Dreaming of a 'green' Christmas? Try Friends of the Earth's twenty top tips
Are you dreaming of a `green' Christmas? Well, even if you're not, you can enjoy the festive season by taking inspiration from our ideas for presents, parties and decorations which won't cost the earth.
Try flea markets, antique jewellery and vintage clothing shops for gifts - you'll be giving a unique present, as well as recycling.
Indulge with a local, organic hamper made up from the local farmers market or give gifts of locally-brewed beer or organic wine.
If you're talented in the kitchen, you could make chutneys, cakes, or chocolate truffles as presents. Or make your own flavoured organic olive oil, adding dried chillies, garlic or herbs to a pretty bottle and filling it up with oil.
Treat people to a special experience instead of an item - such as theatre tokens, annual membership of a gallery or a weekend at a spa.
For budding eco-enthusiasts, `Save Cash and Save the Planet', published by Friends of the Earth and Collins, is packed with ideas on how you can save money and help the planet. http://www.savecashsaveplanet.co.uk
Take your own re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping. Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas.
Cut down on the stress of choosing presents if you've got a big group of people to buy for, by organising a `Secret Santa' - agree a gift budget which everyone must to stick to, pick one name each out of a hat, then everyone only has to buy one present.
Food and drink
If you can, opt for seasonal local food and drink. A traditional Christmas dinner uses seasonal British produce and buying your food from a local market or grocer helps the local economy and cuts down on `food miles', which contribute to climate change.
Buy loose rather than pre-packed vegetables - it'll help cut down on waste packaging.
If you're having a party, avoid serving food and drink on disposable plates and cups - they will just add to our growing mountain of waste. Borrow extra crockery from neighbours. Many wine shops lend boxes of wine glasses, if you're buying supplies from them.
Around half of the waste produced by households at Christmas could easily be recycled, but last year almost 90% ended up in the dustbin.
Instead of throwing away all those sprout peelings, why not put your vegetable leftovers in a compost bin? Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas, so there's a lot of composting just waiting to happen.
It's tempting to over-buy food at Christmas, but save yourself some cash by trying to plan menus for the holiday season. The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy.
More than 10 million turkeys are bought and 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil are thrown away in the UK each Christmas - if you can't re-use the foil for cooking, make sure you put it in the recycling.
Christmas trees, lights, cards and wrapping paper
Last year we sent around 744 million Christmas cards. If all these were recycled instead of thrown away, it would help to save the equivalent of 248,000 trees.
Choose charity cards and wrapping paper which have some recycled paper content.
Try the Natural Collection's new paper range made of raffia fibres from the bark of the mulberry tree, coloured with sugar cane or banana. http://www.naturalcollection.com No trees are cut down to make it, as the fibres keep growing back.
More than 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper will be used on Christmas presents, using the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees. Last Christmas, DEFRA estimated that 83 square km of wrapping paper ended up in UK rubbish bins.
Indoor strings of Christmas lights don't use a lot of energy. If you really want to cut your energy use, you should swap your ordinary light bulbs for energy saving ones, which use a fraction of the energy and last on average 12 times longer. If every UK household installed just one energy saving bulb, they'd save over £80 million per year.
If you buy a real tree, and more than 6 million of us do, check with your local council if they will recycle it. Many local authorities grind the trees into wood chips and use them to mulch gardens or parks, instead of dumping the trees in landfill sites.
Friends of the Earth Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
26-28 Underwood Street URL: http://www.foe.co.uk
London Tel: 020 7490 1555
N1 7JQ Fax: 020 7490 0881
Natural Friends created in 1985, was the first 'green' dating and friendship site. We believe Natural Friends is the best online dating site for environmentally-sensitive, country-loving, health-conscious individuals aspiring to tread lightly on the earth www.naturalfriends.co.uk