Local crafters are bristling with talent and potential.

Every year we tend to lose ourselves a bit in the endless shopping, baking, wrapping and cooking up a storm for Christmas.

Wouldn’t it be great if Christmas preparations didn’t result in a complete exhaustion at the end of the day? We might not be able to cure festive season fatigue, but without too much effort and with a little imagination, we can reduce the negative environmental impact of the festive season.

Robyn Smith, founder of Faithful to Nature, says: “This year we should all try putting the green back in Christmas, making this the happiest, healthiest and most eco-friendly season yet.”

Smith shares 11 tips that won’t cost the earth to help contribute to agreener festive season:

Sustainable Christmas cards

Christmas cards can be an enormous waste. Try using paper cards that are embedded with seeds that will sprout into indigenous flowers or herbs after the paper is planted. The plant will produce flowers long after the message in the card has been read. Their production process eliminates allsenseless waste,and products are made in a sustainable way, using post-consumer wastepaper, water-based inks and wastewater from surrounding farming activities. The result is a beautiful card or tag that's fully biodegradable.

Real Trees Are Better

Although artificial trees can last to up to six years they are made from metal, lead and derivatives of PVC, which require large amounts of energy to make. Given that they are not naturally biodegradable, they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come once thrown out. Real trees are carbon neutral. They are a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year.

Organic Beverages

By buying organic wine, you're essentially voting with your money and supporting organic farming over conventional farming. The more we support the organic industry, the more organic producers will be able to thrive - which is good news for us and for our mother Earth.As an added bonus, organically grown wine is much more water wise, it’s toxin-free, lower in sulphates and higher in antioxidants.

Reduce Your Meat Consumption

During the festive season we all end up having bigger and longer meals, and the consumption of meat rises during this time. Be conscious of your meat intake and try to include some vegetarian meals. Cutting down on your meat intake can help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. Recent studies (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars) go as far as to show that giving up beef will reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up your car.

Choose Clean Candles

Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues whichhas a harmful impact on our planet. Candles made out of soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based are better because they are biodegradeable, smoke-free, and don't emit potentially dangerous toxins into your home.

Power With The Sun

Give a solar-powered gadget as a gift, instead of a battery operated gadget. You are not only reducing battery use, but making the home of the gift recipient greener.

Shop Handmade, Homemade and Local

Local crafters are bristling with talent and potential. Some of the local ranges that are ideal for really beautiful sustainable gifting are Veldt Fabrics, Earth Jewelry, Moko Handmade Wooden Giftsand Dream journals.

Find Re-usable Wrapping Ideas

Boxing day brings household bins piled high with wrapping papers Trees, wood and paper products store carbon as solid matter, making paper recycling one of the simplest waysto ensure a green futurethrough help keeping carbon out of the atmosphere for longer. This year opt for reusable fabric gift wrapping, boxes and bags. Try to avoid metallic or glossy paper at all costs and no matter what - if you have paper under your tree, ensure it is recycled!

Be Battery Wise

The best way to do this is to avoid buying gifts thatrequires batteries. Batteries contain toxic chemicals, they don't biodegrade and are difficult to recycle. Instead use rechargeable ones or the Greenenergy eco batteries.

Compost

There's a lot more food being prepared during the festive season. Make the most of the excess and compost all your food peelings or vegetable food waste into rich soil nutrition.

Don't Forget Your Reusable Shopping Bags

Canvas shopping bags are an absolute must-have for anybody who's serious about caring for the Earth. These reusable bags last for years and save so much waste, unlike disposable plastic grocery bags which cause such widespread pollution. Most are aware of this, even though it is so easy toforget bags at home, especially during the somewhat frantic festive season.

To make this your greenest Christmas yet and for green gifting ideas for him, for her, for kids, for grandparents, teachers and stocking fillers visit: http://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/Eco-Friendly-Christmas-Gifts-p-1-c-448.html

IOL, adapted from a press release