With Christmas just around the corner, we often get caught up the magic and excitement, with little consideration for the impact that our choices have on the environment. A 2017 study found that Britons dispose of approximately 108 billion rolls of wrapping paper and fill almost 100 million black bags with toys and gifts each year. However, from plant based glitter, to rent-a-tree services, it is now easier than ever to make small changes in your Christmas buying habits and have the most eco-friendly Christmas yet.
Here are 5 simple ways to make your Christmas more sustainable this year.
- Sustainable gift wrapping
Making your presents look beautiful under the tree while we ponder as to what’s inside leading up to big day, is one of the best parts of the Christmas. Nevertheless, we can make our presents look beautiful AND be sustainable. More than half of us already re-use last year’s wrapping paper however, many rolls contain non-recyclable elements such as plastic, foil and glitter. Try using brown paper or eco-friendly wrapping paper that can be reused and recycled instead, or why not shred your wrapping paper and use it as protective packaging for future gifts?
If you want to know if your paper can be recycled, just use the scrunch test! Scrunch the paper in your hands into a tight ball and then let it go. If it starts to unfold, it is likely to contain non-recyclable material. If it keeps its shape, it can be recycled!
- Rent a tree
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually far more sustainable to buy a real Christmas tree than it is to buy a reusable, artificial alternative. Whilst it is true that several million real trees will be disposed of every year, a recent study concluded that for a fake tree to be more sustainable it would have to be used for at least 20 years.
Why not go one step further and rent a real tree from a British farm? Companies such as bctga.co.uk and growninbritain.org can be used to find a local supplier. Many firms now offer the option to have a tree delivered to your door to decorate and care for over the festive period, they’ll then pick it up and replant it in January.
- Re-usable advent calendar
Investing in a wooden advent calendar rather than a disposable shop-bought one each year is not only a quick win for the planet, but it can also be a thoughtful Christmas gift that can be personalised and kept forever.
- Make sure you use LED lights
Whether you just use fairy lights to decorate the tree or create a luminous winter wonderland, using LED lights instead of traditional fluorescent/incandescent lights is a great way to be more energy efficient this Christmas. The solar Electric Power Company explained that 95% of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is subsequently lost as heat. By comparison, fluorescent lights convert just 5% of energy into light with the remaining 95% being wasted as heat. Whilst LED lights can be more expensive than the alternatives, they will last longer and make a better long-term investment.
- Plan ahead and cut down on food waste
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without having one too many pigs and blankets and immediately regretting it, right? However, a staggering amount of food goes to waste every year as hosts over buy and end up throwing leftovers away. There are great options for reusing leftovers on boxing day; for example, making bubble and squeak, turkey gumbo, or creamy mac and cheese from a leftover cheese board.
Sustainable food buying habits begin much before dinnertime, it is also about where we get our food from. Buying organic food is the best way to ensure that harmful pesticides haven’t been used in the growing process. Moreover, sourcing food from local suppliers and farmers markets is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas dinner. There are also small changes you can make if buying from a supermarket, for example choosing loose veg rather than packaged alternatives.
Have you got any more tips to make 2020 the most sustainable Christmas yet? Let us know!