From scoffing mince pies to wrapping endless presents, Christmas, for many, is a time of excess. And we wouldn’t want it any other way (when else can you eat chocolate for breakfast?). But, without wanting to burst the festive bubble, excess isn’t always great for the planet.
So, what if we could keep all of the usual traditions, but make them a little more environmentally-friendly? Well, with a few simple changes here and there, we can! Below, we’ve complied our top tips for going green this Christmas. Go on, give that tree some competition.
1. Wrapping Paper
Without wrapping paper, presents wouldn’t be half as exciting – and there’s nothing like watching the kids’ faces as they unwrap something they really want. So, we’re not suggesting you stop using the stuff altogether, but with UK consumers getting through a whopping 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, it’s important to check yours is recyclable. Glittery or foil-based paper is unlikely to be, but there are plenty of lovely alternatives, including these brilliant choices – ticking all the boxes because it’s already recycled! When it comes to throwing the paper away, make sure all of the sticky tape is removed and, if in doubt about it’s recyclability, just do the scrunch test.
2. Christmas Cards
Christmas cards make receiving post enjoyable again, and are a wonderful way of wishing each other Merry Christmas, even when we’re many miles apart. But, around 1 billion of these cards end up in the bin come January – the equivalent of 33 million trees. With this in mind, how about, this year, getting crafty and making your own by reusing cards? A simple act like covering the previous message with a square of coloured paper or card not only gives the card a new life but also contributes to a more sustainable and thoughtful holiday tradition! If this isn’t your thing, or you’re running out of time, you can also buy recycled cards like these from lots of places on the high street. And, for the cards you receive, either cut them up and keep them for next year’s homemade cards or gift tags, or give them to us! We’ll be collecting them for medical charity Cobalt, who upcycle them into new cards and raise vital funds in the process.
3. Christmas Dinner Leftovers
And so we get to the main event – Christmas dinner! Full of everything from pigs-in-blankets to unwanted sprouts and, of course, the turkey, this is what it’s all about. And the reason we’re fast asleep by 4pm. But, unless very well planned, feasts like this lead to a lot of leftovers. To avoid this, try not to overbuy food for the festive period. If you do still end up with leftovers, get creative and turn these into exciting new recipes like these gammon and roast potato hash browns. And, for anything you really can’t eat, make sure to put it into the food waste bin. While you’re at it, pop those empty drinks bottles and cans in the recycling too.
4. Christmas Trees
Decorated lavishly with baubles and fairy lights, the humble Christmas tree is an integral part of December’s festivities. But, come January, 8 million of these are sent straight to landfill, where they sit there decomposing and emitting greenhouse gases. This is a completely unnecessary process, as most councils, and some charities (including Sue Ryder), will collect real trees and send them off to be recycled. So, do your research this Christmas and find out how to dispose of your tree responsibly in your area. Either that, or try replanting it in your garden (yes, really!). If you’ve bought a fake tree, make sure to keep it again for next year. And, if you really don’t want it anymore, give it away to a family that does.
From the novelty socks bought for the dads out there, to the Lego Harry Potter designed to keep the kids occupied, Christmas present buying is big business. But all of this shopping can come at a cost for the environment (as well as your bank balance!). So, this year, keep an eye out for products and packaging that have the planet in mind, and try swapping some of your usual purchases for these.
However you choose to spend your Christmas, we hope these tips have been useful and you have a wonderful time celebrating – in the knowledge that you’ve given something back to the planet this year too.