With Christmas day less than 3 weeks away, are you concerned about the environmental impact of your celebrations? Read on for some tips to help you have a greener Christmas…
The UK creates 30% more waste than usual over the festive period. Over 23,000 tonnes of food is wasted over Christmas and New year, and 100 million black bags of rubbish will be landfilled. We can all do our bit to reduce our consumption and waste, and be more environmentally friendly with our celebrations too.
1 – Buy “Green” gifts
How about buying a gift experience or time for your loved one? There are literally thousands of choices; a cookery course, birdwatching, wine tasting, sessions with a personal trainer, afternoon tea, a spa day. Or you could give your time for DIY/decorating/being a designated driver on a night out? Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give!
Gifts of membership are a great idea too. You could give membership to a local botanical garden, The National Trust, a museum or an annual cinema pass. Gifts that promote getting out in the great outdoors are especially good for the well-being of the recipient.
What about the gift of adoption? There are many children and animal charities where you can sponsor a child or adopt a rescued animal. These gifts bring in valuable funds for charities as well as felling great to both give and receive.
You could consider buying gifts for your loved ones that are produced in an environmentally friendly way. Look for gifts that are certified Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Palm Oil Free etc. Be mindful of the packaging the gifts come in, look for packaging that is plastic free and fully recyclable. Shop locally and support independent businesses as much as possible.
How about an eco-gift basket? You could make up your own, personalised gift for someone special containing items that are plastic free and sustainable. Some examples of what to include are a re-usable coffee cup, Fairtrade tea/coffee/chocolate, a candle, metal straws, a shampoo bar, a bamboo toothbrush, a nice bar of soap. Get creative!
For a really low footprint , don’t be afraid to regift, up-cycle, buy something second hand or even make your own gift!
2 – Use recyclable gift wrap and cards
Unfortunately, a lot of gift wrap that is sold contains foil, is decorated with glitter or is plastic-based. None of these can be recycled. Look for gift wrap that is fully recyclable, or make your own using brown paper. If you have children, they could decorate it with Christmas-related pictures…you could also do this yourself!
Another option is to make re-usable gift bags from fabric that your family can use again and again for many years.
3 – Crackers
A lot of crackers contain plastic toys, and are made using plastic fastenings. All of which end up in landfill come January. Why not consider making your own this year? Oxfam, and a few other stores, sell recyclable crackers that you can fill yourself.
You can also make your own from saved toilet rolls and paper. Our family buy toilet rolls from Who Gives A Crap and I have made crackers from the rolls and paper they come with. I have filled them with a paper hat, a joke that my 8 year old made, and a charity lottery card or pack of wildflower seeds.
4 – Food
Christmas is a season of feasting, from pre-Christmas get-togethers, to the main event itself. In the UK we purchase up to 80% more food over the festive season than the rest of the year.
According the The Soil Association, “Food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact.”
- Leftovers: ensure you use all of your left-over Christmas food. Either turn them into new meals, freeze or invite family and friends to share them and prevent waste.
- Plant based choices: It’s not just food waste that we need to be mindful of, it’s the type of food too. Buying locally sourced and seasonal food is best when you can. Plant based food has a much lower carbon footprint that animal products. A kilogram of beef reared on a British farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of C02 (source). This causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a flight from London to New York. You’d need to consume a whopping 300kg of soy protein to create the same impact. Consider swapping your beef wellington for a mushroom wellington, or your turkey for a tofu-based replacement.
- Compost: Veg peelings can be composted in the garden, or used to make vegetable stock. For any other left over scraps that can’t be composted or re-used, ensure they are put out in the kitchen waste bin for your local recycling team to collect.
5 – Energy-saving twinkles
Making a small change such as switching your Christmas lights to low energy LED’s can make a difference to your carbon footprint. It will also save you money on your winter energy bill!
Use a timer to ensure lights aren’t on for any longer than you want them to be. Also consider switching to energy-efficient bulbs around the house, if you aren’t already using them.
Do you have any sustainable Christmas tips to share? I’d love to hear from you if you do!