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Why Fife mum Claire avoided expensive presents this Christmas and opted for a ‘bag of sweets’ instead

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A Fife mum gave her daughter a “bag of sweets” rather than expensive presents for Christmas as part of a drive to live a more sustainable life.

Musician Claire Luxford, 43, describes her teenage children Nellie, 13, and Sam, 15, as “lucky kids” who want for nothing.

Claire Luxford.

But that doesn’t mean buying into consumerism over the festive season.

“My daughter didn’t really need anything for Christmas so I gave her £20,” says Claire, of Ceres.

“And I just gave her a bag of sweets or something, and she was fine with that. Because she didn’t need any more.

“They’re really well provided for and we’re not badly off. They’re lucky kids.”

In our Saving the planet one step at a time series we’re asking families what changes they have made to make their daily lives more sustainable.

Claire says one strategy is to “look after the stuff you have” and generally consume less.

She did give Sam a smartphone for Christmas, but said the only reason Nellie didn’t get one was because she already had one.

“She wanted a new one but I said no way, because she’d only had it for about 18 months.”

Decision not to buy an electric car

Claire says she reluctantly drives an electric car but has no plans to replace it, now her children are getting older.

She describes having a car as useful for parenting emergencies.

However she says “electric cars aren’t the answer” to the climate crisis.

“I don’t want a car. But with kids, you need it for emergencies.

“I’m not going to get another car.”

sustainable
The Luxford family.

Instead, she uses her electric bike, also known as an e-bike, to travel into Cupar and back. And she encourages her teens to cycle as much as possible.

She says the e-bike “takes the sweat out of cycling”.

And she finds the local roads relatively easy to navigate.

“Around here, I don’t really find it too bad.

“I think most of the drivers are fairly aware of what it’s like for cyclists.

“You get the occasional driver that doesn’t seem to know the rules – that they should give you a whole lane when they go past you.”

Kids only get veggie meals while with mum

Vegetarian Claire has encouraged her children to go meat free.

While she admits there was “a bit of resistance initially”, she says they have come round to the idea.

Although she says they are free to eat non-veggie food when they stay with their dad.

“They’re not fussy eaters so I knew they would get a really decent diet, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.

“And they’re used to it. They just adapted.

“The amount of land you need to raise livestock is vast. If we could rewild that land, it would have an amazing impact on the reduction of carbon emissions.”

She adds: “They make fun of me a little bit. They recognise that I’m different from most parents.

“I feel it’s part of their education and part of me bringing them up right. To teach them to take care of the world around them.”

But sustainable living is not always easy

Claire discourages Sam from buying drinks in plastic bottles at school.

But she said shopping trips are a plastic minefield for those looking to make more sustainable choices.

“Sometimes it’s not made that easy for you by society because you can’t get things that aren’t wrapped in plastic.”

And while Scotland is banning single use plastics including straws and cutlery from June, she says the pace of change is not fast enough compared to other countries.

In France you can no longer buy a cucumber wrapped in plastic. The country banned plastic packaging on most fruit and vegetables at the start of the year.

“It’s stupid to wrap a cucumber in shrink wrap.

“Consumers need to take responsibility. But I also think that governments need to step up to the mark and actually legislate.”

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