1. Christmas Tree
Real or artificial? There’s some dividing opinion but most research suggests it’s better to buy a real tree than an artificial one. Why? Artificial trees are made mostly from plastic so aren’t recyclable and are usually made abroad and shipped to the UK. The Carbon Trust calculate the carbon footprint of a 2m artificial tree is 40kg, compared to 3.5kg for a real tree that is chipped or burned after use.
You can make your choice of real tree more sustainable by opting for one that’s locally grown and FSC Certified. Once you’ve finished with it, look into getting it collected to be re-used for chippings or hedging. Local councils and charities often provide tree collection and disposal services. Take a look at Recycle Now or do a quick Google search.
If you want to go for the most eco-friendly option, buy a potted Christmas tree that can live and grow in your garden then be brought in and decorated each year. For more information on how to care for your tree, visit RHS. Another alternative is to hire a real tree - this is becoming more popular and a number of independent companies such as Rooted now offer it as a more sustainable option.
2. Christmas Decorations
I have fond memories of hanging the same little decorations on our Christmas tree year after year - it’s sentimental and reusing is always great. If you’re after some new decorations, go with glass or locally made FSC Certified wooden ones which have better eco credentials than plastic. Or get crafty and have a go at making your own - whether it’s salt dough hangers, popcorn and cranberry bunting or paper chains, you’ll be proud of your creations and they’ll look great.
3. Advent Calendar
There are loads of options for plastic free, re-usable advent calendars. They can look really great, and it’s exciting when you get them out of the dusty Christmas box each year. From wooden to fabric, there are lots to choose from. For maximum sustainability points, avoid individually wrapped treats when filling your calendar - there are lots of ideas for plastic free fillers online, like here at Etsy.
4. Christmas Cards
Although some people opt for e-cards or instead, donate to charity, it’s estimated that on average, close to 1 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in the UK. That’s a lot of card and a lot of trees.
I’ll be honest, I like receiving a card in the post and for some people, it’s a really special gift. If you’re looking for greeting cards that are more sustainable, buy ones that are made in the UK and use recycled or FSC Certified card. We offer a range of gorgeous eco-friendly gift cards in our online store.
Avoid plastic packaged cards and those with glitter and foil because they can’t be recycled. Making your own cards is a great way of using up any paper and tissue scraps you have hanging around and give a truly personal touch.
The FSC have more tips and advice available on their website.
5. Christmas Gifts
It’s easy to get carried away and buy stacks of gifts, because you lose track of what you’ve bought or just feel like you should. It’s much better for your bank balance and for the environment to have a go at responsible gifting.
Buy only what you can afford and what you think someone will really enjoy. Gifts that are locally made, plastic-free, zero-waste or reusable are more sustainable than those that are heavily packaged and transported from overseas. It’s also great to buy second hand.
You can find a variety of eco-friendly gifts in our online store.
6. Gift Wrapping
Defra has previously estimated that 83 Sq Km of wrapping paper ends up in the bin over the festive season in the UK. That’s enough to wrap up Guernsey and more. So, what can you do? Buy recycled or FSC Certified gift wrap that’s free from glitter and foil, go steady on the paper when wrapping and re-use paper where you can.
But what about the tape? Traditional sticky tapes are made from soft plastic so stay around forever and can’t be recycled. Sellotape now offer a 0% plastic version made from cellulose and there are many retailers selling plastic free, brown paper tape. It’s a sustainable alternative and can be recycled with your wrapping paper.
Instead of buying that extra roll of wrapping paper this year, try wrapping in fabric - a tradition in Japan (Furoshiki) and Korea (Bojagi). It’s a great way to re-use pieces of fabric, old pillow cases, or purpose-made cotton gift bags again and again. Check out our collection of cotton gift bags.
7. Glitter and Foil
We all love a bit of glitter and sparkle but once it’s in the environment, it’s not going anywhere because it’s a polluting micro-plastic. So, avoid buying anything with glitter or shiny foil as it‘ll contaminate your recycling bin.
All is not lost though, there are a number of retailers selling brands such as bio-glitter that are created from cellulose, so you can still enjoy a little bit of sparkle!
8. Food and Drink
It’s natural to over-indulge at Christmas - the shops are filled to the brim with tasty treats and we want to be fully stocked for when family and friends pop in.
If you're looking to reduce the carbon footprint of your food and drink this year, have a go at buying local and buying less. We waste an eye-watering amount of food over Christmas so get meal-planning and make sure any left-overs make it to the freezer. For more tips and tasty recipes, head over to love food hate waste.
Who doesn’t enjoy treating themselves to a new outfit, and Christmas is prime time with parties galore.
The clothing industry though has a huge environmental footprint so here’s how you can shop greener: buy second-hand from a charity shop or second hand online store, see what’s lurking in the back of your wardrobe - you may already have the perfect outfit (according to Wrap, the average UK household has nearly a third of clothes that haven’t been worn in the last year), or if that's not for you, try a sustainable clothing company such as Albaray.
10. What really matters
Don’t lose sight of what really matters to you at Christmas. Snuggling up to watch a favourite Christmas film, enjoying a sing-a-long to some classic Christmas tunes, spending time with family and friends. It’s the small things that matter the most.