It's the most wonderful time of the year and we're here to help you make this Christmas a little greener.
Sustainability is the word on everyone's lips right now and for good reason. According to a recent EPA survey, around 81,000 tonnes of waste is generated at Christmas every year - the majority of that is made up of packaging, but food waste is also a big problem at this time of year. More than 70 per cent of shoppers admit to buying excess, unnecessary food ahead of their Christmas feast 'just in case', a lot of which often ends up being thrown out; Brussels sprouts, meat and potatoes are the items most likely to end up in the bin.
To help you have a more sustainable Christmas this year, we asked Barbara and Nicola Horner, the mother-daughter team behind Planet A zero-waste store in Bray, to share their top tips with us. The store, which opened at Castle Street Shopping Centre in Bray, Co Wicklow earlier this year, is home to plenty of incredible Irish brands, including NutShed peanut butter, Moyee fairtrade coffee, Olly's Honey, Highbank Orchard products, and much more. The store also offers an impressive range of refill stations where consumers can bring their own containers to fill with pasta, oils, flour, nuts and more, as well as cleaning products, bodycare and more.
This family-run business aims to help the local community reduce household waste and single-use plastic by taking the hard work out of shopping sustainably, something that is incredibly important ahead of the busy festive period. For more information, visit planeta.ie or follow the shop on Instagram for more tips and tricks.
Here, the Horners have shared their top tips to help us all make this Christmas a little more sustainable.
Use your Christmas dinner to make stock.
After you’ve carved your turkey, whack the whole carcass into a pot with your organic veg peels and leftover herbs. Things like Brussels sprouts and broccoli won’t add much flavour so you will still have to eat these. Cover with water and let simmer for a few hours, then strain. Discard the solids and reserve the stock, adjusting the seasoning to your taste.
This stock will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for six months. Make sure to portion out your stock if you’re putting it in the freezer, that way you can just use as much as you need without having to defrost all of the stock.
Did you know you can reuse glass jars for freezing as long as they have straight walls and a wide opening? Just make sure you only fill them three-quarters of the way full to allow room for the frozen stock to expand.
Freeze leftover citrus
Overestimated how many gins you could handle and bought too many lemons for garnish? We've all been there! Thankfully, you don't need to discard all of your leftover citrus as we have a very handy way to help you minimise waste, especially if you’ve already gone to the trouble of slicing your fruit.
Lay your sliced citrus on a baking tray then place into your freezer. Once frozen, transfer your lemons to a zip-lock bag and store in the freezer to use as garnish for drinks - these will last for up to a year.
A lemon that’s already been used for zest is also great for cleaning and is a fab quick fix for cleaning soap off the inside of your shower doors.
Make plans for using up your leftover cooked food
There are so many things you can do with your leftovers - there's no need to waste delicious food! Turkey curry, mac and cheese with Christmas ham, and refried potatoes are all winners in this house. Need some inspiration? There are so many recipes on foodandwine.ie to help you make the most of all of your food - Kevin Dundon's mac and cheese recipe is a particular favourite of ours.
Where you can, only buy what you need.
Can any human actually eat that many potatoes? The answer is usually no, so make a list, check it twice and then stick to it when you go shopping. Visit your local zero-waste or bulk shop to buy things you might not use up during the year like cinnamon sticks, star anise and cranberries for your cranberry sauce - that way you can get exactly the amount you need and avoid waste.