How to have a sustainable Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of celebration – a time to enjoy good food and exchange gifts with our friends and family. Unfortunately, this often results in bins overflowing with food waste, plastic packaging and unrecyclable wrapping paper. By making environmentally-friendly buying choices this festive season (and throughout the year), you can help to keep this unnecessary waste down and reduce your impact on wildlife.

Here are a few simple pointers to follow for a more sustainable Christmas.

Avoid needless novelties

Before purchasing a new novelty Christmas product, decide if it’s going to be worth it. How many times are you really going to use that plastic reindeer headband? Are the battery-powered dancing snowmen still going to be amusing in their fourth year? Is having a new polyester Christmas jumper every year necessary?

If the answer is no, don’t buy it!

If, however, that plastic Christmas tree is going to look perfect in your family home for the next decade or more, it might just be the most sustainable choice (click here to read an article on this by The Independent).

And if you are in need of a new decoration or two, look for a sustainable option. There are a great selection of environmentally responsible decorations, or you could get creative and make your own (read on!).

It’s all about balance and weighing up the cost. Items that are financially cheaper can have a far bigger environmental cost and often have a shorter usable life.

Gift buying

Adoption Christmas
Buying gifts can be a challenge at the best of times, but don’t panic. Making sure you give environmentally-friendly presents isn’t as tough as you might think – here are a few tips and ideas to help you along the way:

  • Buy a gift that will help others to reduce plastic. This could be a reusable water bottle, travel cup or tote bag (check out our range of tote bags here).
  • Buy a gift that benefits wildlife. This could be something that directly benefits wildlife, such as a wooden bird box, or a gift that indirectly supports wildlife, such as our plastic-free animal adoptions.
  • Buy local. Buying from independent local businesses not only supports your local economy, but can also mean that products haven’t travelled as far to get to you, reducing their environmental footprint.

Wrap it up

Christmas presents © Pete Haskell

Wrapping paper is one of the worst offending items of a plastic filled Christmas. Even the paper that looks like it can go in the recycle bin often has plastic in the design, is coated in plastic or is smothered in sticky tape. It’s been estimated that five million tonnes of wrapping paper goes straight to landfill in the UK every year.

Hiding presents is essential for the element of surprise, so swap the wrapping paper for a re-usable cloth bag or have your very own brown paper packages tied up with string! You could even decorate your own festive wrapping paper.

If you’ve been given presents in wrapping paper you can use the scrunch test: if the paper stays scrunched, you can recycle it – if it bounces back into shape, it will have to go in the bin (or be reused!).

Make your own

Gingerbread robin biscuits © Catherine Leatherland

Making your own festive items can be a fun and helpful way to cut down on unnecessary waste without missing out. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reduce plastic packaging by making your own tasty treats such as these fantastic gingerbread robin biscuits.
  • Make your own Christmas decorations out of natural materials such as a Christmas wreath for the birds or your own dried fruit decorations.
  • Avoid unsustainable Christmas crackers and the pesky plastic toys often found inside by making your own, or buying an eco-friendly alternative.
  • Get crafty by making your own Christmas cards and wrapping paper.
  • Make your own gifts – you could build a bee hotel for your neighbour, make beeswax wraps for your partner or make seed bombs for your sibling.

And whatever you do, definitely give glitter (millions of tiny pieces of plastic!) a wide berth (eco options are available!).

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