A green Christmas

Round & About

Plastic Free Homes

Local dad David Lamont, founder of Plastic Free Home, offers his tips on how we can enjoy a more planet-friendly season

‘Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more…” It’s not often that I quote the Grinch, but in this case Dr Seuss’ fictional character is spot on. Christmas is magical but it’s also a time of unnecessary waste. Here are our top tips…

1. Avoid the gimmicks
From pre-packed ‘reindeer food’ (what’s wrong with a carrot?) that’s bad for the birds, to Christmas Eve boxes, don’t get sucked in.

2. Presents
Think quality not quantity and avoid plastic. Wooden toys are popular again and look to ethical smellies, made from natural, cruelty-free and vegan ingredients. Give handmade gifts or experiences too – homemade nibbles, something knitted, a meal/afternoon tea.

3. Wrapping
Lots of wrapping contains plastic. It’s not an exact science but if you scrunch into a ball and it stays that way, it’s more likely it’s plastic free. Use recycled brown paper and/or reusable bags. Crucially, avoid plastic sticky tape! Paper tape is easy to buy online.

4. Cards
The obvious answer is to avoid them entirely but that may be easier said than done. Aim to buy cards that use recycled or FSC (sustainable) paper, free of non-biodegradable glitter, badges and plastic wrapping.

5. Crackers
Again, you could avoid. Or make your own or source reusable. If buying, look for those that don’t contain plastic toys and are recyclable.

6. Trees
If you already own an artificial tree, use it for as long as you can. In need of a new one? Consider a real tree that’s FSC or Soil Association approved. Or even rent a real tree!

7. Advent calendars
Make or buy a reusable one and fill with homemade or plastic-free treats. Foil-wrapped or Divine chocolate are better. Keep it traditional.

8. Food
Buy meat (and cut down) plastic-free from a local butcher, and veg unwrapped from a local greengrocer or farm shop.

9. Drinks
Wine bottles with a cork are better than screwtop. If you’re buying beer, avoid plastic packaging and go for glass over cans. For soft drinks, swap plastic bottles for glass or cans.

10. At the end of it all
Recycle and dispose of everything correctly. If in doubt, look online, contact your council or us! Prep bags or boxes ready for things like cardboard and recyclable plastic. Donate unwanted stuff to a charity shop or food bank.

Green Christmas

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Plastic problem

Round & About

Plastic Free Homes

BBC TV presenter Michaela Strachan discusses the problems facing our planet…

From 1990s kids’ TV to the BBC’s Countryfile, Springwatch and Autumnwatch, presenter and nature lover Michaela Strachan has been on our screens for three decades. David Lamont of Plastic Free Home got her views on things…

Q. How would you describe the challenges facing our planet? “The challenges are huge and many. Habitat loss, climate change, consumerism, greed, plastic pollution… the list goes on. Deforestation is a massive threat. If we compared the rate of loss relative to a city, the whole of London, would be wiped out in just under a week – think how many people that would make homeless. It certainly puts it into perspective.”

Q. Do we have time to turn things around? “There’s been a real shift in consciousness. With movements like Extinction Rebellion, amazing young campaigner Greta Thunberg, parliament declaring a state of climate emergency, documentaries like Our Planet, we can’t help but be aware. As David Attenborough said: ‘Saving our planet is within our reach’. The human species is incredible at reacting in a crisis and coming up with amazing and innovative solutions and there is no doubt we have reached the crisis stage. We have to all make an enormous shift in our thinking, habits and way of life. And put the planet before profit and that’s a huge challenge. A recent study by New Zealand Cider brand [delicious by the way!] Old Mout showed 80% of Brits want more ways to take action and those aged 45-54, closely followed by millennials.”

Q. How does the situation make you feel? “I tend to have huge swings in my emotions when it comes to the future of the planet and what we have done to it. When you look at the facts, it’s hugely depressing, but then you look at what people are achieving and it lifts you back into a more positive frame of mind. I am ashamed at the absurdity of humanity, the crazy things we do thinking we are progressing and moving forward when so often we aren’t.”

Q. Do you think that big brands are taking things seriously and doing enough? “Many aren’t but it’s great to see that others are. I’ve been working with Old Mout Cider now for three years, because they care about the environment. For two years they put money into helping the endangered Kiwi in New Zealand and raised awareness; this year they’re partnering with the WWF to help save half a million acres of natural habitat and we’ve done a lot of campaigning to get people thinking and talking about how we can all be more environmentally aware.”

Q. Do you think we need to take things more seriously? “Of course we do and we need governments and policy makers to force radical change. Individuals often think that what they do won’t make any difference, but if we all do small things it collectively makes a huge difference. Now we need to give people hope, ideas and inspiration.”

Get involved

Like Plastic Free Home on facebook and visit their website for the latest news, ideas, debate and much more

Plastic free home…

Round & About

Plastic Free Homes

Environmental campaigner and Wokingham dad David Lamont shares his story so far about his mission to help us all heal the planet as we launch his monthly column

Last year was a tipping point for our family, as much as it hopefully was for our planet and attitudes towards climate change. From David Attenborough to Greta Thunberg, generation-defining speeches brought home the immediacy of the challenge that we all face.

On a personal note, they made us angry, sad, scared and, most importantly, determined. To do what we can to help the cause, even in a small way.

That is why we decided – in December 2018 – to set up an online community to raise awareness of the challenges we all face and to share ideas and information on how we can all make changes in our everyday lives.

At the beginning we aimed for an audience of 100 people and to help inspire a single positive change. Since then, our website and Facebook page have achieved a monthly reach of one million people, with a highly engaged following spanning more than 20 countries.

We have appeared on BBC Radio Berkshire, online and in regional magazines and newspapers. We’ve also been invited to speak to groups ranging from the National Women’s Register (NWR) and schools to the Rainbows and Scouts and engaged in events and initiatives run by local authorities.

But most importantly, we value and appreciate the daily interaction with followers, putting across their points of view, sharing their ideas or feeding back on successful changes they have made; many as a result of following Plastic Free Home.

We’re delighted that you can now also find us here in your local monthly Round & About magazine, which reaches more than 560,000 homes across eight counties. We look forward to bringing you content ranging from interviews with leading environmental brands and those closest to the challenges, to advice and suggestions regarding easy and affordable changes you can make in everyday life.

A couple of months ago, we wrote to Sir David to thank him for inspiring us, like many others, and we were both touched and amazed to receive a handwritten response endorsing our efforts just a week later. Like you, we are just normal, everyday people and a regular family, trying to make a difference. Let’s do this!

Get involved

David Lamont is founder of Plastic Free Home, a popular and highly engaged not-for-profit online community focused on environmental issues. Follow Plastic Free Home on facebook and visit their website for the latest news, ideas, debate and much more.