Founder of Grow It Yourself, in Waterford, Michael Kelly has some top tips for us all in order to enjoy a guilt-free and more ecological Christmas at home as well as tips to live more sustainably in 2022.

Michael Kelly, the Founder of GIY, is sharing his own environmentally friendly Christmas tips that he has practiced over the years. His passion for sustainable and seasonal living spans over 10 years now and he shares some of the things he has learned in order to have a more eco-friendly festive season. 

Top tree tips 

Michael says, when it comes to the Christmas tree, choose a live one; live trees are a renewable resource and are replanted on tree farms contributing to our air quality and natural ecosystems.

“You could also opt for a potted tree for indoors and then enjoy a ‘Nature Restoration’ activity with the family after Christmas as you plant it outside again or place it outside in a large pot and decorate it for the birds with seed balls, peanut butter and seed trays. It’s a fun activity for the kids and offers an important food source during the long cold winter days of winter for the birds. And finally, on the tree, for décor you could enjoy making some dried fruit garlands and trig tree stars and of course, use LED lights on the Christmas tree and at home. 

Dinner time wins 

On to the dinner, the first tip is to buy less. Every year Irish households dump tonnes of food waste - we never need as much as we think so don't fill that trolley. 

A turkey and ham dinner with all of the traditional trimmings can see tens of thousands of food miles racked up. We all need to make a more conscious effort of buying as local as possible. Buy your food from a farmers' market or direct from producers themselves. Not only will it taste better but it is a more sustainable food shopping practice. Most people buy a bird that is actually too big – so perhaps re-consider how much you actually need. And if you do have leftovers – get creative with the leftovers; a turkey carcass makes great stock for soups and you can compost the vegetable peel. 

Or you could ditch with tradition and go veggie for dinner. It’s possible to enjoy the most delicious veggie Christmas dinner with nut loaves, veggie cottage pies and delicious in-season tasty veg. Local and seasonal vegetables mean fewer food miles and artificial ripening methods; potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sprouts are all grown in Ireland and available in December.

If you’re adding gravy and purchasing an instant one be sure to choose a recyclable glass jar – basically when shopping try to avoid plastic packaging. 

Another tip is to go organic, for both meat and vegetables – it’s a great way to ensure there are no chemicals being used in the production of the food and it’s kinder to the planet.

Go green with gifts 

Homemade gifts are not only thoughtful but make for a more unusual and unique present. Homemade treats or sauces are completely unique. In the GIY Know-It-Allmanac, we have some delicious recipes for Rocket Pesto, homemade ketchup or Beetroot Chocolate Brownies all so simple that even kids can make them successfully.

Ideally, reuse wrapping paper and if you do feel you have to buy some then avoid the shiny and buy some brown paper that is fully recyclable. 

Christmas is also a wonderful time to reconnect with nature. Consider starting a family tradition of a nature walk or plan a small patch of the garden for growing your family’s favorites during 2022. The GIY Know-it-Allmanac is a month-by-month guide to growing, cooking and eating food and it has all the tips and tricks that you could need. It focuses on seasonal foods and highlights each month’s significant dates, likely weather, along with ‘get crafty’ projects and garden to-do lists. 

New Year’s resolutions for the planet 

All of the food choices we make have an impact on the environment, some more harmful than others. With food production responsible for almost one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, a change in attitudes is radically needed if we are to avert climate change. So, what we eat matters and how it is grown and produced matters even more. People who grow their own food gain a deeper understanding of how the global food system works. This knowledge will not only help you to lead a healthier life but also a more sustainable one.   

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*Originally published in December 2021. Updated in December 2022.