Got some last minute Christmas prep to do? Use these ideas below to have a more sustainable Christmas this year!
Eco fir-endly Christmas tree
It’s generally best to opt for real fir trees because they are biodegradable when recycled. Plastic trees, on the other hand, can survive for decades in a landfill. It’s also said that an artificial tree should be used for a minimum of 10 years after purchase to offset the impact of the plastic.
To reduce the impact of your next Christmas tree, opt for an organic one which will have 0 or fewer pesticides. You can also source your tree from local forests (to reduce transportation impact) that have been managed responsibly. It’s also a good idea to recycle your tree after you’ve finished with it - most tree recycling organisations shred trees so they can decompose faster. Most councils collect and recycle trees after Christmas, so definitely check out their collection schedules!
Another great option is Christmas tree rental. In our opinion these are a great hack for the eco-conscious. Next Christmas, simply hire a tree (in advance - they sell out quickly!) and they’ll deliver you a tree in a pot. Then, at the end of the festive period, they’ll collect and replant it. Some rental places even let you hire the same tree year on year.
Conscious gift wrapping
Luckily, there are lots of eco-friendly alternatives to generic gift wrapping. For proper wrapping paper, opt for 100% recycled unbleached paper gift wrap like the ones from Re-Wrapped. Alternatively, FabRap offer handmade fabric gift wrap which is made from 100% sustainable organic cotton; and even better, fabric wrap can be used again and again.
For a gift bag, rather than using conventional un-recyclable paper ones, purchase reusable fabric gift bags. Wrag Wrap create these in quaint Christmas prints and in many different sizes - including bottle bags!
All of us have last minute run to the shops for emergency gift wrapping, which usually means zero waste isn’t an option. However, there are certain things you can do to reduce waste. Buy matte wrapping paper (without gloss or glitter) as it is usually fully recyclable. You could also wrap presents with used newspaper! It’s both cost and eco-friendly. Another tip is to avoid plastic or laminated tags, and write directly onto the paper or on 100% recycled paper tags, then fasten with paper tape.
It has to be said, traditional Christmas food in the UK isn’t the most eco-friendly. Having a vegan Christmas lunch could be one of the most impactful ways to be eco-conscious this year. Try swapping out conventional turkey for meat-free alternatives like nut roast, or Tofurkey! Also avoid dairy-heavy desserts for nut-milk based alternatives.
Another way to reduce your impact on the evironment this Christmas is seriously consider your waste. In the UK we throw out over 230,000 tonnes of Christmas food (the equivalent to 2 million turkeys). Be sure to compost any eligible uneaten food, as well as making yummy meals with leftovers following Christmas Day. Meal planning can also be an effective way to reduce waste, to ensure that you don’t overbuy or over prepare food. Another trick is to do your Christmas shop at zero-waste shops. Conveniently, many zero-waste shops cater for bulk buys for those hosting Christmas this year - remember to bring your own tupperware/mason jars! Alternatively, opt for ‘fill your own’ sections in Waitrose rather than purchasing items in excessive packaging.
Deck the halls…
…consciously!!! Christmas lights have traditionally been terrible for the environment, however, with LED lights and energy saving bulbs, we can have much less of an impact on the environment. Also remember to turn any lights off when you leave the house and during the night - and for those on trees outside, remember to turn them off during the day when they can’t be seen!
It’s best to avoid plastic wreaths from a shop but to opt for real, natural materials to make them. You could even decorate your wreath with items you have foraged outside.
For any new tree decorations this year, try to make them yourself from sustainable materials. It makes a great family/friends activity leading up to Christmas, and means you can have a tree that is truly unique!
Being conscious about your Christmas table decorations can also have an impact. Rather than using single-use napkins, opt for washable organic cotton ones. Rather than any confetti or glitter you use for the table, source sustainable versions or make your own table decorations using eco-friendly materials!