Christmas truly is one of the busiest times of the year, and amid all the hustle and bustle, it can be hard to focus on much else. However, we must prioritise giving a gift to our planet by aiming for an eco-friendly Christmas after the climate changes over the past year. Throughout the festive period, we produce an extra 30% of waste every year in the U.K., with one hundred million rubbish bags ending up in landfills each Christmas[i]. The effect this rotting waste has on the environment is shocking.
Luckily, having an eco-friendly Christmas couldn’t be easier! You don’t have to sacrifice any of the enjoyment or festive spirit – just make a few kinder choices during your Christmas shopping, and your carbon footprint can shrink to a size one in no time! So get started early because this is how you can have the perfect eco-friendly Christmas, completely guilt-free.
Christmas is very much a time of overindulgence – in food, drink, shopping, socialising, life! Unfortunately, though this may be fun, the effects of the waste we produce during the festive season are detrimental to our environment.
As you can see from the figures above, the amount of waste we produce from our festive favourites is shocking. Landfill waste contributes to up to 14.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year[ii], and our festive contributions are only upping this number.
Choosing to be eco-friendly at Christmas is important! Producing less waste over the season will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, slow climate change and lessen air pollution. Furthermore, a sustainable Christmas will make you feel happier because you’ve done something good for the planet and brought the family closer together in doing so. So there is no reason not to go eco-friendly this Christmas!
There aren’t many changes that you have to make to be eco-friendly at Christmas. What it comes down to are the choices you make. Choosing to shop sustainably, recycle items, and master some D.I.Y. skills are the basics for an environmentally friendly Christmas. Here’s how you can make smarter choices in every aspect of your festive season.
Elements of many wrapping paper rolls, such as glitter, foil or plastic, are non-recyclable. The best way to tell if wrapping paper is 100% recyclable is by doing the scrunch test. Simply scrunch up the paper with your hands, then let go. If the paper remains scrunched, it is 100% recyclable. However, if it unfolds, parts of it can’t be recycled and should be avoided. There are many eco-friendly wrapping papers available on the market, so don’t be discouraged if one of your favourite patterns isn’t recyclable – you’ll find an even better one! You could also get fully recyclable brown paper to wrap your presents with. Though it looks cute on its own, you or your children can decorate it yourself for a great personal touch.
Save wrapping paper, gift bags and gift boxes at Christmas so you can re-use them next year. This is the perfect eco-friendly option and a great money saver!
Presents may seem like the hardest thing to buy at Christmas, but eco-friendly options are endless and often a lot more meaningful. For starters, you could make your own! Utilise whatever skills you have to make something that means just that little bit more and be happy in the fact that your lovingly made gift will be causing no harm to the environment. Whether you’re an artist, a gardener, a chef, or a carpenter – there’s a skill you possess that can result in excellent presents!
If you’d prefer to buy, your best option would be second-hand shops. Recycling is vital to an eco-friendly lifestyle, so purchasing second-hand presents or gifting something that you don’t use to a much more welcoming home is perfect for saving the planet as well as your bank account! There are many charity shops brimming with undiscovered gems, so you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone on your list. However, look out for eco logos like Fairtrade Rainforest Alliance, Scientific Certification Systems, Forest Stewardship Council, Energy Star and Palm Oil Free for assurance that your presents are completely friendly to the environment.
You can’t have Christmas without a Christmas tree! However, artificial trees are usually plastic and wind up in a landfill, so a real tree is a friendlier option. You can rent real Christmas trees from farms or purchase them. However, you must dispose of real trees properly. Many councils offer collection services and will recycle your tree correctly for you.
Alternatively, you could buy a potted tree that can stand tall and proud in your sitting room, then be planted in your garden when the season is over. Replanting your tree will allow it to grow for many years and contribute to battling global warming.
Putting up Christmas decorations is a tradition for many of us, but often our decorations are made from non-recyclable materials. You can easily rectify this, though! You can find lovely Christmas decorations made from materials like wood, glass, paper and wool that you can re-use year after year. Plus, when the time comes, they’re easily recycled and re-used. Also, drape your tree in some L.E.D. lights for less energy use and longer-lasting brightness. For outdoor lights, go for solar-powered options, and set both on a timer so you can save energy without having to remember to!
Of course, you could always make your own Christmas decorations! There are many crafts that you can decorate your house with and keep your family busy. Some of our favourite homemade Christmas decorations include:
Food waste is responsible for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas production[iii], so cutting food waste is essential for an eco-friendly Christmas season. We tend to overbuy at Christmas because we fear that we won’t have enough for everyone, yet we still end up with piles of leftovers every year. Reduce all that waste this year for an eco-friendly (and less stressful!) Christmas.
Plan out your Christmas dinner shopping before you start, considering the number of people and their dietary requirements. Base your shopping list on this and avoid falling into the trap of discounts when shopping. Also, let your guests decide how much they’d like to eat rather than serving up standard portions. You’d be surprised how much waste this can avoid!
Once everyone’s as stuffed as the turkey, don’t panic if you still have food left. There are recipes for Christmas leftovers that you can use in the following days, and most Christmas foods are freezable. On the other hand, you could also donate your extra food to local food banks or use a food waste app that will help you share your food locally with those who need it. There’s bound to be some scraps that need throwing away; just make sure that you correctly recycle them on a compost heap or in the green bin.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of Christmas, but by making a few smarter choices this year, you could be saving the planet as you chow down on your turkey. So have fun on your eco-friendly festive search, and let us know what your favourite sustainable find is this season!
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