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An Environmental Christmas Message
By Mayo E-Live
Nov 22, 2002, 23:51

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Christmas Message from Mayo E-Live. (Mayo Environmental Group.)
Christmas is a time for thinking of family and friends. This year spare a thought for the environment also. Take some time to think of the things that you can do to help protect the environment. A little thought and care can make a huge difference towards avoiding damage to the environment and it need not spoil your fun.

->This year why not give a gift with a difference?
1. Young trees.
2. Bulbs or seeds.
3. Non-violent toys.
4. A homemade gift. (Yule Log, centre piece, jam etc)
5. A gift of your time e.g. using your skills of baking, baby-sitting etc.
->Choose good quality products that will last. Products with a long life keep the energy used in manufacturing new goods to a minimum and avoid the creation of waste.

->Avoid disposable products.

->Choose products that do not contain CFC’s. Check that sprays and similar products are clearly marked “ CFC- free.” or “ozone friendly.” CFC’s damage the ozone layer.

->Don’t buy products with excess packaging. Buy unwrapped items and wrap them simply rather than buying over packaged goods.

->Select cosmetics, which use natural materials, preferably from companies, which will refill the bottle so it can be used indefinitely.

->When buying gifts check that they have not been manufactured using cheap labour in sweatshops in third world countries.

->Support local Oxfam/Fair Trade/Amnesty retail outlets.

->Choose clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton, linen or wool. Some outlets now promote garments made from environmentally friendly cotton.

->Choose stationery and other paper products made from recycled paper.

->Buy a book from the large range dealing with environmental issues.

->Some manufacturers and retailers have developed new ranges of less environmentally damaging products in response to consumer interest and demands. Support these efforts.

->Read labels carefully. Be aware of false or misleading claims that products are safe for the environment.

Christmas Cards:
->Choose cards printed on recycled paper where possible.

Toys for Christmas:
->Buy good quality toys that will last and can be used again and again. This will help to reduce the amount of energy needed for manufacturing and to avoid the creation of waste.

->Choose wooden toys over plastic ones. Avoid poor quality toys and disposable toys.
Whenever possible, buy toys that can be run from mains rather than from batteries. See notes on batteries below.

->Pick games with an environmental theme, which help children appreciate the value of our environment and how important it is for us to protect it.

A Special note on Batteries:
->Millions of batteries are used every year in Ireland and the range of appliances and equipment requiring them is increasing all the time. Many batteries contain hazardous materials, including cadmium and mercury and can cause pollution in disposal.

Here are some useful do’s and don’ts on batteries.

Use mains power wherever possible. Remember that manufacturing batteries can take up to 50 times more energy than the batteries can provide. Mains electricity is many times cheaper than batteries.
Switch to using rechargeable batteries. A battery charger can make a useful Christmas gift.


Look for batteries that are free of mercury and cadmium.


Dispose of batteries carefully.

Use old batteries with new ones. The new batteries try to recharge the old ones, cutting their useful life.

The Christmas Tree.
->Christmas would not be the same without the traditional tree and decorations. If you’re going to have a tree, it’s probably better to have a real one rather than a plastic one. Most Christmas trees are grown on managed tree farms for Christmas or come from thinnings of larger forests. They are a renewable resource and generate employment.

->If you can, buy a tree with roots in a pot, which you can use year after year. When it grows too big for indoor use, it can be replanted outdoors in the garden. There are more and more potted trees on the market each year. It is important to keep a real tree in a cool place and water it frequently. Keep the tree in a leak proof container such as a strong bucket.

->If you opt for an artificial tree, select a good quality product, which can be used for many years.
->In some areas Local Authorities may operate recycling schemes where you can leave your old Christmas tree to be shredded. Check out with your own Local Authority before disposing of your tree to see if they have such a scheme.

Remember Safety First.
->Make sure that your tree is properly secured and positioned away from doors, stairs, open fires, and heaters. Use only good quality Christmas tree lights which meet approved standards( I.S. 278: 1985) If watering a tree, ensure that electricity is switched off and that no water comes in contact with the lights.

Christmas Decorations.
->The message for buying decorations is to buy good quality ones, which will last year after year. Store the decorations carefully away for future use. Avoid the cheaper varieties, which have to be thrown away after only one use.
->Encourage the children to get involved in making decorations for the tree from everyday household items. A number of books and magazines will show you how to make decorations for the tree. After Christmas Day children can have fun recycling used wrapping paper by making it into boxes and bows, which can be hung from next years tree.

Food for Thought.
->Where possible try to buy organic fruit and vegetables. Although they are a little dearer, they are grown without artificial fertilisers and pest-repellents, which can cause so much harm to the environment. If demand for organic produce grows, they will be grown in larger quantities and the prices will start coming down. Don’t throw away those vegetable peelings. Throw them on your compost heap and make some natural fertiliser for your garden next year.

When it’s all over.
->When you are clearing up after it is all over, remember to avail of recycling schemes for disposing of paper, glass and cans. Bring empty bottles to the nearest bottle bank and cans to the nearest can bank. Names and addresses of recycling inlets are available from Enfo or Local Authorities.

The next meeting of Mayo E-Live will be held on Wednesday December 4th in St. Joseph’s NS Ballinrobe at 7.30p.m.Arrangements will be made at this meeting for a suitable celebration of the winter solstice. All are welcome. A General Meeting will be held early in the New Year to make plans for the forthcoming Second Mayo Environmental Awareness Week.

{Information supplied by Enfo- the Environmental Information Service.
Enfo is a service of the Department of the Environment.}

The Environment: It’s easy to make a difference.

© Copyright 2006 by the author(s)/photographer(s) and

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