Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

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The festive frenzy is now well under way and tempers in my neck of the woods, stuck as I am between the Bermuda shopping triangle of Peter Jones, Harvey Nicks and Harrods, are at fever pitch. Hurling myself into my street, I need all my wits to avoid being mown down by ferocious 4x4 drivers and furious, shaking pensioners driving tiny hatchbacks.

However, I do love Christmas in all its pagan fir-tree wintry glory. At this gloomy time of year, we need something to lift our spirits. Of course, as a card-carrying Green, the one thing I would love to ban would be the huge amount of waste generated. Excess packaging, plastic bags, wrapping paper, unwanted gifts and leftover food contribute to a vast waste mountain. Landfill sites the size of the Albert Hall are filled every two hours.

For those looking for green present ideas, I have some suggestions that should prove useful and minimise packaging. Think about giving experiences and treats; perhaps tickets to the theatre, or a voucher for a massage, blow dry or facial at your ritziest local salon, or even tickets to a football match. Indeed, the most successful present I ever gave my inamorato was tickets to an Arsenal game. This was a truly saintly thing to do, as I hated it, but I got a warm Ready Brek glow from doing something selfless for once, which made the misery almost worthwhile (but probably not quite).

You could do something very useful and set up and pay for six months of weekly farm-box delivery (www.farmaround.co.uk or www.abelandcole.com). Many of us mean to get round to doing this sort of thing but never will unless someone does it for us.

Or how about vouchers for an Eva Fraser facial workout lesson (www.evafraser.com)? Eva is a great example; she's in her seventies but due to her facial exercise programme she looks half her age, as do all her team.

You could also arrange for a water filter company to come round in the new year to set up your lucky giftee with a water filter beneath their kitchen sink (www.freshwaterfilter.co.uk), thereby ensuring pure water all year and replacing the need for bottles of expensive mineral water (such a con!).

Or how about a battery recharger? I loathe gadgets, but I love my recharger; it means that you'll never have to chuck away noxious polluting batteries ever again (www.coopersofstortford.co.uk).

I also love the organic unguents from www.spieziaorganics.com. They smell divine and are preserved with grapefruit seed extract; no need for noxious preservatives. They are packaged very attractively in recycled cardboard.

Last, but certainly lot least, a bottle of organic or, even better, biodynamic champagne (try Fleury, or something from www.vintageroots.com) will allow the happy recipient a few hours of respite from the festive fury. It's delicious. But if it is genuinely not wanted, it could be easily be regifted. To me, care of The Independent...

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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