Vuelven los grandes banquetes, montañas de regalos y luces encendidas durante horas; actividades que impactan en el medio ambiente y suponen un aumento en la generación de residuos del 17% en ciudades como Barcelona.
But, how to enjoy an ecofriendly Christmas? Gonzalo Blanca-Alcubilla, researcher in waste management, and Didem Civancik-Uslu, researcher in new materials, both at the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, give us some tips easy to follow.
1/ Control food portions. The abundant meals often leave large amounts of leftovers that can end up in the rubbish. However, “if we bring along our own containers to family Christmas dinners or restaurants and take home leftovers, we will avoid food waste,” says Gonzalo. “Although existing methods for recycling allow processing food waste via anaerobic digestion to obtain energy, or via a composting process, prevention comes first,” he adds.
2/ Be efficient when buying gifts.Didem encourages us to “try the ‘Do it yourself’ method, more economical and sustainable, to create gifts and even decoration ourselves, from recycled materials.” In addition, we can “donate used toys, giving them a longer life to contribute to reducing raw materials’ consumption.”
3/ Invest in local businesses. Proximity purchases are “more efficient in all respects since it promotes local economic development and represents a determining factor in the reduction of emissions, by requiring less transportation,” says Gonzalo. In addition, “buying a gift in a nearby store is always better for the environment than purchasing it online because, in this case, the product is generally more over-packed,” he emphasizes.
4/ Minimise lighting. Christmas takes place in winter, the season with the shortest days of the year. This circumstance is added to the tradition of decorating streets and homes with lights of a variety of sizes and colours. Blanca-Alcubilla suggests “not filling the whole house with lights or replacing normal ones with LED.” While Didem recommends not leaving the lighting on all day and “instead of buying new lights reuse those of previous years because increasing energy consumption increases CO2 emissions.”
5/ Reduce or reuse packaging and recycle it once used. Christmas gifts generate a lot of packaging. Reduce or reuse packaging and recycle it once used. Christmas gifts generate a lot of packaging. But, if we reuse paper from newspapers or magazines, we will avoid the saturation of the containers, which, in turn, increases the frequency of waste collection, causing more emissions of combustion gases, contributing to pollution and increasing the greenhouse effect, according to the researchers.
While Christmas is on its way, both researchers agree on the importance of disseminating sustainable practices. Likewise, they expect for the new year “responsible consumption and greater awareness of the impact of our activities on the environment.”