The countdown to Christmas has begun, and with it comes the inevitable flood of gifts, fancy wrapping paper and festive snacks we cannot seem to get enough of. However, Christmas is going to look a little different this year with many us rethinking and changing how we are going to celebrate. With this change in mind, why not consider a more mindful Christmas, one that does not impact the environment negatively.
We know that this year of all years we need Christmas cheer and festivities more than ever, but there is a way to enjoy all of it in a way that is less harmful to the environment. We have created a guide on small but effective changes that you can make to have a more eco - conscious Christmas!
1.Source a Sustainable Christmas Tree…. Remember to then dispose of it responsibly
The great Christmas tree debate: are real or fake trees better for the environment, has divided the nation for years and it seems the Carbon Trust have an answer. According to them a real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint than an artificial tree, particularly if it is disposed of correctly. If you are choosing a real tree make sure it is picked locally to where you are and look out for a FSC certification, that will you tell you that the tree has been sourced sustainably. When buying a natural Christmas tree, different types are more eco-friendly than others, for example a potted tree with roots allows you to grow it outside year after year. Properly dispose of the tree after use by burning it on a bonfire, planting it or having it chipped.
If you already have an artificial tree in your home, it is best to keep using it and make it last as long as possible. Then when the time comes you can look into buying a real tree.
2. Use LED Christmas Lights
LED lights use on average of 75 per cent less energy and can last up to 25 times longer that non-LED lights, meaning you will save both energy and money!
3. Deck the Halls with Sustainable Decorations
Decorating your home with tinsel, bunting and fairy lights is a highlight for most people but how much attention are you paying to the waste they create. To prevent the throwing away of plastic decorations why not make your own or choose decorations that are designed to last for example ones made from recycled wood, glass or fabric. We recommend choosing decorations with classic and timeless designs that you will love for years, as opposed to the choosing the latest trends.
4. Wrap Responsibly
It can be tempting to wrap your presents in beautiful and sparkly wrapping paper. However, it not an essential part of the festivities, especially when there are more eco friendly options. Each year 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will be thrown out or burnt by Brits – enough to gift-wrap the island of Jersey!
Instead use recyclable to recycled wrapping paper or shred wrapping paper and use it to protect next year’s gifts. Alternatively, using brown paper to wrap you present could be just as beautiful and gives you the creative freedom to decorate your presents how you like.
5. Consider Buying Gifts from Local and Independent Retailers
Another way to be sustainable is to support local and independent businesses by shopping small and local. Many of the local businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and a little support would go a long way. Lockdown and restrictions have made it harder to buy presents in person – but many of them are selling via Etsy. Etsy is a reliable platform with a huge range of products, including handmade or upcycled items.
Tanisa, one of our young people, has an Etsy page where she sells beautiful handmade candles. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MamaZuriCandles?ref=shop_sugg
6. Reuse Christmas Outfits
Why not re-wear an old but loved Christmas outfit this year, especially if you are going to be at home. If everyone wore a preloved outfit on Christmas Day, the CO2 emissions saved would be the equivalent to taking 56 million cars off the road for a day!
7. Source Ingredients Consciously and Cook Less Meat
Where we get our food from also has an impact on the planet. Buy and source locally as you will use fewer food miles, less packaging and not have supported intensive farming practices. Agriculture is the biggest cause of deforestation. You may be surprised how close your local farmers' market is to your home.
It is also worth considering reducing the amount of meat consumed at Christmas, possibly a more controversial option for meat lovers, which can often have a large carbon footprint associated with it. If you are not ready to give up meat, looking into buying organic meat and veg will help lower that footprint.
8. Cut Your Food Waste
In the UK we waste 5 million Christmas puddings, 2 million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies each year. Not to mention huge amounts of vegetables, fruit and snacks. In fact, the Big Issue estimate that the UK throws away 270,000 tonnes of food each year. A disproportionate amount of this is at Christmas time. These quantities are shocking, especially given the fact that nearly 2 million people in the UK are undernourished and more than half a million rely on food parcels.
Try to cut waste by planning ahead – be realistic about how much food you really need and use up leftovers. There are loads of recipes online that will give you creative ideas on how to use up leftovers.
9. Send Virtual Christmas Cards
While it is lovely to send and receive Christmas Cards, they can result in a lot of waste if they are thrown out at the end of the season. The Royal Mail delivers around 150 million cards and packets during the pre-Christmas period. It is estimated that 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bin after December 25th.
So why not send virtual e- card or give someone a call if getting in touch with loved ones is important to you during the season. If you are desperate to send cards, choose cards made from recycled paper and remember to recycle them after.
Bonus Tip: Reuse Christmas cards to make tags to go on next year’s presents.
10. Buy Eco Friendly Christmas Crackers
How many of us consider the environmental impact of crackers? Most of the novelty gifts are made from plastic and end up in the bin after a couple of hours.
If you want to reduce your negative environmental impact, then you can replace your traditional plastic or single-use crackers with more sustainable options. There are plenty of options and you can choose the gift yourself.