Stay kind to the planet over the festive period
Christmas isn’t complete without a tree, and there are several eco-conscious options available. Artificial Christmas trees are often produced in South Korea, China or Taiwan, leading to a large carbon footprint; plus, they’re not recyclable. However, if you can’t have a real tree, artificial alternatives can be reused every year, making them financially better, too.
Real trees are the best option, but make sure you get a tree that is FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council). When you’re done, remember to recycle it at your local municipal or recycling centre. Real trees help the biodiversity of the area surrounding them, and often Christmas tree farms are local, too. Therefore, there will be less carbon emissions used on transporting your tree. The trees are often shredded and used for mulch in public green spaces, so dispose of yours properly. Otherwise, invest in a potted Christmas tree and care for it throughout the year to use again. A potted tree can save money, help the environment and you’ll get the benefits of having a real tree
With copious amounts of Christmas food in shops, it’s important to only buy what you need. Food waste is at its highest at this time of year — 35 per cent of people in the UK admit to wasting more food at Christmas than any other time of year. A survey from Unilever found that 4.2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the UK, in 2015. With each host spending an average of £112 on the big festive shop, this adds up to £64 million spent on food alone each Christmas. People often cook more than necessary because they’re worried about not preparing enough food for their guests. But, think about the portion each guest will have, and buy accordingly. For any leftovers, check out recipes online with the ingredients you have to limit the amount of food that may go to waste.
If you find yourself with leftover unprepared veg, freeze it for a later date. For quick roast potatoes, parboil a batch, coat them in oil and then freeze, and roast them straight from the freezer. You could also combine leftover sprouts with potatoes to make bubble and squeak.
To further reduce your carbon footprint, plan ahead and grow your own vegetables next summer, so they’re ready for the festive season. If you don’t have access to an allotment or a garden, use large pots to grow potatoes and carrots. This will also help you save some money in the lead up to Christmas.
Another great way to have a more eco-friendly Christmas is by having a vegan festive meal. By doing this, not only are you accommodating to any guests following a plant-based diet, but drastically cutting your carbon emissions. One kilogram of beef or lamb causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York. Comparably, 20 servings of vegetables reportedly incurs less emissions than a single serving of beef.
Mass produced Christmas decorations are mostly made with plastic, so why not return to more traditional décor? You could make edible decorations, stitch stockings from recycled material, or use dried fruit peel and pine cones for a nature-inspired decorations. Search for local craftspeople in your area that make wreaths, ceramic or glass decorations to avoid plastic tinsel and other unrecyclable materials.
Ribbon makes a great alternative to tinsel to wrap around the tree, and you can avoid thread-bare tinsel and finding plastic strands around the house. Try out festive crafts for unique decorations, which also make great gifts. Knitting, crocheting or sewing decorations is another great way to make bespoke and long lasting decorations.
Opt for LED fairy lights — not only do they save energy, they also last longer than lights with replaceable bulbs. Ensure you switch them off when you’re not at home, or invest in a timer.
With Christmas presents to go shopping for, and parties to attend, try and lift share with friends and family, to reduce your carbon footprint. If you are ordering multiple presents from the same place, get them delivered in one bulk order, or get as much of your shopping done in one day — this means you can avoid the busy high streets full of Christmas shoppers, too!
Receiving a Christmas card is a festive tradition that dates back to the 1860s. But, with the postal services relying on vans to deliver post, the amount of cards being sent requires more trips (and more carbon emissions). If people live within walking distance or nearby, walk to their house to deliver cards by hand. For friends or relatives who live further away, you could send them an e-card to cut out postal delivery.