Christmas is just around the corner, and if this year has taught us anything, it is that sustainability and trying to live life more slowly and considerably is the best thing we can do to help reduce our impact. But of course, we want to kick back and enjoy ourselves! It’s Christmas! If you’re stuck on where to start, here are some tips to help you have the most wonderful time of the year, whilst being wonderful to the planet.
1. Recycling your Christmas tree
Nothing screams Christmas more than the tree! However, after the lights and decorations come down, many Christmas trees end up in landfill, producing methane and carbon dioxide as it decomposes. Dropping off your Christmas tree at your local recycling centre, where it will be turned into chippings for paths or looking out for a collection point near you, is the best way to offset this. If you want to do one step better, buying a potted Christmas tree that can be replanted outside or even finding a Christmas tree renting service, that adorably ‘retires’ older trees in their own special field to live out the rest of their lives, means that the trees can continue to remove carbon dioxide out of the air all year round.
2. Quality, Not Quantity
We all know the feeling of receiving gifts, however well meant, that we have absolutely no use for. What made you think that buying your mum a wooden spoon with Nicholas Cage’s face etched on it was a good idea? Instead of buying lots of small presents that you think they might like, buying fewer well-made quality gifts that are useful, especially if they are biodegradable, are more likely to be treasured. Sorry, Nick.
- Reusable coffee cups, like the one by Sole Cup, are perfect for people always on the go, as well as reducing the amount of single-use cups that go to landfill each year
- Artisanal soy wax candles, like the ones at Handmade Candle Co., are non-toxic when burned and are vegan and cruelty free (my favourite is Amber & Musk)
- Reusable cotton pads and makeup wipes are super useful and even save you money in the long run
3. Reusing your wrapping
On average, Brits use an average of 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, approximately enough to wrap the island of Guernsey! And most of it isn’t even recyclable; many rolls of wrapping paper are not made with pure paper, and that’s not even considering the amount of glitter and foil that it is often decorated with.
Instead, using what already exists in the world makes a more environmentally conscious and unique gift for your loved ones.
- Save your Christmas cards and cut out the best designs to make into gift tags.
- Old pages of sheet music paper, vintage book pages or brown paper is a nice rustic way to wrap gifts, especially topped off with twine and sprigs of rosemary or eucalyptus tucked in.
- Look in your local second-hand shop for vintage silk or cotton scarves to knot wrap your gifts through the Japanese art of furoshiki, and the scarf counts as a gift too!
- If you’re feeling especially crafty, you can make your own crackers from old toilet rolls and fill them with small plastic-free gifts, sweets and jokes - you can even buy the snaps for a couple of pounds for the authentic cracker experience.
4. Eating less meat for Christmas Dinner
Reducing your meat consumption is one of the best ways to minimise your carbon footprint, reducing emissions, using less resources, as well as cutting down on pollution. But do not fear! There are plenty of ways to simulate meat so you’re not missing out. Tofu, seitan, nuts and vegetables such as cauliflower, butternut squash, even watermelon, can be used to create your favourite cuts of meat without the impact.
And if you’ve already cut out meat from your diet, picking vegetables that are in season and are preferably grown in the UK is a great way to cut down emissions even further.
5. Vintage party outfits
We all want to look our most sparkliest selves at Christmas. But instead of splashing out on the closest high street sequinned dress to hand, taking a little bit of time to look for second-hand outfits is the best way to not contribute to fast fashion. Not only are they better made, you’ll have a look that no-one else will have and it is often cheaper than buying new. Places like Depop, eBay, Asos Marketplace or Vestiaire Collective are online marketplaces that take the effort out of finding your perfect look. Additionally, looking for clothes made of non-synthetic materials, such as cotton, silk and glass beads over sequins, polyester or satin means that when they come to the end of wearable lives, they can break down much quicker and easier. And even if you like changing up your look, or want to wear something different to each social occasion, there are many clothing rental companies online, such as By Rotation, which is an easy and affordable way to wear designer clothing without the ownership.
So whether you go full eco-warrior this Christmas or if you try a few of these ideas, doing what you can, however small, is the best way to help our planet, without losing any festive magic.