We love Christmas! Cold weather, mince pies, winter walks and lots of time spent with family and friends. It’s a happy season, with presents and decorated trees and lots of tasty food. It can also be a season that produces an awful lot of waste and uses a lot of energy. Happily, there are plenty of easy things you can do to make your Christmas more sustainable and better for the environment.
1. Get your Christmas tree from a sustainable source
Make sure you and your family get your Christmas tree from a sustainable source, which means from a forest that’s well managed. The Forestry Commission is selling Christmas trees from it’s own managed woodlands, and they’ll even give you a small Christmas tree that you can plant yourself, so you can replace the tree that’s been cut down for you with a new baby one.
Of course, most Christmas trees are cut trees, but you can get trees that are grown in pots which you can then plant or keep watered and use again next year – though don’t forget they might get too big to bring indoors! Or choose an artificial tree, which you can use year after year.
An even more brilliant idea available in some parts of the UK is Christmas tree rental – you just hire the tree over Christmas!
2. Make sure your lights are low energy LEDs
Most Christmas lights these days are LEDs, which generate lots of light while using hardly any energy. If your fairy lights are pretty old, it might be time to invest in some new ones!
While the lights might be pretty, don’t forget to turn them off overnight when everyone has gone to bed, and all the other lights too – you’ll save energy and money.
3. Shop local for your Christmas food
You can reduce the impact of your Christmas by shopping local for your food and reducing the food miles used to bring it from a farm to your dinner table. The fewer food miles, the less carbon emissions generated to transport the food – and you’ll also be supporting local businesses and local farmers.
Many local butchers will be able to put together special Christmas bundles which you can order in advance and collect on Christmas eve, which also means less stress. Local greengrocers can also do the same, and many local farm shops and vegetable box delivery companies will put together a Christmas food bundle too.
4. Use recycled wrapping paper or an alternative
Bright coloured paper covering mystery boxes and packages under the tree on Christmas morning is one of our favourite sights – so how do you make this more sustainable? Opt for paper made from sustainable or recycled sources, or choose something like a bag which can be re-used by the recipient.
5. Opt for charity Christmas cards
Millions of pounds are raised each year for good causes by the purchase of charity Christmas cards, and most charities will have some on sale so you can find a cause you support and send seasons greetings at the same time. Don’t forget to recycle the cards afterwards.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint further, how about sending electronic Christmas greetings, rather than actual cards?
6. Don’t forget to recycle!
While ripping off the wrapping on presents can be fun, and we know there’s a lot of packaging that comes with Christmas – not to mention all those glass bottles, tin cans and plastic containers – so make sure you recycle! Many places will have special Christmas collections so you won’t have mess lying around your house for ages, and sorting out what’s recyclable and what’s not isn’t a hard task. In fact, you can make it fun!
Check the collection times from your local council, and also make sure you’ve sorted out only what they can collect and recycle. While glass, tin cans and paper/cardboard are recycled most places, not every
7. Make your own sustainable decorations and presents!
When it comes to making your home look festive, there are loads of beautiful things you can make using things you find in the natural world and bits and pieces of things recycled at home.
Pine cones are a perfect decoration for Christmas trees, as they look like natural baubles and add a festive pine-smell to the air. Leave them as they are, add a tartan bow, or sprinkle them with glitter, then string a loop of thread around the top and pop them on your tree.
Another great idea is to transform old scraps of cloth into pretty festive decorations such as robins, trees, stars or even Santa himself if you are feeling creative!
We love the ideas on Countryliving.com website – we’re going to make a few of these ourselves this year!
8. Use up those leftovers (or don’t cook too much in the first place!)
We all love having loads of tasty food over Christmas, but it can be tempting to make far too much and have lots of it thrown away, which is an awful waste. Think carefully how much food you’re really going to need, and plan how you’re going to use those leftovers. There are plenty of delicious ideas for everything from curry to soup.
If you’ve got more than you can possibly hope to eat, why not invite some friends over to help you polish it off? Or even plan a winter picnic. Hot turkey soup and ham sandwiches make the perfect snack when out roaming through a beautiful frosty landscape.
9. Choose Fairtrade
You can make a big difference to people around the world by opting for Fairtrade products for both your food, sweet treats and even Christmas presents! You can get everything from Fairtrade chocolate to Fairtrade clothing.
10. Bring festive cheer to your local wildlife!
When it gets cold outside, many animals find it tricky to get enough food. Happily, this is something you can easily help with, and what could be more festive than lots of pretty birds tucking into their home-made seed cakes outside your window while you tuck into your Christmas dinner!
More sustainable Christmas tips and ideas
Check out these links for more ideas on how to make your Christmas more sustainable:
- 25 eco-friendly Christmas tips from Friends of the Earth
- A to Z of tips for a green Christmas from The Guardian
- 7 tips for a Sustainable Christmas
- Fairtrade Christmas decorations and presents