

If you crave festive lights, look for products using LEDs instead of traditional bulbs. LEDs last 10 times longer, produce virtually no heat and dramatically reduce power consumption. Meanwhile this is a good time to replace old inefficient bulbs around the house with energy efficient ones. It’s a great investment, as every LED bulb you use could save up to £100 in its lifetime!

J is Jumpers: Over 80,000 tonnes of old clothes will be thrown away this Christmas. so if you do get a new wardrobe, make sure you donate your old clothes to a local charity shop. When it comes to festive fashion, why not arrange a local jumper swap, join selling or swapping pages to pick up secondhand bargains or add removable badges, brooches or decorations to plain tops and jumpers to create something that can be reused.

K is for Keep warm: Be cosy this Christmas – check that your heating appliances are serviced and working efficiently. Close curtains (at night) and turn down your thermostat one degree. Pick up a draught excluder kit. Contact local experts such as Warm in Winter to find out what else you can do to make your home warmer not just this winter but every winter to come.

L is for Local: Whether buying gifts, shopping for food or looking for festive activities we try to support our local businesses and economy. We also try to give back locally to causes, events or charities close to our hearts and home, whilst also massively reducing the carbon footprint of our festivities.

M is for Make a List and Check It Twice: Whether it's food, presents or wishlists for the sales make sure you only buy what you actually need and want. Christmas contributes £42 billion to the UK economy and retailers WANT you to spend, spend, spend but don't be tempted into buying things because they're in attractive packaging, in your eyeline and on some kind of 'special offer.' Be aware of the consumerist tactics to get you part with your hard earned cash; especially if these items will not be used, appreciated or will just be wasted!