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7 things you can do to make a positive impact over the holiday period

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We all love Christmas and the festivities it brings - but we are increasingly also aware of the damage this season of excess can bring to our communities and ultimately to our world.

We've been thinking about the environment and our communities a lot lately, so we've put together a few simple tips that can help out at Christmas and all year round. Just changing small things about the way you celebrate can make a massive difference for a long time in the future. 

1. Volunteer over the festive period

Image credit: Prawny 

One way to give back this Christmas is by volunteering in various ways in and around your community. Examples include helping out at your local soup kitchen or packing presents for underprivileged children and families in your area. There will be many opportunities to get involved in volunteering throughout your local community, especially in this extremely cold and hard-going time for many. Get on Google or ask around to find local causes in your area that could use your help. 

2. Don’t send Christmas cards

It’s now possible to sign up to donate the money you would have spent on Christmas cards to a chosen charity instead. You can then encourage people who are on your Christmas card list to do the same! This cuts down on waste when all the cards inevitable end up in the bin in early January, and also raises money for your chosen charity - win-win!! You can do this by going onto your chosen charities website or setting up your own JustGiving page.

3. Buy ethically sourced food products

Image credit: Irene Scott/AusAID

We all love tucking into a Christmas Roast on the 25th of December, but have you ever thought about whether the food on your table has been sourced ethically?

If not, then this year is your chance to start. Co-op suggests looking out for food certified as being ethically sourced by RSPCA and Red Tractor, so you know you’re doing your bit in helping the environment and animal welfare.

Ethically sourced simply means that companies and shops take more care in making sure their suppliers are considering the environmental factors and the community impact of the way they produce and package their food. If everyone started making sure they were more aware of where their food is coming from, it would be a massive positive for the environment. And of course, we need to help it out as much as we can. 

4. Combat loneliness at Christmas

Another way of volunteering this Christmas is going to visit an old people's home, or an elderly person who lives alone. A lot of elderly people have nowhere to go over this festive period and it can end up being extremely lonesome for them. If you have elderly neighbours who find it hard to get out on their own, why not take them for a festive day out or invite them to join you for a Christmas dinner? Loneliness in elderly people is a fast-spreading epidemic in the UK - helping just one person for a few hours this Christmas could make all the difference.

5. Responsibly recycle your Christmas tree

Once the Christmas festivities have ended and it’s time to pack it all away for next year, think carefully about what you are going to do with your tree. You could plant it in the garden and save it for next year, recycle it at a dedicated recycling point, or use it in your own compost to grow a new tree. 

All these things make Christmas that little bit more environmentally friendly. If you want to read more about saving the trees this Christmas, check out our previous article on the subject here

6. Donate to food banks

A Co-op food bin at Coventry University // Image credit: Co-op Food 

We can easily take the turkey on our table for granted and forget that other people in our community may be struggling to get by at all. This is why at Christmas it’s even more important than usual to give unused tins to your local food bank or donate toiletries, sanitary items and clothes to your local homeless shelter. There will be multiple stations taking cans and non-perishables throughout your town. Because not everyone is going to be treated this Christmas. 

Find out about the Co-op Foodshare scheme and how university campuses in the UK have been collecting non-perishable food for the Trussell Trust here

7. Re-gift your unwanted presents

Do you find that you get lots of gifts and end up throwing a lot of unwanted ones away by New Year? If so, why not give unwanted gifts to other friends and family who may really be able to make use of them? Or why not give them to charity? Toys can be donated to schools or hospitals, and other unwanted gifts can be taken to charity shops. This saves unwanted gifts ending up in landfills, being dumped on the street, or festering in the back of a cupboard at your mum's house forever. 


Keep all these things in the back of your mind this Christmas, and you'll make a positive impact well into the New Year.
Remember that Students get 10% off at Co-op with a Totum or NUS extra card.
Find your local Co-op here and for more inspiration from Co-op throughout the year follow @coopukfood. 

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