12 ways to be festive and sustainable
Have yourself an eco-friendly Christmas...
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is also one of the most wasteful.
There’s a 30% rise in rubbish every December, with an extra three million tonnes of waste produced throughout the festive period – crazy, right?
With everything from discarded wrapping paper, the excessive Christmas dinner food waste and the environmental impact of Christmas trees, it’s no wonder that this year many of us are looking to make changes to have a more sustainable Christmas.
So, here are 12 easy ways to get started…
Are the speakers you’re gifting likely to be still working next Christmas? Buy more durable and long-lasting gifts rather than getting items that have a short lifespan or that your loved one won’t use. Why not gift them an experience? We have plenty of ideas in our Christmas Gift Guide!
Christmas card alternatives
Look for cards with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark; this guarantees the paper has been produced sustainably and ethically, helping you send season’s greetings without costing the planet. Also, get plantable cards packed with seeds that filled recipients can plant in spring.
Rethink how you wrap presents
This is a straightforward (and creative!) way to be more sustainable at Christmas. Plastic-based or glittery wrapping paper can’t be recycled, so use fabric or brown recycling paper. There’s something about brown recycling paper wrapped that’s so festive, plus it can be jazzed up with festive fabric and pinecones!
But remember that even recyclable paper must have sticky tape and decorations removed before going in the recycling bin; or don’t use tape and use a string or ribbon instead. Oh, and there’s plenty of origami-folding tutorials online, including Furoshiki, where wrapping fabrics can be reused again and again.
Re-gift unwanted presents
We all have those unwanted presents just sitting there from last Christmas. Why not regift them to someone who’ll love them? (Obviously not back to the same person that would be just rude!) Approximately £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfills each year.
You can also donate to charities to ensure children less fortunate and adults less fortunate, such as East End Women, to make sure they have presents under the tree.
Plastic is pretty hard to get away from over Christmas, but you can try to make a conscious effort to avoid it when buying gifts and games. Shop around for plastic-free, wooden items and pick presents that can be reused over and over again.
Buying local reduces your carbon footprint. Shopping with local butchers and greengrocers for your Christmas dinner is the eco-friendlier option; you’ll use fewer food miles, less packaging and you can feel confident that you haven’t supported any intensive farming practices.
Cut your food waste
Try only to buy the food you think you’ll need when doing your Christmas shopping (particularly with meat, fish and dairy, which might go out of date). If you have leftovers, look up recipes to see how you can make the most of them (Boxing Day bubble and squeak one of our faves). And if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, try swapping out the turkey for a vegan option.
Go for a real tree
If you opt for a real Christmas tree, never take it to landfill once the holiday season is over. Many councils will collect your tree for recycling, but if yours doesn’t, initiatives like St Oswald’s Hospice will collect it for you while raising money for hospices and other local charities.
Did you know you can buy a pot-grown tree? This means that when Christmas is over, you can plant it in your garden or re-pot it and use it again next year, giving you a tree for life.
Switch to eco-friendly crackers
Christmas lunch isn’t complete without crackers – but do you really need another plastic mini plastic comb or fortune-telling fish? Instead, try buying eco-friendly crackers which use little to no plastic and are made from recyclable materials.
And why not make your own crackers out of material like loo roll and fabric scraps? There are plenty of guides online. Add that special personal touch by using presents of your choice and reuse the crackers every year!
Buy LED Lights
Whether you’re lighting up just the tree or your entire house, make sure you choose energy-efficient bulbs this year. We recommend buying LED lights that use very little energy and are long-lasting. Avoid battery-powered lights if you can, as batteries can leak harmful chemicals once disposed of. Oh, and remember to turn off your tree lights at night and when you’re out of the house – it’s safer and won’t cost the earth.
Dressing for the party season
It’s so easy to fall under the trap of buying a new outfit every year for your festivities. Choose the sustainable option by re-wearing your clothing, ask your friends and family to borrow theirs or pop into second-hand shops to find your perfect festive frock. The best part? You’ll be saving on your pennies too!
To save all emissions of your toing and froing to your various Christmas celebrations, why not share a taxi with your colleagues and friends who live on route? Or take public transport, which will also help cut the traffic.