Post Christmas Cut Down

1 in 5 of us admit to buying surplus stuff at Christmas ‘just in case’ even if we don’t like it! So if you have ended up with a bunch of stuff you have no use for here’s what you can do with it…

Here are 12 tips of Christmas to help you reduce food waste –

If you got yourself an artificial tree, and feel like it’s time to move on to bigger better trees, you can give it to a friend or a community centre who might still find use out of it, or donate it to a charity shop who can sell it the following year.

If it’s the case that you have bought a fresh pine tree this Christmas and it cannot be re-potted, make sure you take it to a local tree recycling centre ( ), but before you do that make sure you use the pine needles in a nice hot bath or eat them…that’s right, you can eat your Christmas Tree!

The needles can be used in all sorts of dishes; you can boil them up with sugar and use them as a syrup to top dishes, grind them to add to cakes, sugar or herb sprinkles and more, RENÉ REDZEPI from the New York Times claims that ‘You can cook with a branch of spruce or fir as you would a sprig of rosemary or thyme’ below are a few recipes.

Spruce Butter

7 ounces butter

3 ½tablespoons pine needles

Sprig of lemon thyme.

  1. Mix in a blender for eight minutes until soft and green.
  2. Pass through a chinois sieve.

Spruce Oil

3 ½ ounces pine needles

3-4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 ¼ cups neutral oil.

  1. Blanch needles for four minutes, then dry.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a blender until they reach 160 degrees.
  3. Pass through a chinois sieve.

Spruce Vinegar

3 ½ ounces pine needles

3 ½ ounces apple vinegar.

  1. Briefly mix in blender.
  2. Place in a sealed container overnight.
  3. Pass through a chinois sieve.

Or if you’d prefer them in a cocktail there are a couple of recipes here

This new year, make an aim to throw away as little food as you possibly can, you can do this in a number of ways; freeze all of your leftovers, and use it later to make meals with, try not to plan meals with fresh ingredients for the next few days unless it’s using the Christmas tree pines, plan meals using the leftovers in the freezer and more…

Some tips to help you from love food hate waste

  • Toasted turkey sandwich on Boxing Day, with cranberry sauce.
  • Leftover meat and vegetables on a ‘Christmas dinner pizza’.
  • Buy or make some pizza bases, add a base layer of sauce then top with leftovers and a sprinkling of cheese if you like!
  • Make soups, peelings are great in stocks and you can also use ingredients such as broccoli stalks which cook up and blend in to add great flavour.
  • You can freeze leftover gravy for another day and previously frozen meat can be frozen again once it has been cooked.


Here are some links to more great leftovers tips

There’s even a recipe booklet! –

Other leftover stuff…?

What to do with out of date Christmas Cards? You can cut them up and use them as tags on next year’s presents or even make some Christmassy bunting.

Here are some great examples to use old wrapping paper. You can even make mini envelopes out of big envelopes!

Get creative and cut down this Christmas, we’d love to see what projects you get involved with, let us know via Facebook or Twitter or leave a comment below.


Sustainable Eating at Christmas – Facts, Figures and Solutions!

Did you know that red meat requires the use of roughly 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions! Perhaps if you’re used to sitting down to a red meat meal at Christmas, this year might be an opportunity to make a step towards positive change to the world we live in by doing a small bit this Christmas and switching to chicken or even a nut roast.

You can find out here which food is best to cook over Christmas as well as some over tips –

Another way to cut down on carbon emissions and to help grow economies is to use local, organic and sustainably sourced vegetables. You can find more information on what foods to eat throughout the year at: Eat Seasonably ( there’s a reason why we have Brussel’s sprouts at Christmas, and it’s isn’t just because you’re parents want to punish you…

It is estimated that ‘£22bn is spent by UK households at Christmas’ with each household spending between £150 and £835 just on food.

We waste nearly ‘2 million turkeys, 5m Christmas puddings and 74m mince pies, to put it into context, that means we are binning nearly twice as many mince pies as retail giant Marks & Spencer sells every year (40m). (The guardian)

Picture 1

If you find that you don’t have the cranberry or apple sauce at the back of the cupboard  needed this Christmas to accompany your dinners at the table, you can click here to find some really easy and super tasty recipes to make your own sauces, stuffing’s and much more! By doing this, you’ll not only feel more accomplished by learning a new recipe, but you cut down on packaging and on energy used in factories. Also if you find you have left overs, you can jar it up and save it for next year, faction it into a leftover dish (cranberry sauce brownies?) or even give it to others as a gift?

