Tips for having a Sustainable Christmas
Being sustainable and limiting our impact on the environment is a part of every day life now and the festive period is the perfect time to double down on our sustainable efforts. Christmas is traditionally a time of excess and goodwill and that can still be the case even with a more environmentally friendly focus. Having a sustainable Christmas doesn’t have to take the fun out of our celebrations, nor does it mean reducing what you give for Christmas. Here are some tips on how you can have a more sustainable Christmas.
Studies have shown that in order for a plastic fake Christmas tree to be sustainable it needs to be used for a minimum of 10 years. So, in reality it is better for you to buy yourself a real tree for Christmas. When buying a Christmas tree choose one with an FSC Certification to confirm that it has been sourced sustainably. It is also important to be conscious about how you dispose of your tree as well. Don’t just dump your tree on the side of the road, look for your local recycle point for disposal.
If you want to go one step further, why not try buying a potted tree to replant in your garden and grow for the next year. Or, one of the best things you can do is rent a Christmas tree locally to get replanted at the end of the festive season, ready to be rented again next year.
When it comes to wrapping sustainably look for FSC certified paper that is 100% recyclable, meaning it contains no glitter, foil, metallic ink or plastic. When in doubt do the scrunch test. If you can scrunch the paper into a ball and it doesn’t flatten back out or start unfolding, then it can likely be recycled.
If you can, it is good to reuse old gift bags from Christmas’ past or try to use fabric to wrap your presents instead. And remember, sticky tape cannot be recycled!
Often times we buy our loved ones presents that get unused or even thrown out. When shopping for gifts, choose a gift that lasts, by giving something with purpose or meaning, that will hold more value with the recipient.
And who says that a gift needs to be physical? How about giving your loved one a subscription on their favourite digital service such as Audible, Disney+ or Netflix. Or maybe a membership to a cinema or museum. You could also treat your loved ones by paying for an experience like afternoon tea, an evening at the theatre or a weekend away.
Sparking some joy with a zero-waste or sustainable gift like reusable essentials such as a reusable water bottle is a great gift for Christmas. And be sure to support small, local, independent businesses, to boost a sustainable local economy.
Making your own presents is a great way to show that you have spent time and effort in creating something you think your loved ones will love. The best homemade gift is food, especially sweet treats! Cookies, brownies, pies and cakes. You really can’t go wrong!
The best sustainable Christmas decorations by far are family heirlooms that emerge from the attic year after year. But if you’re feeling creative you can always make your own decorations, which is an especially fun idea if there are children involved. Maybe try making your own wreath using paper and twine. And for even less wastage, make some edible decoration! You can also try making a reusable advent calendar to bring out and fill every year almost like a Christmas stocking.
Using LED lights to make your home feel magical are far better than traditional twinkling incandescent lights, because they use up to 80% less energy. It is also a good idea to switch to solar-powered lights outdoors where possible. Try putting your Christmas lights on a timer. As well as making environmental savings, your energy bills will also be reduced too.
Remember that many Christmas crackers are not recyclable, and often times the toys inside are made of plastic. Try to look out for FSC-certified crackers or make use of reusable DIY crackers as another great option. You can fill them yourself with much more sustainable options (like chocolates) and even personalised festive favours.
An overwhelming amount of food goes to waste every Christmas due to hosts over purchasing ahead of the big day. Whilst it is less than ideal not having enough food for such an occasion, planning ahead (mainly in the form of lists) is imperative to minimising the amount of food wasted.
If you do end up with leftovers, think before just throwing it out. If there’s enough for dinner again on boxing day, then perfect! Or try turning the leftovers into sandwiches for lunch or even throwing all the left-over ingredients together to make a one pot meal.
Choosing seasonal food is also a great way to make your shopping basket more sustainable. Try buying locally produced, seasonal products. Doing so reduces the energy spent growing foods out of season or shipping food to the UK and also means supporting the UK’s nature-friendly farmers, who grow using fewer pesticides, on British farms that support diverse wildlife.
Aloysius Ihezie, our Managing Director and the Choice Textile team, wish you and everyone in your charity shop team a happy and fulfilling festive period. We look forward to working with you next year.