This is an article by our guest Editor Helen Duval

Carbon neutral products and manufacturing methods are a real focus for this sector, with eco-friendly products being a key area of development, and we thought we would look at ways that this philosophy can be incorporated into Christmas planning. For those who tend to leave things to the last minute, there may be a few useful tips that will help to make life a little easier and greener over the festive season.

Christmas trees

One of the biggest choices to be made at Christmas revolves around the type of tree to buy. Some people get feverishly excited about putting up the ‘family’ Christmas Tree that has been around for generations, while others prefer to have a ‘real’ Christmas tree in their home. This presents a dilemma for some, for while choosing the tree is always exciting, particularly for those with younger families or grandchildren, the idea of getting it back to the house is another matter. Here is where the www.ChristmasTreeMan.co.uk or www.superplants.co.uk/live-christmas-trees can help! The perfect tree delivered right to your door…all you then have to do is decorate it!

For those where maintaining it and then coping with needles dropping from it presents a real bone of contention then again this company can help, by renting you a tree which can be delivered, in a pot, to your home!

Buying a live tree that can be replanted is also an excellent way to show any children in the family that recycling is important. If replanting isn’t an option and you buy a cut tree then don’t throw it out with the rubbish. Visit www.letsrecycle.com which details when and how your local council works regarding tree recycling.

Festive Feasts

If the supermarket dash fills you with utter dread then it may be an idea to try out the local farmer’s market or associated farm shop. You can place your meat and vegetable orders early and then you can either collect, or if they run a delivery service, that’s even better! The vegetables tend to be slightly larger than those found neatly packaged on the supermarket shelves anyway and although they may not be scrubbed quite so cleanly, they give more value for your £s spent.

To keep your food really healthy, it is probably better to buy free range and organic turkeys or chick-ens, but remember to head down to the local butcher or farm shop early to place your Christmas order.

Tipple Time

Whilst we all have our favourite, beer, cider, lager or bottle of fizz, there are some great organic options available that may make any potential hangovers a little easier to bear. For those wanting to learn a little more about the benefits of organic wine visit this website and the great news is they deliver straight to your door! http://theorganicwinecompany.com/

For anyone thinking of beginning a detox after Christmas as they head towards a healthier new year, then there are some excellent homeopathic solutions that can help with curing hangovers. Milk thistle is recognised to enhance liver function and is available from most health food stores.

Original Gift Ideas

We are probably all familiar with that conundrum of what to buy particular people in our family and Red Letter days aren’t always the gifts for everyone. For some people learning a new life skill that is associated with healthier living may be just the answer. Keen gardeners could enjoy the benefits of membership to Garden Organic which is the UK’s leading organic growing charity, and runs courses, talks and workshops. Discover more here: www.gardenorganic.co.uk

If energy and technology would be more suitable as a gift, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) also runs courses and and produces really useful books and publications on energy, gardening, building and all things sustainable. They can be found at www.cat.org.uk

We all know one – the petrol heads who just love the speed and feel of the open road. With car manufacturers swiftly moving towards cleaner driving ethics, then it may well be opportune to look at some of the tips and products available on the www.idrivesafely.com website. Also for those, about to launch their children into driving lessons there are a number of driving schools which run courses on eco driving and safer travel. www.drivinglesson.com and www.ecodrivinglesson.co.uk offer great advice.

Make A Difference

If you know that someone has strong views on environmental issues then membership to a club or or trust could be just the type of present that they would really appreciate.

The Woodland Trust protects and manages woods across the UK in a bid to protect ancient woods under threat. It also creates new woodland and to date has planted more than 38 million trees over the

last 10 years. By becoming a member a number of trees can be dedicated to someone or virtual gifts can be given to reinforce that green ethic. Visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk for more details.

With so many businesses now focusing on clean manufacturing and producing eco-friendly products, an excellent gift could be membership to groups who are looking to help the planet regarding climate change and biodiversity…all big issues that manufacturers are looking at today. Friends of the Earth and the Rainforest Action Network could be just the thing for someone who holds these issues close to their heart.

Waste Management

Recycling is a massive issue at Christmas and reducing the Festive Footprint by recycling seasonal waste is always a recurring problem. Whilst wrapping paper and plastic recycling is now a priority for most people, knowing what to do with old computers, iPhones, or electrical goods that have been replaced at Christmas can sometimes be a real nuisance to resolve.

Electrical waste tends to be worse at Christmas, with landfill sites being inundated with this type of refuse. The easiest thing to do is take unwanted or broken electronics to your local recycling centre, which can be found by visiting the site: www.recyclenow.com. Generally, most manufacturers now offer recycling advice on their websites…alternatively, if the product is still in good working order , then this could make a great present for someone less fortunate.