Make this Christmas greener: ways to be kinder to the planet over the festive season.
Did you know that Christmas is considered ‘the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster’? According to Business Leader, we use 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging for gifts, with 794,000kg of CO2 being emitted during the production of wrapping paper alone, not to mention the impact of wasted wrapping paper.
It’s fair to say that Attenborough wouldn’t approve of the continuation of our current festive habits. However, it’s not yet too late for change. Having an environmentally friendly Christmas is so easy with a spoonful of swaps and a pinch of creativity.
Conventional Christmas gifts are wrapped in layers of plastic and often discarded after Christmas, with a whopping 40% of children’s toys being thrown away by March every year! It’s so important to make sure that the gifts you’re giving this year also give back to the environment. How about baking festive treats for someone? These can be stored in a glass jar with decorative twine and a homemade paper label – gift packaging that can be reused for years to come. Or buy experiences for those people who are usually so hard to buy for. These could include restaurant vouchers, concert tickets or even a session at a trampolining centre for the kids (that the adults can also join in with). Eco-friendly gifts like a metal water bottle or a keep-cup are great for their long-term impact on the environment.
For any other green gift ideas check out some amazing UK sites like The Ethical Superstore, The Green Tulip and Plastic Freedom, which stock everything from organic clothing to gorgeous wooden and metal decorations.
Speaking of decorations, keep an eye out for items to display around the house during the festive season when you’re on your next winter walk. Evergreen branches, flowers, holly leaves and berries and even dried oranges and cinnamon sticks will make your home feel and smell festive! Decorate the Christmas tree with pinecones on ribbons, punch a hole in polaroid pictures of you and your friends to hang on a branch, or make homemade decorations as a house, or with younger siblings at home.
This year, my housemates and I have set ourselves a challenge to decorate the Christmas tree with unconventional decorations that we can find around the house. As well as having a laugh together it also makes the decorations personal, rather than the usual red and gold plastic baubles that everyone and their Gran has.
Make sure you have the best looking presents this year with the new and greener way to wrap gifts that has become so popular in the last few years. Using brown paper, old newspaper or even cutting up and using the paper shopping bag that you bought the presents in can make your wrapping look rustic and chic, as well as being great for the planet. Get some inspiration on Pinterest and switch up your wrapping with strips of waste-paper, fabric ribbons and decorative flowers and branches. Learn a new skill with the style of Japanese wrapping, Furoshiki: the art of wrapping gifts in a bundle of fabric.
Send a virtual video message to your loved ones this year to save on wasted card and paper, or go for another green alternative with seed paper cards. Seed paper can be planted in soil and watered to grow beautiful wildflowers. Not On The High Street are currently selling their eco-friendly seed paper cards in the style of woodland creatures. Each card comes with a little paper hedgehog, squirrel or other animal for the receiver to plant, and it’s only 95p to deliver them anywhere within the UK!
Enjoy an ethical and sustainable Christmas dinner this December with some delicious vegan food. M&S’ vegan Christmas range is unbeatable this year with ‘No-Chorizo pigs in duvets’, their Plant Kitchen butternut, almond and pecan nut roast, and their vegan chocolate torte or sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Other Christmas classics are also very easily made vegan, such as Christmas pudding, roast veg, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Check out vegan chef Gaz Oakley’s “Vegan Christmas” cookbook and the Vegan Food & Living Magazine Christmas edition – subscribe for a year and receive a £30 voucher for the Vegan Kind Supermarket!
If you want the smell of pine needles in the house this Christmas and don’t fancy buying a fake tree (which would have to be used for at least 20 years before it is classed as a greener option) please dispose of your tree wisely once the festive season is over. Residents from LS6 postcodes and 9 other postcodes can book to have their tree collected from the door between 7th and 11th January 2021. Simply visit events.st-gemma.co.uk and choose ‘Christmas Tree Collection’. Alternatively, there are eight different recycling centres in Leeds that accept Christmas trees, including Kirkstall and Meanwood Recycling Centres.
There are also services outside of Leeds that rent out and then replant the trees! Do some research to see if your family could use this service, or for anyone from the Leicester, Coventry and Nottingham areas you can use www.loveachristmastree.co.uk.
Don’t want the hassle of messy pine leaves but don’t want to support a business selling trees of plastic? Purchase a fake tree that you can reuse for many years to come on Gumtree or from a local charity shop. Or if you and your house see no point in getting a tree for the 3 weeks before you all go home for Christmas, decorate your house plant that has been sitting there bare for 11 months of the year!
Have a greener Christmas this year by being kinder to the planet and your conscience. Whether it’s taking up a new hobby in Furoshiki, having a browse on The Ethical Superstore, or sending cards that can be planted to make wildflowers, make sure you enjoy Christmas this year and send joy to the world!