The big season is upon us and while the merriment has started, if you’re anything like the rest of us, there will still be a long way to go in terms of prep for Christmas day. From gifting to decorating and attending endless Christmas parties too, naturally, the festive season is filled with comfort, joy and a little extravaganza. And we do love to revisit our age-old traditions, year on year, but while hearty engagements are certainly at the top of our list, having a green Christmas may not be.
Increased waste and CO2 emissions around this time of year cause the earth a lot of damage, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your own carbon footprint and environmental impact around Christmas time. Consider it a Christmas challenge, but by humbug (sorry), it’s going to be a jolly one.
Give Conscious Christmas Cards
You have a couple of options here, and the first is to go digital and send Christmas e-cards. You’ll save the trees, reduce waste and they’re all the rage – we promise. Plus the more animated, the better and there’s no need to buy stamps either. Just think, that little extra money can go towards cheerier things such as mulled cider, cake and the likes.
There is, however, no denying the charm of a real Christmas card. Traditional, from the heart and a wonderful form of decoration in itself. If you like the real deal, then choose the charitable kind to be sure that your money is going towards a good cause. Look for a supplier who is generous with their donation, John Lewis charity Christmas cards, for example, give a generous 25% to its charities. Look for the FSC stamp of sustainability, and of course, be sure to recycle any that you receive!
Rock Your Past Christmas Party Outfits
When our tendency to throw away outfits after just a couple of wears creates 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse emissions per year, we should think twice before buying yet another suit, party dress or Christmas jumper for those yearly celebrations.
If you’ve got a Christmas jumper party on the cards (we do), get crafty and decorate some knitwear that’s lying at the bottom of your wardrobe. Stitch a scrap of tinsel, a few old baubles or simply tackle it with glitter glue and you will have a winning result.
Then when it comes to re-wearing last year’s Christmas glad rags, go for it. No one will notice, and if they do, hand them a sherry.
If you can’t bring yourself to wear something you already have, or if you’ve fallen head over heels for a new outfit, you can still do your bit by recycling tired looks or by giving them to charity. Every second, a truckload of clothing is wasted somewhere in the world, and just because you’re not a fan, it doesn’t mean another person won’t be!
The Eco-Chic Alternatives to Wrapping Paper
The excitement builds when we spot beautifully wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree, but it’s time to get creative instead of buying rolls of wrapping paper, gift bags, tags and all the rest. Each year this amounts to 8,000 tonnes of waste, which equates to around 50,000 trees.
There is fun in innovation and it’s a no-brainer to put what you’ve got to good use. Chop up an old newspaper or a glossy magazine and jazz it up with reusable ribbons or string and you’ll get a gift worthy result. You can find recyclable wrapping paper, and brown paper is a good alternative too. Decorate yours with snippets of wintergreen foliage and you’ve got the perfect parcel.
Less is more, and if you’ve got lots of stocking filler-esque gifts, it makes sense to pop them all in a lovely stocking or a fabric Santa bag that you could and should re-use year on year. A very easy, eco-friendly and cost-effective option – you can visit Not On The High Street and Tesco who always have some crackers.
Choose a Natural Christmas Tree
While you can re-use an artificial tree, it will ultimately end up in a landfill; PVC is pretty non-renewable and according to the Carbon Trust, it would take around 10 years for its environmental impact to outdo that of a natural tree’s.
Getting a natural Christmas tree is not only sure to get you feeling festive, but a live tree is beautiful, fragrant and biodegradable too. Most are cut at the base of the trunk, (which in essence does kill them – sniff) but you can buy them with roots too, meaning that you can plant yours out post-Christmas and let it thrive in your garden ready for next year.
The Tinsel Alternatives
When it comes to decorating your tree and home, dabble in a little DIY. Opting for natural Christmas decorations is sure to give your home a real festive charm, while it’s far more earth-friendly too.
Steering away from plastic and PVC – which baubles and tinsel are typically made from – will mean there’s less waste to end up in a landfill and you’ll save a bob or two along the way. Collect pine cones, snippets of ivy and holly to create original ornaments. Use them to make your own wreath, to stand alone on a mantelpiece or attach them to a little string to hang off your tree. It’s a great excuse to get outside with friends or a loved one, plus it’s the perfect way to entertain kids for a few hours, just wrap up warm!
While greens and reds keep in with the traditional Christmas colours, you can use silver or gold paints to get a shiny finish too! Cass Art has some spray paint and normal acrylic paint options which are also CFC free (better for the environment) and near-odourless (more pleasant for you). Paper garlands are a great tinsel alternative as are cinnamon sticks, baked orange slices and gingerbread. The latter being the tastier option as you’ll be able to eat your decorations rather than create more waste!
Then when it comes to lighting, choose LED fairy lights which are more energy efficient. If you insist on creating a Santa’s Grotto-esque entrance to your home or in your garden space, choose solar-powered options or be sure to keep your lights on a timer so that they’re not using power at all hours of the day. Amazon (naturally) has a bountiful selection of solar powered and waterproof lights.
Get Crafty with Christmas Party Drinks
When mulled wine is top of the list of Christmas tipples, alongside prosecco, Whiskey for your Hot Toddys and brandy for the pud – yes you’ve seen the ridiculous amount of recycling that can be left after Noël.
While the good ol’ wine box is often frowned upon for being a less swish and perhaps a poor quality alternative to the real deal, the wine box is in fact far greener, cheaper and more practical too. It’s a lighter package to transport compared to glass bottles, plus you’ll be able to recycle/reuse the box and find a creative way to use that plastic bag! Boxes can contain 4 bottles of wine, which (not that it will be an issue at Christmas) will last longer than bottled booze too.
So if you’ve got a few gatherings on your Christmas calendar, pick up a few wine boxes, plus a keg or two of cider and beer – there will be no end to your (responsible) festive fun while your carbon footprint will be greatly reduced too. Morrisons has a good selection of quality wine cases and cider kegs, with vegan options too.
Waste Not Want Not
Playing with what you’ve got and being more conscious of what you spend your money on each Christmas will literally bring joy to the world. Thinking outside the box and only buying the necessary will help reduce your household waste, while putting your pennies towards something wholesome will let everyone enjoy a humble and happy Christmas. As you’ve seen, some small changes to your traditional Christmas habits can help you be more eco-friendly at this time of year, without sacrificing any of the festive frivolities either, now that’s our kind of party.