Christmas is typically a time of excess and consumption, and while we all love to indulge at the most wonderful time of the year, it can leave us feeling less than wonderful. With a few simple, mindful decisions, Christmas can be less stressful, less impactful on the planet and even more joyful.
Here are 5 ways to have a more ethical and sustainable Christmas this year.
Find a Sustainable Christmas Tree
When it comes to buying a Christmas tree, the most sustainable thing you can use is what you already own, so if you’ve had an artificial tree for a number of years, keep using it! Some sources estimate that you need to use an artificial tree for at least 10 years for it to be as sustainable as a real tree. If you’re in the market for a new tree and you want to go down the artificial route, then try buying second hand first, or failing that, look for a tree that will stand the test of time and last you a decade or more.
If you’re looking for a real tree, then one of the best ways to source your tree is to rent it. There is an increasing number of companies that will deliver you a pot-grown tree in time for Christmas and collect it when you’re done. The tree will live a happy life mid-year helping to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, and you won’t need to worry about keeping it alive!
Although rental companies are increasing, there may not be one local to you. In this case, if you’re buying a real tree that’s been felled, look for one that’s come from sustainable sources (where more trees are planted in place of the felled ones) and make sure you recycle it come January. Lots of councils now offer kerbside collection for Christmas trees, as do some large supermarkets, so recycling can be very straightforward.
One of the best ways to keep Christmas simple and sustainable is to simply buy less. You might be surprised by how happy children are to receive fewer presents. A couple of well-chosen gifts can create as much magic and excitement on Christmas day as a pile of things they’ll forget by the end of the week.
You can even think outside the box and buy experiences rather than things. For children, write a fun (recyclable!) coupon promising a trip to the zoo or the aquarium, and for adults, a spa trip or an offer to pay for dinner will be more than welcome. You’ll be creating memories that last in a way that stuff often doesn’t!
Buy Second Hand
When you’re buying lots of gifts for friends and family, you can wind up spending a lot of money and time on things that may not be enjoyed for long. However, when it comes to certain gifts, what was once considered a faux pas is fast becoming a welcome way to save money and the planet. Instead of splurging on new toys, books and clothes, try looking second hand first.
Second hand sites like Vinted, Facebook Marketplace and eBay are full of options for all kinds of people, and if you need more suggestions for second hand clothes, you can take a look here for some ideas! Most of the people you are buying for will barely notice the difference between new and preloved, especially children. And by avoiding buying new, you’ll be keeping more stuff out of landfill.
Buying second hand doesn’t have to stop at gifts either. When you’re shopping for Christmas decor it’s worth checking out your local charity shop first, especially if you’re looking for the more common items like baubles or tinsel.
Support Small Businesses
If you do choose to buy new, supporting small local businesses is one of the best ways to keep your buying sustainable and ethical. Sourcing from small shops takes a little longer, but the rewards are great. Not only are you likely to find something more unique and special, but you’re more likely to be able to understand where the item has come from, thus avoiding any of the typical ethical pitfalls of shopping with large corporations.
Shopping locally may even come with a lower carbon footprint, since your items won’t have travelled as far. Nowhere is this more true than for food. Instead of defaulting to the supermarket, try a local farm shop or cooperative to source delicious food that’s not had to travel the world to reach your Christmas table.
Rethink Gift Wrapping
One of the main aspects of Christmas festivities is the gift wrap, but sadly lots of the options out there are difficult (or even impossible) to recycle. Making a simple swap from glittery or plastic coated wrap to recycled paper is an easy and impactful way to make Christmas more sustainable.
If you’re feeling even more creative, you could try using reusable items as gift wrap. While you can buy reusable gift wrap, why not try wrapping gifts in a vintage scarf or a linen bag?
If you don’t mind a more rustic look, then you can even reuse gift wrap from previous years, or tissue paper from packaging you’re received through the year. Getting a little crafty with stamps or paint can turn a simple piece of old paper into something quite special! And when you’re done, don’t forget to fold it away for next year or recycle.
How about giving a sustainable gift this year. Check out our Christmas & winter collection here