Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, yet sometimes we forget about all the waste that comes with it. The wrapping paper, decorations, excess food, unnecessary gifts and even a real tree can be extremely harmful to our environment. Therefore this year we can try and make a more conscious effort to prevent this by following these simple tips and tricks that will make your Christmas not only more eco-friendly, but even more beautiful and festive.
Every Christmas, we bulk buy presents and some people even start at the end of September. However, Christmas shouldn’t be about who spends the most or who can get the most presents the quickest; It’s about celebrating each other and spending time with loved ones. So, this Christmas, look at getting presents that last!
Potted plants are fantastic presents that not only last a long time (if properly taken care of), but are also friendly to the planet. Another option is to minimise the spending (for a big family or a “friend”-Christmas) by doing Secret Santa, which allows you to dedicate time on one present without spending hundreds of pounds on miscellaneous gifts for everyone, which we all know is to make it seem like there are more presents under the tree*.
Another way to shop more sustainably is heading over to your local shops; lockdown has created a catastrophic impact on small businesses and pushed them to create new ways of selling their products and uploading them onto Etsy: This is a reliable platform with a large choice of products created by small businesses and individuals, they are usually hand-made or upcycled, helping reduce that mass production that large companies are well known for.
*if you want to make your tree look like it has hundreds of presents under it without spending a fortune and being ‘Green’, head over to decorations.
The Christmas Tree Dilemma
The Dilemma of the real or artificial tree continues when in reality, they are both extremely harmful to the environment. With over 7 million trees getting dumped at the end of the festive season, we create a larger waste than we would with an artificial tree and none the less, an artificial tree will only become sustainable after 20 years or more of usage. So how do we solve the problem?
Easy – If you’re an artificial tree lover and hate the hassle of a real tree, then invest in a high quality and durable artificial Christmas tree that will last you through the years; you can purchase sprays that smell like pine to give it a “real” aroma. On the other hand, for those who are die-hard REAL tree fanatics, look into renting a tree. The price for a rental tree starts from £20 (the same as if you bought it) and at the end of the Christmas season it gets collected and replanted again for its use the year after. With this we are minimising the damage to our environment, reducing landfill waste and prevent forested areas from becoming in danger.
There isn’t a doubt that every Christmas, more and more wrapping paper and sellotape get used and we very rarely recycle it, with an estimate waste of 4 rolls per household, around 227,000 miles which is the same distance from the Earth to the Moon. This Christmas, we can all make the conscious effort of learning new and innovative ways to reuse wrapping paper or fabric and experiment with different ways of wrapping gifts that are more eco-friendly.
- Reuse those old gift bags, wrapping paper and ribbons that have been piling up over the years. Didn’t save them? Not to worry, here you can make a decision to purchase recyclable wrapping paper (ie. Brown paper or glitter and foil free paper) or even ask friends and family if they have any spare. You can wrap it without any sellotape* and use string or raffia to tie it all together.
- Choose Fabric! Heading over to a charity or second-hand shop and purchasing a nice scarf to wrap a gift in is a great idea to give someone a 2-in-1 gift this Christmas.
- Get reusable wrapping bags: ‘Not On The High Street’ do some beautiful linen bags that can be used all year round for any purpose. Primark have designed their famous paper bags with a red stripped print for their customers to use as wrapping paper to prevent the wastage of non-recyclable wrapping paper.
The best way to be eco-friendly with your Christmas decorations is to reuse them, however, sometimes we want to switch up the theme and the most sustainable way to do this is shopping second hand. Charity shops do bags of baubles colour coded or mixed, costing a lot less than getting new ones. Alternatively, buying decorations made out of organic products, glass, wood or fabric as opposed to plastic or PVC can reduce the waste and are more sustainable in the long run and can be used / passed down through the generations.
Make Your Tree Look Fuller Without Going over Budget:
I’m sure many of us have plenty of boxes lying around or sitting in the recycling pile, so to make your Christmas Tree look like there is more presents there you can use the same wrapping techniques. The boxes can then be recycled and the wrapping paper can be saved for next year (or other gifts).
Without a doubt the festive season is when we are most likely to over indulge. However, every year tons of food go to waste when we don’t eat it or over buy for a ‘just in case’ moments. A smart idea is to prepare a list (and not divert from it), as well as following a recipe to avoid panic and over buying when you head over to the supermarket. If there are leftovers, the best thing to do is use it! Vegetables are ideal for soups which can be frozen and eaten at a later date, meat can be used for a curry or sandwiches on boxing day and even cheeseboard bits can be all blended into a ‘luxury’ mac and cheese.
When shopping for your products, the best recommendation would be to shop local or organic, as all the produce has very little to no pesticides and the meat has less hormones. If you are heading over to a supermarket, avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic. You can also take all your reusable bags to avoid buying more plastic bags (which end up sitting under the sink for years on end).