Christmas can be a challenging time of year for action against climate change. Regardless of how or why you celebrate it, Christmas is more often than not about consumption. However, as more of us are looking to make truly sustainable changes to protect the planet and improve our daily lives. Christmas is the perfect time to take climate change action and join the movement towards a sustainable future.
From the things we eat and wear, to the places we shop and the gifts we give, there are so many ways we can all help to build a better world.
Here are five easy things that you can do, to help encourage positive change, reduce waste and have a more sustainable Christmas this year.
1. Rethink gift-giving
23 million unwanted gifts go to landfill each year in the UK. There are so many alternatives to physical gifts such as experiences to enjoy and remember. Second hand items such as books and clothing can also be a good choice and online music subscriptions or gifting an app or vouchers for a spa day are all gifts which would help avoid excessive consumption.
And when it comes to children’s gifts – remember the old adage – ‘something they want, something they need, something to eat and something to read’.
2. Reduce festive food waste
Planning to stock-up this Christmas? Before dashing to the supermarket, make sure to think about how to reduce food waste. Almost 270,000 tonnes of food waste is created over the Christmas period including 2 million turkeys, 17 million Brussel sprouts, 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings. Food waste is responsible for 6-8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Not only that, but with us all looking to save money due to rising living costs. It’s worth implementing a strategy when it comes to buying your Christmas goodies.
Keeping to a shopping list, creating a food planner, using up leftovers, using a basket and avoiding any unnecessary aisles when nipping into shops will reduce the temptation of additional purchases – saving you money and preventing waste.
3. Get creative with gift wrapping
Annually, we throw away enough wrapping paper to circle the globe a staggering nine times. We get it, presentation is important when it comes to wrapping Christmas presents. A well wrapped gift is appreciated, we agree! We’re not saying that gifts can’t be stunningly wrapped in fact, we can have the best of both worlds – beautifully wrapped gifts and help the environment. We just need to be conscious of the materials we use to wrap.
Did you know that not all wrapping paper can be recycled? Features that prevent wrapping paper from being recycled include, glitter, a heavy plastic coating or foil. For recyclable wrapping paper look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo or paper that’s natural in texture and appearance with little embellishment and no plastic coating. Brown parcel paper makes great wrapping paper and gives presents a rustic and warm feel. Remember, sticky tape can’t be recycled so it’s important to use an alternative adhesive – eco-friendly glues are available. Keep wrapping you have received and re-use it for future presents.
If you’re feeling creative, old clothes make an excellent alternative to wrapping paper. Inspired by the ancient method, Furoshiki, a Japanese technique used to wrap goods in fabric for storage or transportation. For an extra personal touch, use old clothes, clean bedsheets, pillowcases and scraps of fabric to wrap Christmas gifts.
Use an old jumper sleeve to wrap a bottle or, a trouser leg to wrap a book! For ways on how to wrap your gifts with old clothes click here.
4. Support local
The festive season is a great opportunity to share our gratitude through thoughtful Christmas gifts. What better way to do this than purchasing unique and quality gifts provided by local independent businesses. Whether you’re purchasing in person or via a local businesses website, there are many benefits to shopping small or buying locally as money and jobs are kept in a local area, funds are passed through the community allowing improvements and growth in town centres. Plus! It’s often better for the environment as products are using less packaging and don’t have to travel as far.
If you’re feeling extra creative you could create your own Christmas gifts, homemade biscuits, jam and decorations make great alternatives to shop bought gifts! Here’s some homemade gift ideas to get you started.
5. Real vs. fake – the great Christmas tree debate!
Around 10 million artificial trees are purchased in the British Isles each season. Most of which are shipped across the world from China, resulting in increased carbon emissions and resources. Due to the materials that they are made of (mostly plastic), most artificial trees aren’t recyclable and end-up in landfills. Res
earch shows that they can offset their carbon footprint if used for 10+ years
Real Christmas trees are more eco-friendly and a better choice for the environment. It may feel counter-intuitive, but it’s much more sustainable to cut down a real tree each year from a local supplier. That’s because most small-scale Christmas tree farms are inherently sustainable, leaving certain sections open for harvesting every year, while keeping other arears closed to give younger trees a chance to grow.
Did you know that it takes roughly 7 years for a Christmas tree to grow to an average size? As they grow they absorb carbon and use ten times fewer resources than artificial tree factories. However, they need to be disposed of responsibly and the best way to do that is to have them shredded and used for chippings. Avoid putting them in landfill as they release methane as they decompose.
If none of the above suit there’s also potted trees available! Rising in popularity, potted trees are grown from seed in pots, the tree is more stable and due to specially designed holes in the pot the trees stay cooler and have a more consistent root temperature. Bonus, you can watch your Christmas tree grow!