12 Days of Sustainable Christmas

12 Days of Sustainable Christmas

With Christmas quickly approaching, it can be easy to get caught up in the festivities. But sadly, a lot of people don’t realise that Christmas is one of the most harmful times of the year for the environment. In fact, in just over three days of festivities over Christmas, the average Brit will create the same level of carbon emissions as they would on a flight from London to L.A.

That’s why we’ve listed below, some of our top tips for having a slightly “greener” Christmas.

1. Choose a gift that lasts

Make sure to only buy people presents which will last for a long time and be genuinely useful. Statistics have shown that, on average, only 1% of gifts are still used 6 months after Christmas. The rest often end up sitting unused in a cupboard or being sent to landfill sites.

2. Shop locally and shop small

Supporting small businesses helps boost a strong, sustainable local economy, and often bypasses the largely unsustainable supply chains of major international companies.

3. Give a handmade gift

Handmade gifts from paintings to scrapbooks to home-baked goods can be a lovely way to show your love at Christmas time. It also has the added benefit of avoiding the environmentally unfriendly supply chains of large organisations as well as the carbon emissions involved in delivering your gifts.

4. Use eco-friendly wrapping paper

Each year, approximately 27,000 miles of wrapping paper gets used in the UK alone, and most of it ends up in landfills or gets wrongly recycled and messes up the waste streams. Where possible, try to use recyclable wrapping paper. Sticky tape, ribbons and paper covered in glitter can't be recycled, so stay away from those if you can.

(A good way to judge if the wrapping paper is recyclable is by using the “scrunch test” - scrunch up a piece of wrapping paper into a ball, if it stays in a ball, it can be recycled).

5. Use handmade decorations

Another point of mass consumption during the festive season is Christmas decorations. It is always best to try to source your decorations from local, sustainable, and ethical shops, and try to buy decorations which will last for a long time and can be passed down through the family.

6. Switch to eco-friendly Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers can also be a huge contributor to waste in the UK. Most cannot be recycled and the plastic toys normally end up in the bin before the meal is even over. Keep an eye out for recyclable and plastic-free crackers – you can even find reusable crackers in some stores.

7. Re-use Christmas tree decorations or use second-hand gifts

Unless your baubles are damaged or broken, do your best to reuse them each year – and it doesn't even have to be on your tree. You could use baubles as table decorations or place names, or you could use string to hang them on door handles.

8. Look into alternative Christmas trees

Artificial trees can have a big negative impact on the environment and do not biodegrade for many years. Instead, you can rent a Christmas tree locally, as this is much more environmentally friendly and each tree gets replanted at the end of the festive season.

9. Turn your houseplant into a Christmas tree

Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle of renting a tree every year - get creative! See what houseplants you have that you can turn into a unique Christmas tree.

10. Buy plantable Christmas cards

Each year, one billion Christmas cards end up in the bin. To avoid this, you can buy plantable Christmas cards. When the biodegradable paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds in the card will grow and eventually the paper will decompose - leaving behind zero waste.

11. Cut food waste

Each year, the equivalent of 2 million turkeys end up in the bin. To cut down on food waste, try not to over-buy when doing your Christmas shop and if you do end up with leftovers, transform them into something else or add them to a compost heap.

12. Re-wear your Christmas jumper

Everybody loves a Christmas Jumper, but 95% of Christmas jumpers are made using plastic, and buying new ones each year drastically adds to landfill sites and greenhouse gas emissions.

Hopefully, these tips can help you have a very merry (and green) Christmas!

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