Christmas is without a doubt one of our favourite times of year. It’s a real highlight of the year for the crisp nights, the cheeriness, and the way it brings friends and family together. One thing that isn’t thought of so much though is the waste that’s created around the festivities: it’s a lot.
Packaging for example, is one of the biggest issues. According to the GWP Group, UK consumers alone make use of 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year! End to end, the Earth is roughly 24,901 miles. Yes, it’s that much and just from the UK. On top of that, we have 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging (that’s five Statue of Liberty’s) and typically generate 3 million more tonnes of waste at Christmas that fills 100 million bin bags every single year.
However, we can all offset our contributions to waste by being a bit savvier when it comes to Christmas. If enough of us take action, we can drastically reduce the amount of waste each year. Here are some ways we can all reduce the waste we produce and set ourselves on the path to a more environmentally friendly Christmas.
Buy a Real Christmas Tree
A real Christmas tree, being grown in soil, means there are no plastic materials that require fabrication, no factories, no worldwide shipping, and no long-lasting waste components that go into making an artificial tree. Contrast this with real Christmas trees, most are locally grown and sourced, plus, they take about 10 – 12 years to reach 6ft, and during that time they are removing carbon from the atmosphere and providing a home for wildlife. When they are no longer needed, they can be recycled and used for other purposes such as making compost, chipped into mulch, firewood, or a home for wildlife.
Buy Something Pre-Loved
You may be shocked that a large number – close to £50 million worth – of unwanted Christmas gifts are just thrown into landfills each year. To help reduce this, consider buying something nearly new or pre-loved. It helps ensure fewer things end up in landfills and comes with the added bonus that they typically cost less than brand new items. Also consider selling your own unwanted goods so someone else can benefit from them.
Use Recycled Wrapping Paper or Fabric
While we often keep wrapping paper to use for future Christmas’, much of it can’t actually be recycled such as wrapping paper with foil or glitter. Choose instead recycled wrapping paper, which is growing in popularity, and still has the same effect and wonderful Christmas designs. It’s just better for the environment. You can also try wrapping gifts with lovely colour fabrics, which are also growing in popularity and are available in Christmas designs.
Use Good LED Lights
While there are some great LED Christmas lights available, and have been for some time now, many households still use incandescent lights which are nowhere near as energy efficient. They also cost more electricity to run. But when it comes to LED Christmas lights, they use up to 80% less energy. That’s good for the environment and good for your household budget. Take it a bit further and put them on a timer so they’re not running all the time.
Zero Waste Christmas Dinner
To provide a lovely Christmas meal for our families and friends we often buy too much food, people overeat, get stuffed, and what happens is we typically have many leftovers. It’s not deliberate, we just want everyone to have what they want. Plan your menu and requirements in advance to get it just right, and in turn reduce the impact of this waste on the environment.
Give Green Fingered Gifts
When gift giving, why not also give some fantastic green fingered gifts like a flower seed bomb. These are typically easy ways to encourage friends and family to get into gardening because they require so little effort. In turn they’ll be rewarded with colourful blooms that attract wildlife like butterflies and bees into the garden. It’s getting tougher for our wildlife so they’ll appreciate it, and so will the environment generally. Why stop there?
Consider an insect or birdhouse too! And if they’re a bit more experienced in the garden how about some nice new shrubs or spring flowering bulbs? Consider also some indoor houseplants that will last for years and years such as Peace Lily with its lovely white flowers that will brighten any room. The Peace Lily for instance, is also a great natural air purifier and low maintenance plant. There are so many other fantastic indoor houseplants to choose from and we have a great guide for them here.
Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to fully biodegrade. They tend to just sit in a corner until they are binned or eventually taken somewhere to be recycled (if they can be). A significant amount though get put in landfill or are stuck in vegetation in our parks, green areas, and road verges. We can all help by using bags made from recyclable materials that are fully reusable, and stylish too! Gift someone a reusable, sustainable, and stylish shopping bag, that’s fully washable, and will last for years, just not 1000 of them.
Ways to Make Your Christmas More Eco-Friendly
If we all make a contribution each year, we can drastically reduce the impact of Christmas on our precious environment. What of our ideas above could you easily do? Why not incorporate some for Christmas 2021 and build on it for the following year.