Following COP26 we are all thinking more about how the decisions we make can have an impact. Small changes can make an impact on reducing our environmental footprint, lots of small changes can have a cumulative effect. Its especially important over christmas when the potential for waste is high
However you plan to celebrate the festive period here are some sustainable Christmas ideas from eco friendly Christmas decorations to more sustainable gifting.
Read on for tips on how to have a more sustainable Christmas
There are various arguments about whether artificial trees or real trees are more eco-friendly. However my heart winces at the thought of so many Christmas trees being cut down, so what are your options?
Renting a Christmas tree
Trees can be rented, delivered to your door and then collected post christmas and re planted. Love a christmas tree gives you the option to either buy or rent a tree. They deliver it, you care for it over the festive period and then it can be collected post Christmas.
Buying a Christmas tree
Buy a potted Christmas tree to reuse year after year. Between Christmases it will flourish outdoors and grow bushier and bigger. Bringing your tree indoors could be an annual tradition and when it’s too big could always be decorated outside. Try to ensure it’s been grown as locally as possible.
Sustainable Alternatives to a Traditional Christmas Tree
Think a little outside the box and there are lots of wooden tree variations you can buy or make yourself from materials you already have at home or recycle from elsewhere.
Coxandcox have some great ideas on alternative Christmas trees, like a driftwood tree, a frosted branches hanging tree or a hanging tree canvas.
Sustainable Tree Decorations
Decorating your tree often becomes an annual tradition for the festive season with the whole family getting involved. The most sustainable type of Christmas decorations will be items that become family heirlooms and come out year after year.
You can also make your own Christmas decorations from foraged red berries, holly and mistletoe. Eco friendly paint could be used to decorate pine cones which could be reused year after year. Or make decorations from pieces of leftover fabric, fire flies and mud pies have a tutorial on how to make cute ornaments from fabric scraps. This would also be a lovely activity to do with young children.
Finding the perfect gift can always be hard and can also induce a commercial buying frenzy which is probably the opposite to what Christmas and the festive period is all about.
Gifting for children
Starting young, try a less is more approach with children. We all want children to experience the magic of Christmas, however try to stress the importance of quality over quantity. It’s hard to escape the volume of plastic involved in children’s toy production. If your child desperately wants the latest doll, try to buy preloved items. Often the children won’t notice the difference and they won’t be frustrated by all the difficult packaging that needs to be removed.
Gifting for adults
There are so many options for adults, one that is close to my heart is gifting experiences rather than items. From theatre tickets to language courses, if there’s anything your loved one has wanted to do, help them make it happen. An experience will be treasured far longer than a physical gift. If this is out of your budget an e book on the subject could delight or make your own experience, day out or adventure with handwritten notes or instructions. Your efforts will certainly touch hearts and create memories that will last.
If you want to buy a physical gift, try to buy from a company that has sustainable ethics. Look for items that have been made from recycled materials, have been upcycled, or try edible gifts from local artisan suppliers.
Eco Friendly Wrapping
Think about how you wrap your gifts, wrapping paper is often not sustainably produced. Try reusable gift bags or wrap gifts with fabric that can be used year after year. Try a Furoshiki reusable wrapping cloth. The Fabric Wrapping Company has lots of wrapping paper alternatives to try, or you could use any material you have in your house such as square scarves or pashminas. Here are some ideas on how to wrap with scarves. Or if you have to use wrapping paper look for recycled, biodegradable with low ink. If you are giving food you could wrap it with beeswax wraps.
Billions of cards get sent all over the world every year. That’s a lot of paper and postage. It can also be quite time consuming and with people moving about more and addresses to find it can become a lot of work. Now that we can do most things digitally, it makes sence for cards to enter the online world. Here are some alternatives.
Make a holiday slideshow. While it still may take time, you will probably enjoy doing it and will be something your recipient will enjoy much more than a card. Its also something you can keep and watch year after year. There are lots of options like Smilebox who can store all your addresses, or apps like Icecream app slideshow maker
Send an ecard. You could use a photo and edit it. Draw or design something yourself and upload it to your pc. There are also lots of service providers which will enable you like Blue Mountain or Punchbowl.
If you really want to send a physical card, make it a postcard, much less paper is used. Look for recycled postcards with low ink, or make your own from cards you may have received in previous years. Another great activity for kids.
So your house is decorated and gifts planned. What about an environmentally friendly christmas dinner that avoids food waste?
What To Eat And Where To Get It
Plan ahead. Christmas is notorious for excessive food and lots of leftovers. Try to minimise your food waste by thinking through everything you will need from turkeys to puddings.
Source local suppliers and team up with neighbours and friends to do group deliveries or collections. Look for products with minimal packaging and buy loose vegetables, this will also help you not to buy more than you need. Making food from scratch can also cut down on packaging.
If you are unsure whether things might get eaten, buy frozen, tinned, or long life so that it can be stored and eaten at a later date.
Don’t let your eco-consciousness stop you enjoying a festive drink, there are lots of organic and sustainable wine producers popping up. Benziger Family Winery, have been using solar power to produce biodynamic wine since the 1980’s. Forty Hall Vineyard is a community vineyard and organic farm and food hub run mainly by volunteers. Or visit Vintage Roots who have a great selection of organic wines to choose from.
Food Prep and Storage
We get through a lot of foil and clingfilm at Christmas, look for alternatives such as beeswax wraps, food storage boxes that can be reused, or use bowls and plates to cover and stack in the fridge.
Cook with care and try to group things that need to be cooked at similar temperatures at the same time.
Bones and peelings can be kept to make broth or stock. Sometimes a good clean is enough and vegetables don’t need peeling, saving food waste and all that prep time!
Make sure you empty your freezer so that you have space to store any leftovers and ensure you label and date everything.
Turn your leftovers into another dish, there are so many recipes where you can convert leftovers into something totally new and delicious. One of my favorites is the leftover christmas pie. Click on pieminster for a great recipe. Yum!
We hope you have enjoyed our round up of sustainable christmas ideas for your festive season. We hope some of these will be easy changes for you to incorporate when planning your christmas and buying gifts for friends and family. Small changes have a cumulative effect, not only do your small changes add up but when combined with others can be the direction of change. When family and friends see how sustainable changes can be easy, it will inspire and encourage them to incorporate change and also have an eco friendly Christmas .
For more tips on easy sustainable living changes you can make to your daily life click here.