You could shave £200 off of your bills by cutting down on ‘just in case’ spending by 15% you Here’s a couple of websites for ideas on how to revamp and jazz up last night’s dinner (Tip: this can be used all year round!)

One in five of us admit to buying traditional Christmas food we don’t even like, the study revealed.  

Remember, there are those around the world who cannot afford to splash out at Christmas, and instead will be rearing chickens and goats and growing veg in order to sell on to make money to live; you can help them by following this website and donating one of the choices to those in need.


Other Useful Links

This Calendar shows some really great ways to cut down on spending this year!

COP 21 – The conference of the parties – Outcomes


On November 30th – December 11th world leaders from 150 countries joined to set out a parent agreement to the Kyoto protocol of which ended in 2012, to reduce the negative effects of 150 years of industrial work on the earth and climate, over the next 30 years. The 2015 drafted agreement will be approved and further implemented in 2020 aiming to make changes by 2030 – 2050 at the latest.

The conventions took into account the ‘Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development’ and ‘the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’ and also considers  many other factors that are not usually seen as directly linking to climate issues, such as equality between sexes and races, fair payment for fair work etc.

The goals put forward by each country are “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) and will not be legally binding; unfortunately this means that there are a lot of holes to be picked in the agreement; such as there is no explanation for how changes will be measured and how countries will be punished if the agreement is violated.

Many agree that this is our best chance to save the world that we live in.

Main Goals

Some of the main goals that have been set out by the EU are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-95% by 2050 when compared to levels in 1990; another of the major outcomes in targets for the future was for the global temperature to be kept under 2 degrees, however the pressure for this to happen sooner rather later is becoming increasingly evident; the UK Met Office claims that “Should emissions peak in 2016, to limit warming to 2 °C with a 50% probability will require emissions reductions of approximately 4% per year. But should emissions peak later in 2020, to achieve the same temperature target will require a faster rate of emissions reductions of almost 6% per year.” Therefore showing that changes need to be made prior to 2020; meetings will be held in 2018 to review the agreement and to set further targets, many hope that this will be an affirmation of the previous mentioned decision to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees and also that politicians will take the agreement a step further.

George Monbiot from the Guardian claims that ‘By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster’

The agreement puts a lot of emphasis on eradicating the use of fossil fuels and replacing these with renewable energy sources, whilst this in itself is a huge step forward, many agree that political leaders have not taken this into account the and that the full impacts of further industrial practice, with investments in activities like coal mining and fracking are still continuing; for instance the UK ‘is the only G7 country to be actively expanding fossil fuel subsidies’.

An overview of some of the main issues covered by the conference:


‘The 2030 climate and energy framework sets three key targets for the year 2030:

  • At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions(from 1990 levels)
  • At least 27% share for renewable energy
  • At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency’


‘The framework contains a binding target to cut emissions in EU territory by at least 40%below 1990 levels by 2030.

This will enable the EU to:

  • take cost-effective steps towards its long-term objective of cutting emissions by 80-95% by 2050 in the context of necessary reductions by developed countries as a group,
  • make a fair and ambitious contribution to the new international climate agreement,to take effect in 2020.

To achieve the at least 40% target:


‘The framework sets a binding target at EU level to boost the share of renewables to at least 27% of EU energy consumption by 2030’


‘On the basis of the Energy Efficiency Directive, the European Council has endorsed an indicative energy savings target of 27% by 2030.

This target will be reviewed in 2020 having in mind a 30% target.’

Necessary Investments

  • ‘Average annual additional investmentsare projected to amount to €38 billion for the EU as a whole over the period 2011-30
  • Fuel savingswill to a large extent compensate for these
  • More than half of the investments are needed in the residential and tertiary sectors
  • Lower-income countries need to make relatively larger efforts compared to GDP – but European Council conclusions address distribution and include measures to enhance fairness and solidarity while ensuring overall efficiency.’


