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Easy ways you can reduce your carbon footprint this Christmas

Even if you just pick one or two things from this guide, do your bit to help reduce our environmental impact - it's easier than you think to be stylish and sustainable.

Written by High Life North
Published 20.12.2019

By Hannah Bullimore

Christmas is fast approaching and there is a lot to think about. From fitting everything into your schedule to buying the right gifts and preparing a delicious Christmas dinner. Here at High Life North, we’re determined to help you have a fantastic Christmas while also considering the impact your celebrations might have.

Awareness of the environment and the impact our spending can have is ever-growing. However, Christmas can be a time when more plastic and single-use products slip back in. To help reduce our impact and still have a stylish holiday season, High Life North is turning to the ultimate style and sustainability trend – minimalism.

Minimalism has been around for some time now and with good reason. With it’s simple yet stylish aesthetics, it is the perfect way to have a picture-perfect festive season, without all of the single-use plastic.

To help you get started reducing waste, here is our guide to creating paired back, elegant decor for your home.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is a way of life which seeks to have as few material possessions as possible. It means only shopping when necessary and choosing carefully selected items. You don’t have to take it to extremes though, minimalism is popular in Scandinavia and Japan as it creates a beautiful living space while reducing consumption – just what we could all do with this festive season!

5 Minimalist ways to prepare for the festive season

1. Clear out the old

It might feel counter-intuitive, but the best way to begin is by getting rid of any decorations that have seen better days and give ornaments that you’re keeping a thorough clean. Starting the winter festivities this way will set you up for a more relaxed (and stylish) holiday season.

2. The Christmas tree 

A natural tree can be the perfect centrepiece, however, 8 million trees are felled and most end up in a landfill just a few weeks later. There are now fantastic rental alternatives available which allow you to rent a tree for the holidays before returning it to the forest.

A synthetic tree can be problematic as they aren’t usually biodegradable, however they are more convenient. If you do decide to go for a synthetic tree then make sure you buy a quality tree that can be reused for years to come.

3. Au natural gift wrap

Gifts stacked carefully under the Christmas tree are just as much a part of the decorations as the baubles and tinsel. Make gifts a part of your minimalist decor by using environmentally friendly kraft paper and adding simple touches such as sprigs of evergreen or hand-drawn motifs. Many sparkly or colourful wrapping papers are made with plastic and therefore can’t be recycled, by using kraft paper the wrapping can be. Even better, consider using cloth wraps or reusable bags to package Christmas gifts so that the wrapping can be reused or become a part of the gift.

4. Go natural

A neutral base for your decorations will allow you to make changes each year without the expense of starting from scratch each time. Natural materials will add a Nordic feel as well as making your home extra cosy.

Bringing the outside in with evergreens will make the space feel fresh and festive. These decorations are timeless and are far better for the environment than plastic alternatives. Miniature Christmas trees can be replanted in the garden, ready for next year’s decoration.

5. Dining table

A well-laid table can be as extravagant as the tree, but there are also a fair few environmental dilemmas when it comes to Christmas dinner. For a truly minimal look, use crisp white napkins to begin. Make sure they are reusable linen napkins rather than disposable to reduce the waste. Add natural decorations and beautiful crockery to create a simplistic, elegant table. Reusable linens and crockery are far more elegant than their plastic, disposable alternatives, plus it is lovely to take out the same items each Christmas and remember all the previous years’ celebrations.

4 ways to reduce your festive waste

Christmas waste in the UK

The media is full of the dangers and damage that plastic waste is creating and we all want to do our bit to reduce it. At Christmastime many of us give to charity in an effort to do our bit for the world, but what about waste?

Many of us are so busy preparing for the season that we forget to consider just how much waste is being created, here are the statistics on festive waste in the UK alone:

  • 3 million tonnes of waste
  • 83km2 of rubbish from wrapping paper alone
  • 54 million platefuls of food
  • 189 million batteries
  • 40 million rolls of sticky tape
  • 100 million black bags of packaging from toys and gifts

So what steps can we all take to reduce our impact? 

1.  Recycle wrapping paper

You might have thought ahead and kept last year’s wrapping to reuse, but if not make sure to use easily recycled kraft paper. You could also consider other reusable options such as wrapping gifts in fabric or scarves, although more expensive this does mean the wrapping becomes part of the gift.

2. Crafting Christmas

Gifts don’t have to be bought. Instead, consider baking some homemade sweet treats or taking inspiration from your local craft market or Etsy and have a go at upcycling second-hand items or things you already own. Creating homemade beauty products and putting them in mason jars with a beautiful bow is a great way to create an affordable, luxurious gift that skips out the throwaway packaging. Have fun trying a new hobby and crafting a gift with extra meaning for you loved ones – it’s a win-win!

3. Give less but give better

Christmas is often a time of overspending and overindulging, but as we all take a step back and consider the environment, this is the perfect year to curb overspending and enjoy the little things. For friends and family, arrange a coffee or special trip or only buy small, meaningful gifts, avoiding those gift sets with tons of plastic! For children, why not try the rule of buying something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read to avoid the stack of presents getting too out of hand this Christmas.

4. Don’t fill the fridge

We all know there is nothing better than full cupboards at Christmas. The dieting rules go out of the window and we can tuck into whatever food we like. However, easy access to food and shops that barely close for the holidays means that often there is a lot of food going to waste. Avoid filling the fridge or panic-buying and instead make a considered list of what you really need. Also, make sure to make the most of your leftovers by researching recipes online. You could also consider a vegetarian Christmas this year if you really wanted to reduce your holiday season carbon footprint!

What can be recycled?

Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, cards and packaging. Christmas creates a lot of rubbish and sometimes it can be a bit confusing figuring out what can be recycled and what can’t.

But don’t worry, here is your handy list of things that can and can’t put in the recycling bin:

Can be recycled:

  • Christmas cards and envelopes                 
  • Wrapping paper and cardboard packaging
  • Empty bottles
  • Jars
  • Cans
  • Plastic containers

Can’t be recycled:

  • Soft plastics
  • Tinsel
  • Christmas lights
  • Leftover food
  • Cellophane wrapping
  • Christmas trees
  • Broken crockery

Don’t feel overwhelmed though, you could just pick one or two of the things from this article to help reduce your holiday waste this year. It could be as simple as wrapping your presents in recyclable wrapping and making a dinner that doesn’t leave lots of leftovers going to waste.

Whatever you decide to do to reduce your carbon footprint, the team at High Life North hope you have an amazing holiday season.

About the author

Hannah Bullimore is a yoga teacher and writer from the North East. She teaches writing workshops for all ages and yoga classes for all abilities. 

Follow her on Instagram @hannah_bullimore
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