• Sarah Lovejoy

The C Word

Well words…plural. Yes it is that time of year again. Christmas is coming. Here at Love & Joy Home we have a few more choice C words for you as well. Namely, Crackers, Cake and Carbon Footprint and how to reduce it when it comes to your Christmas dinner.

Yes Christmas is, and we all know it, a truly wasteful time of year. It’s time to make a change. Start making small changes to your festive traditions to help make your Christmas more sustainable. It is up to all of us and we’ve got some great tips to get you started.

Why do we all need to start making these changes?

Here’s why…

  • In the UK we create 30% more waste than usual at Christmas – that is about 3 million tonnes – none of us want landfill sites or massive waste plants and incinerators on our doorsteps, but the fact is that unless we are prepared to produce less waste it has to go somewhere!

  • The average number of Christmas cards sent and received is 17 – this equates to over 1 billion Christmas cards many of which are not recycled because they have glitter, foil or other unrecyclable materials on them

  • To make 1 billion Christmas cards it takes 33 million trees

  • 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted in the UK in 2014 – to put this into perspective if this was recycled into energy it could power an average sized home for 57 years!

  • We throw away 227, 000 miles of wrapping paper - that would stretch to the moon!

  • Around 30 million trees are cut down annually to produce Christmas wrapping paper

  • The amount of sticky tape used is estimated at 40 million rolls – that is a whole lot of non-recyclable plastic

  • About 25 million Christmas puddings will be eaten this Christmas in the UK – if everyone made their own (using ingredients from their local plastic free store) how much plastic and cardboard would that save?

Pull the Other One

…the Plastic Free One That Is

There has been a lot of attention recently in the press and on social media about the percentage of that 3 million tonnes of waste that is the result of Christmas Crackers. Some supermarkets are pledging to ditch the plastic in the crackers they sell (although not until next year) and social media and petitions and posts suggesting that Crackers should be banned have gone viral.

If you are not ready to break with the tradition of having Christmas crackers and don’t want to wait until next year to make a difference Love & Joy Home stock make your own cracker kits.

Making your own crackers is a perfect activity to do with the children and a wonderful new tradition to start. Craft activities are a lovely thing to do with children or family of any age during the run up to Christmas and these are both lots of fun and easy to do. Have fun thinking up your own jokes – sometimes the jokes that children come up with are priceless! Instead of jokes you could make up riddles or add little heartfelt messages. Add to that your own bespoke designs and these are sure to be the best crackers you’ve ever had. Please don't add foil or glitter though as that will stop them being recyclable.

Fill them with gifts that are useful and that people actually want; wax melts are a great size, lip balm or other small sized toiletries; such as the travel sized body bars or 'Make' skincare products, bottles of essential oils, keyrings, flower seeds, even lottery tickets, or for a bigger budget; jewellery. My personal favourite fillings are Whiskey or Gin miniatures!

The Carbon Footprint of Your Christmas Dinner and How to Reduce it

The vast majority of scientists agree that the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. This means that making some changes to your traditional dinner is a sure-fire way to make your Festive Season more sustainable. As turkey has a lower carbon impact than red meats sticking to turkey (or chicken which has an even smaller carbon footprint)on your Christmas dinner plate is a greener option on your road to sustainability.

However, with the pressure on to please everyone many people don’t settle for just having turkey but include sausages, bacon, ham or beef or a selection of these meats as part of their Christmas dinner. Not only does this substantially add to the carbon cost of your festive feast but this level of excess contributes to the 4.2 million wasted dinners annually in the UK.

It is also becoming more and more likely that at least one person at your table will opt out of eating meat altogether. With more and more people converting to either a vegetarian or vegan diet a really good nut roast should be part of everyone’s cooking repertoire. Whether, you want to use it as an accompaniment or to add something different to your traditional Christmas dinner, to reduce the meat on the table or plate, or whether you are catering for the vegetarians or vegans at your table. This recipe is a winner.

Christmas Nut Loaf Recipe

The nice thing about these ingredients is (unless your knife skills and chopping speeds are way up there) the right amount of time to leave between adding the next thing is about the time it takes to chop or grate it. So, don’t prepare it all in advance but get some Christmassy tunes on, pour yourself a glass of wine, take a leisurely pace and enjoy it. There may be a lot of ingredients but there is nothing too taxing about it,

It will keep for 3 days in the fridge and freezes well so you can either make it well in advance or the day before it is required and it will still be OK for snacking on throughout Boxing day; it is delicious with crackers as well as the traditional Boxing morning bubble and squeak.

There is also flexibility on the cooking of this nut loaf, if you expect it to all get eaten in one sitting (or half of it at least) then go for the loaf tin, if not use smaller tins or dishes just be aware that this will reduce the cooking time, I use a small 9cm loaf tin for a single serving and cook it for just under half the time.

Let's Go

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (for fan assisted 160C) or Gas Mark 4

Grease and line (don't forget the sides)with baking parchment a 1.5 litre loaf tin (or smaller tins if you are using portions)

Heat 2 tbsp Rape seed oil and 15g butter (substitute for extra oil if making this a vegan loaf) in a large saucepan

Add ingredients as you prepare them making sure each has time to soften and mix well before adding the next...

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, thinly sliced into half moon shapes

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp Spanish paprika (this adds a smokey flavour – leave this out or use only ½ tsp if you prefer a more traditional Christmas Flavour or substitute with sage or a further ½ tsp of mixed herbs)

100g chestnut mushrooms, chopped

Now boil the kettle ready to make up 300ml vegetable stock

Rinse the 100g red lentils add them to the other ingredients and mix thoroughly

Add 2 tbsp tomato purée

Bring briefly to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the moisture is soaked up and your lentil are soft

Leave to cool before adding the following...

100g breadcrumbs

150g mixed nuts

25g sunflower seeds

50g dried apricots finely chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten - use egg replacement if making a vegan loaf

100g mature cheddar, grated - to make this a vegan recipe you can use cashews, pinenuts, chestnuts, dried chopped apricots in place of the cheese or simply leave it out

Finally add handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt and pepper.

Mix well then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press it down firmly; you will need to do this to get it all in.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 mins, then remove the foil and bake for a further 25 mins until firm when pressed gently.

Don’t take my word for it...check my facts:

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