Guide for a Sustainable Christmas
It’s almost here – the most wonderful time of the year! Mulled wine brewing. Fairy-lights twinkling. Tinsel hanging. Christmas jumpers flaunting.
But, lurking behind the magic is an unsettling – and quite often overlooked – reality that perpetually taints the Christmas experience: overconsumption.
The hedonic treadmill many of us hop on this time of year has led to some not-so-festive facts:
- According to the National Retail Federation, Americans were predicted to spend between $843.4 and $859 billion over the festive period (November and December 2020).
- Consumers in the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and throw away 1.5 billion Christmas cards each year.
- 120 million trees are cut down every Christmas worldwide resulting in significant deforestation and CO2 emissions.
- The carbon footprint of the average turkey roast dinner for a family of 6 is the equivalent of driving 78.5 miles in an average UK petrol car.
- Australians receive 20 million unwanted gifts at Christmas time and tend to waste over 25% of food.
7 Sustainable Christmas Tips
In the face of a burgeoning climate crisis, it’s time to find alternatives to the groundswell of unsustainable activities that dominate the festive period.
So, let’s make this Christmas a conscious one.
1. Sustainable Secret Santa
How many Secret Santa gifts have you received over the years that were either thrown away (almost) immediately – or, are still gathering dust at the bottom of your wardrobe?
Let’s put an end to the needless – and often plastic – gifts that traditionally come with the Secret Santa territory.
If you are organising Secret Santa this year, why not make preloved or handmade gifts a prerequisite? Alternatively, organise a collection and donate to a charity– see point 4!
2. Eco Wrapping Paper
Beautifully wrapped Christmas presents under the tree are very aesthetically pleasing; however, most decorative wrapping paper contains unsustainable materials – such as glitter and foil – that can’t be recycled.
Rather than wrapping presents in plastic this year, opt for colourful fabrics or paper that is recycled or FSC certified. You could even adorn your gifts with decorative fabric ribbons that can be used again for future holidays!
3. Recycled or Handmade Christmas Cards
Try reducing the number of cards you send in the post this Christmas.
Look at switching to paperless e-cards, recycled, FSC certified or handmade alternatives. For example, plantable Christmas cards – made from biodegradable eco-paper interlaced with seeds – are a great zero- waste alternative. Once you’ve finished displaying your card, plant it and watch it grow!
4. Donate to an Environmental Charity
If you are short on present ideas this Christmas, why not give a gift to the planet instead? From tree-planting schemes right through to animal adoption programmes, there are a myriad of environmental causes you can support this Christmas.
5. Go Plant-Based
Turkey, cheese, chocolate, pigs in blankets –there are many delicious foods to relish in over the festive period.
As the world’s appetite for meat and dairy explodes, the environment continues to pay the price. Animal farming is very resource intensive and requires a plethora of land, energy and water. Huge areas of essential rainforests, wetlands and grasslands are relentlessly destroyed for ranching and animal feed. Livestock farming is responsible for 60% of the agricultural industry’s total greenhouse gas emissions, whilst agriculture and deforestation account for a quarter of the world’s emissions.
The plant – based diet is becoming increasingly more popular –and accessible – in recent years as a growing number of individuals, brands and supermarkets now offer affordable veggie and vegan alternatives. Why not check out the likes of Deliciously Ella and Fearne Cotton for some yummy festive recipes?
If the temptation for turkey dinner is simply too great, buy organic meats and support small – scale farming wherever possible.
6. Choose Sustainable and Ethical Brands
If you’re looking to buy new this Christmas, stick to sustainable and ethical brands that prioritise eco-friendly materials, fair working conditions and sustainable manufacturing. Remember – it’s always better to buy quality over quantity!
Check out our Sustainable and Ethical Brand Guides for some gift inspiration.
7. Sustainability Certifications
Sustainability certifications are a great way to help consumers identify which brands follow sustainable and ethical processes. Here are just some examples of certifications to look out for when Christmas shopping this year: