From second-hand trees to locally sourced lunch, here’s how you can make this Christmas your most sustainable yet.
‘Less is more’ is a mantra that’s rarely heard around Christmas. With overindulgence becoming as traditional as Christmas turkey, there are growing concerns around how our excessive spending is impacting the environment.
This year, show Planet Earth a little love with these five eco-friendly Christmas tips, designed to help save you money and the planet.
Rent, reuse or recycle a tree
Every December, up to eight million Christmas trees are bought in the UK alone, most of which are dumped at the end of the season. That’s a lot of waste!
Plastic trees last for years, but they take enormous amounts of energy to manufacture and won’t decompose for hundreds of years. If you want to switch to an artificial tree, look out for some pre-loved ones on eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle. That way, you’re only reusing what would otherwise be thrown away.
If Christmas just isn’t the same without that authentic pine tree scent, you’ll be happy to hear that there are sustainable ways to enjoy real trees too. Why not rent a Christmas tree from a local farm? After you’ve used it, it’ll be picked up and replanted ready for next year. Win, win!
If you are buying new, look out for the ‘Grown in Britain’ label or FSC ‘seal of approval’, which will prove your tree has been grown to environmental standards. And, when you’re done with it, find a drop-off point in your area where it can be recycled into chippings.
Gifts don’t have to be brand new to bring a smile to someone’s face.
Suggest a second-hand present rule with family and friends this year, where you only buy each other pre-loved or handmade gifts. These could be from a charity shop, car boot sale or second-hand selling websites such as eBay. Thrifting is great fun and everyone will end up with presents that are truly unique.
If you’re feeling particularly crafty, you could even whip up some gifts from home. Candles, jams and chutneys or knitted hats and scarves: get creative and see where your talents take you!
Choose – and dispose of – your food wisely
We’re all guilty of buying – and eating – a little more food than we should at Christmas, which is why it’s important to make sure your food is coming from a sustainable place.
Instead of fighting over groceries in the supermarket aisle, source your Christmas lunch from local farm shops. You could also consider a meat-free Christmas, but if that’s a step too far, opt for a free-range or organic turkey from a source you trust.
Sadly, Christmas is also the most wasteful time of the year. With fridges of uneaten food, how can we make sure our waste goes to a good place?
First off, try to only buy things that you know will get eaten before, on or just after Christmas. If you get carried away, transform your leftovers into new meals or see how much you can fit in the freezer.
If you’ve really overdone it (it happens to us all!) donate some food to a local food bank or soup kitchen, and compost any leftovers that you simply can’t shift.
Rethink your decorations
From Christmas lights to candles, who would have thought that decorations could be bad for the environment?
Fortunately, something as simple as switching your twinkling incandescent lights to LEDs can cut your energy usage by up to 80%! You don’t have to give up your candle collection either; look out for soy or beeswax candles, which don’t contain harmful, oil-based paraffin wax.
The chances are you have Christmas decorations rattling round in your attic, so don’t waste money – or materials – buying new ones. If you desperately need new decorations, head to charity or vintage shops to find some pre-loved styles.
Buy recycled wrapping paper
Statistics have shown that we use over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, much of which isn’t even recyclable!
It’s depressing, but don’t lose hope. Together, we can take the weight from the rubbish pile by using recycled paper. You could also try wrapping other people’s presents with old wallpaper, posters or even newspapers, and save the wrapping paper on your own gifts for next year.
A great way to test if wrapping paper can be recycled is to scrunch it up in your hands and then let it go. If the paper stays crumpled it can be recycled, but if it unfolds by itself it probably contains non-recyclable elements.