Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

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The Independent Online

I love living in the steaming metropolis, but at this time of year it gets a bit much. My street is a rat run to Sloane Square and is jammed with coaches full of Christmas shoppers from all over the country, eager to get all their shopping done. Not only that, but there is a strange, manless 24-hour drill going on, emitting noxious fumes day and night.

I suppose some people are trying to buy into a consumer-less Christmas that doesn't involve so much shopping, waste and hassle, but you wouldn't know it judging by the stressed out shoppers swarming the streets. Santa's Against Excessive Consumption made a noisy protest, but no one's taken a blind bit of notice.

Following my own advice to think like a man to have an eco-friendly Christmas, I'm not really bothering with much shopping. My family all insist they have everything they need and don't want anything at all. I know they're lying and would be gutted to receive nothing at all so I'm giving them food presents. I soak nuts in water overnight then bake them very slowly in a low oven until crisp - the soaking starts the germination process, making them more digestible and delicious. Then I package them in old jam and kilner jars. Sliced grilled aubergines and walnuts bottled with herbs and olive oil are delicious too.

But even a Santa Against Excessive Consumption may need to give something more substantial, and I admit I am stumped with what to give my squeeze. People say it's hard to give to someone who has everything, but believe me it's quite hard to find something suitable for a man who has nothing.

Anyway, I have escaped from ghastly festive ruminations to the calm environs of Grayshott health farm. S was keen for a last-minute cheapie to Sharm-el-sheikh, but anywhere that's good enough for Tony Blair isn't good enough for me, and if I'm going to face the eco-conundrums and carbon wickedness of flying it will have to be somewhere wonderful. Grayshott was a one-hour hop on the train and no paranoid security checks or pointless lotion pilfering. But even in this bucolic haven there is no escape from the grislier aspects of the outside world.

Reading the papers in the bar I was struck by a disgusting story - two captive dolphins in china were fatally ill because of ingesting plastic from their tiny, filthy swimming pool. Fifteen men forced the dolphins' jaws open with grubby rags and the tallest man in China was summoned to stick his arm down the dolphins' throats to remove the plastic. It was seen as an amusing story and the dolphins are expected to make a full recovery. If they want to. Caught in the wild, like so many dolphins, imprisoned in tiny pools to give amusement to dolphin-botherers who pay handsomely for the privilege of abusing these intelligent mammals, I wonder what their Christmas will be like.

www.wdcs.co.uk raises awareness and funds for captive whales and dolphins