Not to dampen the holiday cheer, but admittedly you had a hunch that Christmas, as we know it, has a detrimental impact on the environment. The amount of waste churned out by the UK alone is up 30%, and just to really bring it home, consider this: Brits buy an estimated 10 million turkeys, 370 million mince pies and 25 million Christmas puddings. On top, the equivalent of 450,000 double-decker buses will be thrown out.
Also feeling as ashamed as we did writing this article? Then show the environment some love this winter season with these simple hacks:
DIY Christmas decorations serve as an entertaining family pastime over the holidays. Repurpose lightbulbs as baubles, dry your own potpourri, assemble bunting out of Christmas cards or make paper snowflakes. When outdoors, don’t forget to stay on the lookout for pinecones and foliage, which with a little creativity make for great wreaths and decorative components. If you haven’t already done so, switch to LED fairy lights once your old ones lose steam, and make sure any decorative lighting is turned off during the daytime.
Stressing about what to wear to that Christmas party? Ditch the fast-fashion and swap or borrow clothes from family or friends instead. Otherwise, resale sites give clothing a new lease of life and stock the occasional gem too. Either way, not only will you be sparing the environment, but your bank balance will thank you for it as well.
Try your hand at homemade gifts and upcycle unwanted items. Candles, soaps, jams, jewelry, bookmarks, snow globes – the list of possibilities is endless. Where DIY is not an option, try to purchase from local producers and avoid excessive packaging. You may even choose to stop by second-hand or charity shops, and for children’s gifts go old school with high-quality wooden toys. As a gift receiver, why not try to ask for a donation towards a cause you care about.
Drop the embellished wrapping paper (after all it’s the inside that counts, right?). Your best bet will be natural Kraft paper… simple, sophisticated, and best of all recyclable. Top that off with paper tape and natural twine, and you may consider yourself a true eco packing elf. For any gift wrapping where you’re unsure about its recyclability, opt for the scrunch test – if it keeps as a ball, it can be recycled.
A word on Christmas dinner: first, make a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary items on a whim. We’re all prone to it with 7 in 10 people admitting to buying more food than they need. Choose loose, seasonal and local produce where possible. Serve up your feast avoiding disposable cutlery and tableware. Thereafter, leftovers make for a fantastic post-Christmas meal or alternatively, freeze what you can.
Needless to say, recycle as much as possible – check out our guide on recycling here.