10 ideas for a sustainable Christmas

Unlike most people, we’re not dreaming of a white Christmas. We want our festive season to be green! At this time of year, it’s easy to get carried away with the festivities but do spare a thought for the environmental impact of your celebrations. With just a few quick and easy changes to your Yuletide plans, you can make a difference and save money too.

10 ideas for a sustainable Christmas

The seemingly little choices we make at Christmas can have a big impact. What to serve for the family meal, which gifts to buy and what to deck the halls with. There are lots of opportunities during the festive season to choose organic and make a difference. After all, organic works with nature, using real ingredients, with animals free to forage and graze on land that’s home to more wildlife. And who wouldn’t want to raise a glass to that come Christmas Day?

Here are our top ten tips for a more sustainable Christmas:

Cook once, eat twice
Recent figures suggest the UK throws out the equivalent of two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74 million mince pies. Reduce your food waste by carefully planning what you buy, using leftovers and freezing table scraps.

Choose organic
Of the 10 million turkeys sold each year in the UK, 90% have been reared intensively. When you choose organic meat, you know that the animals have been fed a non-GM diet and were free to roam outside. In fact, organic farming offers the highest standards of animal welfare available. When planning your Christmas dinner even just opting for one organic ingredient, like carrots or potatoes, will make a difference. Choosing organic helps build a better food system – one that has many benefits including supporting up to 50% more wildlife.

If possible in your area, opt for local produce too. The shorter transport distance from field to fork, the lower the carbon emissions. Many farmers’ markets and independent shops are great for finding organic food and drink made in the surrounding area. Just look for the EU little green organic leaf to find food you can trust.

Organic food and drink can be more expensive, because it often costs more to produce. However, there are many ways you can eat better for less, check out our shopping tips to make organic more affordable.

It’s time to lighten up
Buying Christmas candles? Paraffin (a by-product of gas and oil refineries) candles are made from petroleum residue, so make sure you go for ones made from beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax – which are much better for your health and the environment.

Keep it down! 
Simple but effective, turning down the thermostat by one degree will make a huge difference. What with a house full of people and the oven on full tilt, your house will be warmer than usual. Plus, you'll not only save carbon and money but it's a good excuse to don your most outrageous Christmas jumper.

Turn it off
Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, so turn them off when they’re not needed. Better still, use a timer so you don't have to remember.

All wrapped up
In the UK we collectively throw away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper, which is enough to stretch nine times around the world! Swap foil wrapping paper for newspaper, old magazines or plain brown paper which can be easily recycled. Even better, go Japanese and learn the art of cloth wrapping (or, furoshiki) using material that can be used again and again. You may end up being the butt of some Scrooge-based jokes among your family, but wear it with pride - safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit to reduce waste.

Go natural
Take inspiration for your decorations from the great outdoors and ditch the plastic. Collect pine cones, twigs, berries, sprigs of evergreen plants and oranges to create wreaths, centrepieces and simple ornaments. You could even upcycle old books into paper chains or bunting. Your house will feel festive in no time and even better, it won’t cost you a penny!

Season’s greetings
On average, each person in the UK receives 17 Christmas cards. That's a lot of trees. Make sure you choose recycled options or even send an e-card. And come January, make sure you recycle all your cards or even make gift tags with them for next year's festivities.

Get frosty
Not the most joyful activity, but defrosting your freezer before you fill it with your organic Christmas fodder could save big on electricity and money - perhaps as much as £100 a year!

Host with the most
We all love a good party but they can result in lots of unnecessary waste. You’ll save money too, of course, so do everything you can to avoid using disposable plates and cutlery. If you don't have enough dishware than ask guests to bring some with them. If you really can't face all that washing up, choose 100% compostable dishes, napkin and utensils as a last resort.

Jemma Moran

Jemma Moran

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