There’s no time of the year quite like Christmas – so let’s make this year’s the most eco-friendly Christmas yet. With a few simple, sustainable Christmas ideas, you can significantly decrease your footprint and enjoy the holidays without the toll your celebrations could otherwise have on the environment.
Here are 10 of our absolute favourite eco-friendly Christmas tips which will help you enjoy the festivities all without doing harm to the planet.
1. Get a green Christmas tree
Somehow, we were led to believe that an artificial Christmas tree made from PVC (dubbed by Greenpeace to be the single most environmentally damaging plastic) is more sustainable than a cut-down tree. However, recent research suggests that you’d have to keep using an artificial tree for around 20 years for it to be more eco-friendly.
So, here’s what you can do to make sure your tree is as sustainable as it can be:
- If you already have an artificial tree at home, use it until it can’t be used anymore and make the best of it.
- If this option is available in your area, rent a potted tree. Most potted tree providers will drop off the tree before Christmas and pick it up early in January.
- If you’re getting a cut-down tree, ensure that it’s been grown locally and recycle it after Christmas.
2. Reusable or repurposed gift wrap
Did you know that most Christmas gift wrap can’t be recycled? That means it’s piling up in landfills. Instead, there are plenty of eco-friendly gift wrap options to try.
For a more eco-friendly Christmas, you could start by opting to use recycled and recyclable wrapping paper or take it even further! Old newspaper can give presents a rustic feel while investing in reusable gift bags or cotton wrapping cloths pays off in the long run, as you can keep and reuse them for years to come.
3. Create a sustainable menu
Your first instinct when choosing what to put on your table for Christmas will probably be to buy as locally as possible. While that is a great idea, the transportation carbon emissions only make up a fraction of the environmental impact of the foods we eat! Most emissions are created through the farming process and change of land use to make space for food cultivation.
Data shows that plant-based foods have a carbon footprint that’s 10-50 times lower than that of meats and other animal products. If your family does not particularly fancy traditional Christmas meals, why not venture out and give vegetarian alternatives a try? However, if you’re someone who can’t say no to meat on Christmas, just having poultry or farmed fish instead of beef or lamb can make a massive difference!
4. Sustainable decorations
There are a few simple sustainable Christmas ideas that will help you decorate without damaging the environment. First, make use of what you already have, instead of buying new every year. Whenever you do need to buy new decorations, try searching for second-hand options in thrift stores. Finally, decorate with pinecones, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and other naturally beautiful fruits of mother nature that are easily disposed of at the end of their life!
5. Know how much you’ll eat
Food waste is a massive issue in our society: 30% to 40% of all our food is thrown away uneaten! When food waste ends up in landfills, it cannot decompose properly and produces methane. Wasted food also means that any resources needed to produce it have been wasted.
When making your Christmas meal, make sure you know how much you can actually eat, to limit your waste. If you still have some leftovers you can’t finish, store them in the freezer to enjoy in January!
6. Get a reusable Christmas advent calendar
Here’s a hidden gem among sustainable Christmas ideas – invest in a reusable Christmas advent calendar you can fill up yourself, instead of buying a new one every year. It is an investment that will pay off in the long run, not just environmentally but also money-wise. Christmas calendars tend to be very overpriced!
7. Switch to LED lights
Here’s a simple switch for a more eco-friendly Christmas – get LED Christmas lights for your tree or other decorations. They consume 80% less energy than twinkling incandescent lights. Even better, if you have any outdoor Christmas decorations, switch to ones powered by solar energy and set them on a timer so you don’t waste any precious power.
8. Send eco-friendly cards
Christmas cards can be a wonderful tradition – but if you’re looking to cut down on the amount of paper you’re using and carbon emissions you’re producing, you can try sending virtual ones instead. If you still prefer to send a nice quality card at christmas time, then make sure they are printed of FSC certified paper, or even better, cards made from recycled paper.
Plantable wildflower cards are becoming really popular as well now, and they can be planted at the end of their life and will turn into a wonderful flower patch!
9. Reusable crackers – or no crackers at all?
Christmas crackers can add up to a lot of waste. If you can’t part waste with the tradition, invest in reusable crackers you can fill up yourself or more sustainable, plastic-free options. If, on the other hand, crackers were never your favourite, why not skip them and try making your own tradition instead?
10. Write a list
Almost 60 million unwanted presents are exchanged each Christmas just in the UK alone. Those gifts then sit in the recipient’s garage for years or end up being thrown away.
When we were kids, we would always write a list of what we wanted to get for Christmas. Why did we stop as adults? One sustainable Christmas idea could be to agree with your loved ones in advance to share what you’d like to find under the Christmas tree, and you’ll find your gift-giving will be much more sustainable as well as stress-free.
Got anymore eco-friendly Christmas ideas we’ve missed? Drop them in the comments below!