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Tis the Season to be Sustainable

I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas, so let’s make this the Last Christmas we produce 30% more waste than usual, otherwise Baby, It’ll Be Way Too Hot Outside. Rock Around The Reusable Christmas Tree and don’t let your festive food (Jingle Bell) Rot with these 12 Tips of Christmas!


  • According to the waste management company Biffa, 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million sprouts are binned each Christmas. Reduce food waste by only cooking what you need and freezing the rest as leftovers.
  • Donating extra food to a local food bank or soup kitchen is also a great way to reduce food waste and help with poverty in the local community.
  • Buy as locally as is possible and economically-viable to reduce the carbon footprint of the food and maybe reduce that second meat portion for an extra plate of carrots and potatoes. After all, the Soil Association argues ‘food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact’.


  • Instead of Christmas crackers which you will likely throw out, buy tissue paper hats (you can get these on Amazon) and make up or research jokes for each other. They might even be funny! If you miss the excitement of pulling the cracker make your own. There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing how to make them out of card from an old cereal box and cracker snaps (also available cheaply on Amazon).


  • In the UK, fresh trees are usually the more eco-friendly choice, if they are grown from a sustainable source. Look for the FSC certification logo or Soil Association organic certification and buy as locally as possible.
  • Some organisations are offering tree rental now, such as garden centres, which would mean the trees would not be thrown out after use!
  • If these aren’t accessible, go for a reusable tree (if you don’t have one already), made locally if possible, that is small enough to be stored and used for as many years as possible; most plastic trees need to be used for at least nine years to be as environmental as natural trees. Local charity shops may be reselling ones you could buy or donate to if you cannot store your own.


  • LED lights are the most energy-saving so will save power lighting up your Christmas tree. Another way to save energy is to just be mindful of when and for how long your lights are on for. While light decorations can be warming during the long nights, maybe you could savour the spectacle for Christmas eve or Christmas day.
  • Obviously, reuse decorations and if some are broken or lost you could even make some out of recyclables.


  • As much as possible, celebrate locally to reduce air travel. You could share shopping trips with friends and family to make car travel greener and cheaper or use public transport. Shop online together with family members on the same websites (without peeking at their shopping basket!) to get bulk deliveries.


  • We’re all guilty of buying random gifts last minute that we probably know the person won’t use. According to the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association, an estimated 20% of gifts head to in landfill on Boxing Day. Be thoughtful about what you’re buying and if you’re not sure what to buy (what on earth do you give your dad?) buy them a voucher for a shop they like or donate to a charity for them. I bought all my presents second-hand this year, making them much cheaper too!
  • Don’t use wrapping paper! Old newspapers or magazines can be used to wrap presents so attractively and can even be used to personalise the gift. Go one step further and tie the presents with string or ribbon instead of using tape to make your wrapping completely plastic-free.

Photo credit: Susanne Nilsson

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