Christmas is coming! Whilst it is the most wonderful time of the year, it is also a time of year that produces the most waste, in fact we produce 30% more waste. It seems near impossible to do Christmas ethically, but here are a few tips on how to have a magical and eco-friendly Christmas.
Most Christmas festivities are kick started by putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. Most trees aren’t just chopped down from random forests but are specially cultivated with the intention to be sold during this festive season, however it is important to know where your tree is from. Obviously, if your tree comes from overseas it will increase your carbon footprint, so try and source it as locally as possible, you can find local growers with The British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Some people opt for artificial, reusable trees which are often made from PVC; as this isn’t recyclable, once you dispose of your tree it will end up in a landfill, and stay there for many more years. However, there are benefits to artificial trees as your environmental impact lessens the more you use it, but you will have to use it for around a decade before it becomes more environmentally friendly than a real one.
If you’ve chosen a real tree, make sure you dispose of your tree responsibly so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Real trees are recyclable and can be shredded and used as environmentally friendly wood-chippings. To do this, take your tree to a recycling centre, or if you can’t find one you can always take it to your local tip and put it in the garden waste section.
Decorations and cards:
Christmas decorations often involve excessive plastic and energy use, to curb this try and bring nature into your home. Real holly and ivy branches are a beautiful alternative to glittery tinsel. Or you could try creating some of your own decorations from recycled materials in your house. While it’s tempting to buy glittery cards from shops, making your own will seriously cut down on packaging and plastic and have an added personal touch, or try E-cards for a completely waste-free alternative.
Presents and wrapping:
Every year the amount items, and gift ideas available to us seems to grow. Yet the increased production, and therefore waste is detrimental to the environment. To combat this, I would suggest buying second hand gifts, and for any charity shop novices, I can assure you can get some interesting, and great quality items at a fraction of the price. If not try and buy sustainably and from local, independent traders.
Over the Christmas week we bin the equivalent of 227,000 miles of Christmas paper, in the UK. That is staggering. One way to reduce this figure would be reusing wrapping paper from previous years: you can simply smooth out wrapping paper by ironing it under a cloth, folding it and storing it to use the next year. And try to swap your plastic bows and ribbons, which will end up in landfills, by adorning gifts with holly and other natural decorations.
At last we get on to the feast – my favourite part. In any home Christmas means lots and lots of food. However, it is easy to end up with surplus food, creating a lot of waste and we throw away the equivalent of 4.2 million Christmas dinners each Christmas. To try and avoid this plan your meal and figure out how much you’ll need to prevent you over buying ingredients, even though it’s tempting. Make sure to use you leftovers, and continue the feast on Boxing Day and beyond if you can.
If you’re really trying to live ethically this season, I would suggest trying a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner, all of the sides can easily be made vegan – roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, you know the drill. And nut roasts are a lot better than they sound. If this isn’t something for you, try to make sure your meat is organically farmed, supporting small scale farms wherever possible.
Finally, the most important thing is that you enjoy your Christmas. It can be easy to become overwhelming living in our society with the pressures to live sustainable and ethically. So whatever small step you take in trying to be more environmentally friendly this Christmas, I commend you.