Christmas can be a very wasteful time of year. From food to presents to all the decorations there are so many ways Christmas can cause waste. Below are a few ways you can make Christmas a little more eco-friendly. If it’s too late for this year take a note for next year or copy this web address and schedule an email to yourself to be sent next November!
Trees absorb and store CO2 really efficiently so they’re great for the planet. Unfortunately, when they rot or are burned they release all their stored CO2.
If you buy a living tree each year why not consider renting one. There are companies out there who will deliver you a Christmas tree and collect it after to replant it and allow it stay alive rather than going to waste. If you have a garden you could also plant it yourself! Check out companies like this one.
If you use a ‘fake’ tree, look after it; help it to last year after year. You can buy one second hand rather than new, saving a plastic tree from going to landfill.
Christmas decorations are often replaced each year with new ones leading to a lot of plastic and other waste going to landfill. They get broken or you want something new or a different design aesthetic. This creates a lot of waste.
If you buy decorations, look after them and make them last, maybe consider buying second hand.
You could make your own wreaths and garlands with things from your garden or park, dried fruit slices, etc. I’m sure there’s a lot of inspiration over on Pinterest!
You can knit your own baubles, sew your own Santas, the ideas are endless. You can make your own decorations with friends, children and these become cherished and loved and something you want to use year on year.
Advent calendars are predominantly just a bar’s worth of chocolate with way more packaging. The packaging, even if recyclable, is unnecessary, it’s better to eliminate packaging rather than recycle if possible.
Consider getting yourself a bar of chocolate and eating a square a day for advent if you feel you like the treat.
If you really want an advent calendar you can make your own. There are some great wooden, fabric ones which can last a lifetime and you can put exactly what you want in each day’s box. You can do this with a friend or partner and fill each other’s calendar. So much fun!
Christmas crackers are fun, but how often do you actually keep or use the stuff inside? The jokes get cringed at, the hats get worn for an hour at most and the trinkets get thrown around the table and end up in the bin. The crackers themselves come in a load of packaging and get thrown away after use.
The obvious sustainable swap is to not have crackers at all.
However, Christmas crackers are fun – there are a lot of more sustainable crackers on the market now, some are biodegradable, some recyclable. Have a google, there are quite a lot out there now including some available at Waitrose.
Over Christmas it’s easy to over buy on food, making far too much food. This can lead to a lot of waste if the food goes bad before we can eat it. A lot of ‘Christmas’ foods come in a lot of packaging and a lot of non-recyclable packaging. Neither the food waste nor the packaging is great for a sustainable Christmas.
When food shopping over Christmas try not to go overboard, try not to be sucked in to buying all the gimmicky processed foods which come out at this time of year. Go shopping with a list and don’t deviate!
Use left overs, make sure you use them before they go bad. If foods can be frozen, freeze them, have buffet dinners with left overs rather than making new dishes, look for recipes online for creative ways to use random left overs.
Keep all your veggie peelings and make a banging homemade stock. If you have left over veggies use those and the homemade stock to make a soup!
If food does go bad – compost.
Try to make your own food rather than buy processed, packaged food where possible.
We can often end up buying a lot of ‘stuff’ over the festive period; giving gifts to so many people. We get gifts we don’t want or need that stays in a draw for years, gets thrown away or regifted to someone else for them to have to get rid of. These presents are wrapped in paper that can’t be recycled with ribbons and bows that get thrown away without a second thought. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Do you need to be buying all these presents? Are some unnecessary?
Can you buy experiences or make presents or get someone something they really want? Take a look at my Sustainable Gift Guide for ideas.
Do you need to wrap the gift? If you do, why not use paper/packaging from parcels over the year, reuse wrap that you’ve received. Wrap the gift in a scarf (2 gifts in one!) Try to use decorations that are recyclable or can be used again. For Christmas maybe a clipping from the Christmas tree or dried fruit slices – any of the things you used to make your homemade wreath!
Many Christmas cards are not recyclable causing a huge amount of waste. In a world of social media and connectivity there are so many ways to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to your friends and loved ones. You can send an email, a text, a tweet on Twitter, post to Instagram, write on their wall on Facebook, Facetime, Skype, give them a phone call or actually see them in person to say Merry Christmas.
Ideally don’t send cards – they seem redundant.
If you really need to, then why not make your own? Make them more interesting and thoughtful. These cards are then more likely to be kept and cherished!
If you have any other sustainable Christmas tips please feel free to add to the list by commenting below!