The 12 sustainable tips of Christmas

With the Christmas season upon us, now is the time more than ever to do some good deeds, such as looking out for our planet. Even the little things can go a long way in the move towards a more environmentally friendly future, as summarised in these twelve simple tips.

  1. Quality, not quantity

According to a survey in 2022, over 32 million Brits received a Christmas gift they do not want, with the average amount spent on unwanted gifts being £37. To avoid wasting your money and disappointment from the gift recipient, try buying gifts that will be appreciated a long time. This will prevent the number of unwanted gifts going to waste.

  1. Check materials

Before buying a gift, check where it comes from, keeping sustainability in mind. Single-use plastic items are important to avoid as they create waste that cannot be recycled. Ensure that wood and paper gifts are made from recycled materials. For clothes, check labels: avoid fast fashion brands such as Shein which make poor quality clothes that will not last. Instead, look for Fairtrade clothing.

  1. Shop local

Instead of heading to the big brands on the High Street, look for local alternatives. Buying gifts in local shops is beneficial as one can support small businesses and save money from not buying from big brands. Second-hand shops, such as charity or vintage shops, also promote an environmentally friendly shopping experience since it saves on resources needed to make new products. One can buy plenty of clothes, books, toys, and technology second-hand.

  1. Avoid packaging

Reduce waste by buying gifts with little or no packaging. If it has packaging, ensure it is not plastic which cannot be recycled, and look for packaging made from recycled or recyclable materials, and ensure that when the gift is opened the packaging goes in the correct bin.

  1. Use reusable shopping bags

It is easy to forget to bring your reusable shopping bag when caught up in the chaos of Christmas shopping but plastic bags are detrimental to the environment since they contaminate soil and waterways when degrading. It is therefore important to remember to bring your reusable shopping bags when Christmas shopping.

  1. Wrap your gifts in different ways

As always, recyclable or recycled materials are more environmentally friendly than alternatives, and that includes wrapping paper. Remember that foil, glitter, plastic ribbons, and Sellotape cannot be recycled so avoid those when wrapping your gifts. Instead, try out tape-free wrapping techniques with tutorials available online. Alternatively, if your wrapping skills are not that advanced, try using reusable gift bags.

  1. Think about your Christmas trees

Reuse artificial trees for many years before throwing it away since the combination of materials they are made from mean they cannot be recycled. If you need to dispose of your artificial tree but it is still in good condition, charity shops may accept it for resale and reuse. If you want a real tree, make sure you buy it from a sustainable forest, and when the time comes to dispose of it, remember to get it recycled into woodchips, or replant it if potted so that it can be reused yearly.

  1. Upcycle old decorations

It is easy to be enticed by the glitter and glamour of new Christmas decorations. However, old decorations should not go to waste when in reasonable condition. If new decorations are needed, consider using spare materials around the house to make new decorations, such as using old paper to make paperchains. Even a little something can make a home seem more festive!

  1. Use LED Christmas lights

LED Christmas lights are better for the environment as they last longer, reducing eventual waste, and use less energy, saving on bills. To save even more energy, consider switching off the lights at night, which is also safer option than leaving them to possibly cause a fire in the night.

  1. Try vegetarianism

Poultry, which includes turkey, is in the top ten most wasted foods in the UK with 100,000 tonnes of it being wasted every year. Opting for a plant-based Christmas dinner avoids such waste and is better for you and the planet. To improve your environmental impact through your eating habits, buy UK seasonal produce, especially seasonal products. This reduces food miles and energy spent growing foods out of season while supporting UK farmers.

  1. Reuse old party outfits

It is tempting to buy a flashy new outfit for each different Christmas occasion, from work parties to family dinners. However, buying clothes to wear for just one occasion only leads to clothes going to waste. Instead, wear clothing you already own to Christmas events. If you do not have any suitable clothes, try borrowing outfits from family and friends, or buying clothes from second-hand shops.

  1. Remember what the holiday is about

Do not forget that Christmas is not all about consumerism: it is about connecting with loved ones and doing good for others. Two in five Brits say that their favourite part of Christmas is spending time with family, so instead of taking part in rampant consumerism and its resulting waste, consider more environmentally friendly activities to partake in this Christmas, such as raising money for charity through carol singing, or reconnecting with nature by taking a walk in your local park.


Featured image: Tim Mossholder via Pexels.

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