We all have a part to play when it comes to sustainability and with Christmas just around the corner, what better time to start doing our bit for the global environment effort.
From sustainable Christmas dinners to eco-friendly gifts, wrapping and trees, there are a whole host of things we can do.
How can Christmas be sustainable?
To make your Christmas more sustainable and do your bit for the environment, why not try:
- Buy eco-friendly decorations, or make your own
- Wrap your gifts in environmentally friendly paper
- Send digital Christmas cards instead of paper ones
- Rent a Christmas tree or recycle a real one
- Give eco-friendly gifts
- Use recyclable Christmas crackers
- Eat a sustainable Christmas dinner
1. Invest in eco-friendly Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations are a major part of the festive season, but paper waste once the festivities are over can cause huge damage to the environment.
The best way to reduce your share of that waste is through eco-friendly decorations – and the best way to be eco-friendly with your decorations is to make them yourself.
How do you make Christmas eco decorations?
Christmas is all about the natural scents and sights of things like holly and pinecones.
By foraging for these items, and adding dried fruit peel like orange, you can create a whole range of festive decorations that not only look great, but smell fantastic, too.
Best of all, if you have children, getting them busy with crafting your new decorations is a great way to have fun and start the build-up to Christmas.
Make an eco-friendly wreath
While eco-friendly Christmas wreaths are becoming more and more popular to buy, why not get your creative juices flowing and make one yourself?
Here’s what you’ll need to create a perfect wreath that’s completely plastic-free:
- A metal coat-hanger
- Plenty of foraged foliage
- Dried orange slices
Simply form your coat hanger into a circle and wrap pieces of foliage around it, building it up as you go.
Fix in place with twine and add some of the dried orange and ribbon for extra colour.
Hang on the door of your property and create a lovely welcome for your guests.
2. Use eco-friendly wrapping paper
It’s estimated that as much as 227,000 miles of paper is thrown away after Christmas – enough to reach the moon.
Lots of wrapping paper contains plastic and other non-recyclable elements like foil and glitter.
If your wrapping paper can be recycled, it will remain scrunched up when you crush it – but paper than unfolds by itself is more likely to contain plastics.
By using recycled wrapping paper, or even wrapping your gifts in fabric that can be re-used the following year, you’ll be helping to reduce the amount of paper waste we produce each Christmas.
There’s no need to sacrifice that Christmas feeling either – many recycled wrapping papers come with stunning festive designs.
3. Send eco-friendly Christmas cards
Every year, around one billion Christmas cards are thrown in the bin after the festivities are over.
Instead of contributing to that waste, why not send digital e-cards to friends and family this year?
Alternatively, if you really want to send some, why not use your foraging skills and make your own leaf-pressed cards?
Remember to avoid using things like glitter on your cards, however, as micro-plastics like these can’t be recycled.
4. Put up a sustainable Christmas tree
Around six million Christmas trees are thrown away each year and with many of these being artificial and full of plastic, a large number simply end up being incinerated or dumped in landfill.
With the sustainability drive now gathering pace, though, there are some fantastic options that are much less harmful to the environment.
Christmas tree rentals
Many garden centres and nurseries now offer a Christmas tree rental service, where you keep the tree for the duration of the festivities before returning it.
It’s then replanted to carry on its growth, before being reissued the following Christmas.
Real tree recycling
Many local authorities also offer a real tree recycling service, so if you buy a tree, you may be able to leave it for collection or take it to your local recycling centre where it will be shredded and used as compost or mulch.
If you have an artificial tree already, keep using it for as long as you can and consider more environmentally friendly options once it’s reached the end of its life.
5. Sustainable Christmas gifts
If you’re looking for the ideal gift to give someone who is eco-conscious, why not make a gift to the planet on their behalf?
Combine a donation to a charity like Friends of the Earth or the Marine Conservation Society, with a gift that is certified ‘green’.
Look out for eco stamps like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or Palm Oil Free when buying.
6. Eco-friendly Christmas crackers
Like Christmas cards and wrapping paper, crackers are huge contributors to paper waste each Christmas.
Indeed, around 40 million crackers are discarded every year in the UK.
Like cards and wrapping paper, though, there are eco-cracker options available, so you don’t need to miss out on the fun.
A whole host of recycled crackers that use no plastic or glitter are available and many contain wooden gifts rather than the plastic ones we’re more used to.
Linen crackers that can be reused each year are also available and are a great way to cut down on waste.
7. Think sustainability with your Christmas dinner
Every year in the UK, around seven million tonnes of food is thrown out at Christmas.
- Two million turkeys
- Five million puddings
- 74 million mince pies
Meat production is also a huge contributor to climate change, so as well as shopping sensibly and only buying what you need, why not consider a vegetarian or even vegan Christmas dinner this year?
Look online for some fantastic meat-free recipes, or if you do want that slice of turkey or beef, buy organic and free-range meat – and from local farms if you can.
If you are left with lots of uneaten food at the end of the festivities, look for leftovers recipes or donate to a food bank or soup kitchen.
Drink sustainable drinks
Enjoying a tipple or two is all part of Christmas but going organic can mean you’re also doing your bit for the environment.
Organic wine and spirits mean less impact on the environment from fertiliser and pesticides.
However, despite suggestions to the contrary, organic wine doesn’t lessen your hangover the next morning.