Did you know that Royal Mail delivers an average of 150 million cards and parcels throughout the Christmas season, and 1.5 billion cards are estimated to end up in the bin after 25 December? We’ll let that sink in for a second.
Whether you’re already an eco-warrior (*digital hi-5*) looking for more tips or completely new to the whole ‘sustainability’ thing, the good news is that Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet, because there are so many easy ways to help minimise our impact on the environment.
Think everything from opting for a real tree to recycling wrapping paper and minimising food waste, here are our top 7 tips to make this year the best festive (and greenest) season yet…
Start with the Christmas tree
Not only does a natural tree look a hundred times better than it’s less eco-friendly counterpart, it also smells amazing. Once it has fulfilled its purpose (and with proper disposal) it can be dropped off at a local tip for processing and turned into something new. Have your heart set on a plastic tree? Opt for one that will last a lifetime and won’t need to be replaced every single year.
Invest in decorations that will last a lifetime
From glitter confetti to plastic baubles and PVC tinsel, Christmas can sometimes be plastic overkill – but it doesn’t have to be. Luckily there’s a plethora of decorations made of natural materials such as wood, paper, fabric and glass which will instantly elevate any room and make it look both festive and sophisticated.
Give waste-free and ethical gifts
Being conscious about your impact on the planet doesn’t have to mean gifting rubbish presents. Big and small retailers are catching on to the public’s desire for things that are better for the environment; with everything from sustainable clothing and shoes to candles, soaps, and make-up, there are hundreds of ethical options available. Plus, an eco-friendly present also adds another layer to the thoughtfulness of the gift itself.
Cut the wrapping paper
Unfortunately the prettiest, flashiest and shiniest of wrapping papers have a number of nasty materials mixed in them, which will eventually contribute to the current climate crisis. Head down to your local post office or arts and crafts shop and grab a couple of rolls of brown paper – it’s more eco-friendly and looks super cute, plus it’s a lot cheaper. You could even get creative and swap seal ribbons for drawn on versions, using fabric gift bags instead of paper ones, or even reusing wrapping paper and gift bags that you’ve received.
Plan the festive feast accordingly
Avoid any food wastage this Christmas by planning ahead and knowing the exact number of mouths there will be at the table to feed. Buy only what you need when grocery shopping and make an effort to try and finish off all of the food (we’re sure you’ll manage fine with this one). Store any leftovers properly so that they keep for longer and can be used for future meals, and if food has to be thrown away throw it in a compost heap instead. Tis’ the season to indulge, not to waste.
Be smart about cards
Remember those 1.5 billion cards thrown away? If the thought of skipping Christmas cards entirely seems a little miserable, opt for sustainably-sourced designs for more considered purchases this year. Steer clear of anything covered in glitter or other plastic decorations, and reach for cards that are made of recycled paper and cardboard. Alternatively, you could always send a digital Christmas card which is free, and donate what you would have spent on a physical card to a local charity instead.
Think twice about crackers
Let’s face it, Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be the same without pulling crackers – but have you ever noticed just how much plastic comes out of a single pack of six? Often boxed in plastic, the wrapper itself isn’t eco-friendly and most of the toys (which we never keep) are made of plastic too, even the window on the packaging is made of acetate. John Lewis & Partners and Sainsbury’s offer envirosafe crackers so you can snap, hat and joke without spoiling the environment.