Some bodies present at the conferences, have told that one of their worries is whether countries which have had none or barely any part in affecting global warming, will be compensated by those who have; due to this there has been a call to raise $100billion per year as compensation for these countries, however the proposal was met with mixed attitudes. The ‘publication on 7 October of the climate finance report by the OECD and the think tank Climate Policy Initiative’ reported that ‘$62 billion were raised in 2014 by developed countries to help developing countries cope with climate change’ showing that ‘the commitment made by developed countries in Copenhagen in 2009 to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 is within reach’.


Since 2005 some influential groups have formed to put the pressure on the government to stick to promises, including which is an organisation that aims to ensure that the promises made at the climate conferences are kept, C40, which was put together to network major cities and by doing so enabled cities to work together to reduce negative impacts on climate, others include Friends of the Earth, People and Planet, The National Union of Students, Greenpeace and many other.

Some Conclusions

The European Commission claims that one of the conclusions of the 2050 cop21 analysis were that ‘Early infrastructure investments cost less and much of the infrastructure in the EU built 30 to 40 years ago needs to be replaced anyway. Immediately replacing it with low-carbon alternatives can avoid more costly changes in the future’

A 1 degree rise in temperature increases the chance of storms, drought and wildfires; therefore if the target to keep global warming below 2 degrees is not kept and not implemented at the earliest possible chance, the world could see dramatic changes, especially effecting those in developing countries. World leaders who partook in the conferences must ensure they stick to these targets; as previously explained, there is little time to implement change. We agree with George Monbiot that the steps that have been taken so far, in light of previous years have been a miracle, however in order to be 100% effective there must be continued pressure from people and groups on the ground such as those above to make sure that world leaders pursue better technologies for renewable energy sources.


Extra Information

The agreement can be found in this document:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC

You can view the filmed conference here:

You can find full documentation by following the links below:

Some Figures taken from the European Commission, Climate Action page find more info here:


Ways to cut down on costs when decorating your home this Christmas

December can be a pricey time of the year with Christmas expenses for food and drink, presents and decorations and with New year’s around the corner with parties and January sales selling the new looks you’ve been itching to try throughout all of last year.

It’s that time again where we all begin to think about putting the decorations up and getting Christmas presents together. Before running to the shops to get brand new baubles, tinsel and trees, perhaps try a few of these before dishing out on decorations.

  • If you buy a live tree, buy small (cheaper) and repot it when you’re done, grow it for next year, or even sell it and make a profit! Sometimes, you can even rent a live tree and give it back in January, look at your local directories or online.
  • Did you pack any stuff away from last Christmas which you could use again?
  • Is anybody giving anything away, friends/ family/ neighbours/ perhaps you could give some things to others.
  • Are there any Christmas items for sale at your local charity, vintage or Fairtrade shops.
  • Use LED lights and save 80-90% of energy than with other lights.

Keep updated for more posts about being sustainable in the Christmas holidays.



Week 2 of the Paris Climate Conferences

We are now into week 2 of the COP 21 conferences in Paris, and things are starting to heat up on the talk for cooling down, follow the link below for more info:

If you didn’t catch our Twitter and Facebook posts in the lead up to the conferences about some of the brilliant research and projects we do here at DMU then you can check out the links below:

1.Smart Spaces:



3. WattBox:

4. Caplin Homes – Solar House:

5. Energy Modelling:

6. Esco Box:

7. SAVES: /

8. Electric Avenue –

9. GreenView: campaign for Switch to 100% Renewable Energy is a platform for young people to engage with sustainability issues, due to the COP21 conferences they feel it is a perfect time to empower the switch to 100% renewable energy by demonstrating “The power of collection by driving the shift to a clean energy future.”    #go100percent.

‘Collectively’ brings together people “from around the world and organisations from across sectors” and claims that “we can together make faster progress towards a future we all want to live in” Some big influences involved are Facebook , Twitter and Unilever, whose aim is to become ‘carbon positive’ in their operations ‘by 2030’; others include Google and Yahoo; even Obama is getting on board, and you check out his Clean Power Plan here:

Collectively aims to get students involved in these campaigns by encouraging individuals to engage with their universities as advocates for change towards the way in which their institutes use energy, and hope that this will eventually lead to a 100% switch to renewable energy.

“Individually, millennials feel powerless and cynical about their voices being heard”; however with the help of large, game-changing organisations that are constantly in the public eye, individuals can feel that their voice has more punch than they may have thought which in turn can enable change.

Keep up with their latest news on their website:

You can also check out their campaign video here: and get involved by clicking the following link to show your support for Clean Power: