Five Tips for a Sustainable Christmas

Give a gift to the planet this Christmas

Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year, but it can also be the season of waste, if we’re not careful. In the UK we produce 30% more waste than usual over the festive period. The numbers are staggering - 1 billion cards sent, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, 6 million Christmas trees thrown away and 17.2 million sprouts wasted.

So at a time where we might all tend to create a little more waste, here are some tips to help you be more sustainable and give a gift to the planet this Christmas.

1. Source a sustainable Christmas tree and dispose of it responsibly

Whether you buy real or prefer the artificial, there are some small things you can do to be more environmentally friendly.

  • If you decide on a real tree, look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to confirm that the tree has been sourced sustainably.   

  • Recycle your real Christmas tree after use. If Veolia is your Local Authority’s waste provider, there might be a free recycling service available to you, where we’ll turn your tree into soil-improving fertiliser, possibly helping new Christmas trees grow ready for next year!

  • If artificial is your way, consider browsing second-hand websites for a pre-loved tree, and if you choose to buy new, look after it by packing it away carefully so it can be used for years.

2. Go green with your decorations

Decorations are often the most special part about Christmas, but they can be made even more so when they are sustainable sourced or made by the people you love.

  • Look for decorations made from recycled materials. Or get creative and make your own decorations, from wood, fabric and glass, including your own Christmas wreath. Keep in mind that tinsel and glitter can’t be recycled. 

  • Incorporate winter foliage, pine cones and evergreen branches into your festive decorations. Now is a perfect time to collect them!

3. Buy with meaning

Each year, the UK spends around £700 million on unwanted presents. Avoid getting the same old socks and cut the wastage:

  • A Secret Santa allows you to invest in a single, carefully considered gift rather than a number of smaller gifts which may (unfortunately) be discarded. 

  • Opt for gift experiences over physical presents. Whether its a trip to the theatre, a football match or something more adventurous, experiences tend to be more memorable whilst producing less waste.

  • Search your local charity shop, vintage boutique or antique store. Buying second hand is a growing trend that we can extend to the festive season. Not only will this give a second life to pre-loved items, it might save you some money.

  • Donate any unwanted gifts to charity rather than throwing them away. 

4. Choose the right wrapping paper

The UK gets through over 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year (enough to stretch all the way to the moon!).

Opt for something that can be recycled or reused:

  • Keep it simple with brown paper , newspaper or old paper maps.

  • For a seasonal finishing touch, spruce up with pine tree sprigs or fallen leaves.

  • Check your wrapping paper is recyclable by taking the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper into a ball and let go - if the paper stays scrunched then it can be recycled.

5. Plan your Christmas dinner carefully

An estimated 4.2 million Christmas dinners are wasted across the UK. 

To cut back on the wasted sprouts:

  • Make (and adhere to) a shopping list to avoid panic buying and the waste it incurs.

  • Make full use of the leftovers. Any leftover meat can be delicious in a curry or simple sandwich, and why not re-fry roast potatoes to give them an extra bit of crunch. 

  • Donate spare ingredients or meals to your nearest food bank or community fridge, or share excess food with your neighbours with the OLIO app - which aims to connect those with surplus food to those who need it. 

  • Try to buy your vegetables loose to reduce packaging, or look into ordering a veg box to get plastic-packaging-free veggies delivered to your door.