Top Tips to Make Your Christmas More Sustainable

With Christmas around the corner, there’s always something that needs doing, whether its gifts to be wrapped, food to buy, or parties to attend (virtual or otherwise). We know with all that festive cheer comes a fair amount of stress, but if you have time, why not try adding one more thing to that to-do list; being more sustainable?

As probably the holiday of consumption, it may sound counterintuitive to have a sustainable Christmas. But there are things you can do which will make the most wonderful time of the year that bit easier on the planet. 

At Go Eco we’ve compiled a number of tips so that you can make some of those key areas of Christmas a little greener. 

The Christmas Tree 

The centrepiece of every family Christmas is always the tree, but real or fake remains the eternal festive question. Although chopping trees down is bad for the planet, a real tree actually has a smaller carbon footprint than a fake. Most real Christmas trees are sustainably farmed, meaning that more trees are planted when one is cut down. Woodland Trust estimate that up to 10 trees are planted for every one cut down to go in someone’s living room. 

The key is to buy a tree that is locally grown, or at the least not imported, to reduce transport emissions. It is also important to dispose of your tree properly, as trees in landfill emit methane as they decompose. If you do have a fake tree, use it for as long as possible, as most are made from un-recyclable plastic. To offset the emissions from manufacturing, a fake tree must be used for around 20 years. 

An increasingly popular option is to rent a Christmas tree. Christmas tree rentals, available from places like Rental Claus in Cheltenham,  allow you to have a potted, living tree in your home for the festive season, which can then be replanted in the New Year. The tree therefore lives on beyond Christmas, and provides a habitat for local wildlife all year round. 

The Decorations

Decking the halls with boughs of holly may not be the worst idea if you fancy a sustainable Christmas. By now we are all well-versed in how bad plastic is for the environment, so opting for organic decorations like wreaths and mistletoe is a great way to bring some Christmas ambience into your home without polluting the planet. 

The same goes for Christmas decorations. No one is saying throw away your plastic baubles – in fact it is better to use these for as long as possible. However, sustainability can also breed creativity. Get crafty and make recyclable paper chains or 3D stars to hang from your ceiling. Edible Christmas decorations are also a great way to have some quality family time and innovative decor, so bake some treats and hang them on your Christmas tree!

If you’re thinking of pulling crackers, a variety of brands make either fabric or sustainably sourced and recyclable paper toys. They are available at a range of prices, from places including Kaneo, Nancy and Betty and many more on Etsy.   

The Gifts 

While this year we are encouraging all our readers to shop local to green their gift list, we also have some other tips for you here. 

Buying experiences is a great way to avoid gifts which will end up in landfill or are unsustainably made. Here we’re recommending staying local again. Vouchers for local restaurants or theatre tickets are a great way to support small businesses and the arts in your area. Donating money to a conservation or climate change charity can also make a good gift for one of your eco-conscious loved ones.  

Gift wrapping is another great focus to make your Christmas more sustainable. A lot of wrapping paper is made with plastic and isn’t recyclable. Top tip; if you scrunch up a section of the paper, and it remains in a crinkled ball, it is recyclable. If not, or it has glitter, it is not. Recyclable and recycled wrapping paper, and sustainable wrapping paper alternatives are available from Ecovibe, Little Green and Re-wrapped.

Our advice may sound old fashioned but sometimes that’s the best way. Fold up wrapping paper and save it for next year; this really is a great way of avoiding throw away culture and unnecessary waste. 

The Food 

While we will be sharing a complete guide of how to make your Christmas dinner more sustainable, we have a few additional tips to share in the meantime!

All your festive spices such as cinnamon and ginger can be bought fairtrade, guaranteeing the highest environmental standards. For those of us who enjoy a drink at Christmas, eco-friendly wines are available from Buon Vino, Sea Change, and Bib.  And for those after dinner chocs, check out our article on chocolate for tips on where to buy the best eco-friendly treats. 

And all that remains, is for us to wish you a very merry, and hopefully slightly more sustainable, Christmas!

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