We all try our best to be shop sustainably and be eco-friendly when we can, but sometimes that can be a bit harder over the Christmas holidays. Hannah has a few simple ideas that might make your Christmas this year a little bit greener.
We all try our best to be shop sustainably and be eco-friendly when we can, but sometimes that can be a bit harder over the Christmas holidays. We have a few simple ideas that might make your Christmas this year a little bit greener.
Buy experiences for people instead of physical things. There will always be something to love, no matter who you’re buying it for! Whether it’s skydiving or an afternoon tea, this option is both thoughtful and completely waste-free.
Make something yourself. Maybe you’re good at jewellery-making, pottery, or painting? If you have a creative hobby, Christmas is a great time to show people how much you care. Although we’d recommend getting started on knitting that jumper a few months early…
Buy from sustainable stores. Even if you aren’t a fan of homemade presents, there are some great alternatives to buying from big brands that produce a lot of waste (and may not be the most ethical to boot). Here’s a handy list of some of the best online environmentally-friendly stores in the UK, and when in doubt – shop from and support small local businesses!
Something you would think would be recyclable, right? Well, as always, it’s more complicated than you would think. Some wrapping paper will contain plastics or foil and can’t be recycled. A good way to check is to do the scrunch test - if it stays scrunched up, it’s made of paper and can go in the recycling bin. Unless it happens to have glitter on it - unfortunately glitter is non-recyclable (unless it specifically says otherwise) and anything containing it must go in general waste.
Either way, re-using wrapping paper and gift bags from last year when possible is a good way to cut down on waste – especially when it isn’t recyclable otherwise. And if you aren’t too sentimental, you can re-use Christmas cards by cutting the front picture off and turning them into gift tags.
Furoshiki wrapping: A more unique way of wrapping gifts that is becoming a lot more popular. Traditionally, you would buy specific furoshiki silk or cotton cloth for this, and there are some good sustainable sources for it – however, they’re a bit pricey. Honestly any scarves, bandanas, or similar cloth you have lying around will work just as well. All that really matters is that it isn’t see-through, and that it’s big enough to wrap whatever the gift may be. You can also find some nice scarves in charity shops for next to nothing, and it means the recipient gets another gift!
As we can all agree, the family ornaments that have been made and passed down over the years - a wonky lolly stick star here, a questionable felt snowman there - are the best kind! They might not be the prettiest, but they are the most sustainable, and no bought ornaments will have the same memories.
However, if you do want to add some more classy ornaments in the mix too, we would generally recommend going for ornaments made of long-lasting materials like wood and brass. There are also plenty of companies like Vera Bee selling upcycled, ethically sourced ornaments that aren’t too expensive – but are still beautiful.
You could also consider making some easy sugar cookie ornaments, or other baked good ornaments of your choice to go up on the tree – although we can’t guarantee they’ll last until boxing day!
And last but not least, tinsel: another decoration that cannot be recycled. There are a lot of fantastic alternatives to buying plastic tinsel, many of which the entire family can get involved with. Paper chains, ribbons, and garlands galore! You can go for the classic popcorn garlands with cranberries and dried fruit, holly from outside, pom poms, beads… if you can put it on a string or ribbon, it can go up on the tree.
The Christmas tree
We know, this one can be a bit tricky. Artificial plastic Christmas trees are impossible to recycle, and while real Christmas trees are more eco-friendly, they’re also more expensive - not to mention difficult to get home if you don’t have a car. So, here are some other potential options for you.
This year there are more wooden Christmas tree options than ever before. Modern laser-cut plywood trees, recycled pallet trees, rustic reclaimed wood trees… you name it! Pinterest has some great ideas here if you want to try making it yourself, but for the less craft-inclined among us you can also buy them ready made on Etsy.
If none of these options work for you, buying an artificial tree second-hand is nothing to be ashamed about – at least it won’t be going in a landfill! If you do end up getting a real Christmas tree, make sure to check here and see if there are drop-off points in your area. Often local councils will organise these in January so that real trees can be turned into wood chippings for parks, trails, etc.
We hope some of these ideas will help you make some of the small changes that will end up having a big impact this Christmas, and on all the ones after!