Christmas is a time of indulgence and frivolity for many – even more so after festivities were cancelled last year, meaning many are keen to go bigger than ever for the 2022 festive season. But, given the climate change emergency we are facing, it would be a tragedy for the nation to gear up for a festive season full of waste and excess. Instead, we offer some top tips on how to have a more eco-friendly Christmas without scrimping on the fun and festivities.
1. Get a greener tree
Cutting down real trees doesn’t exactly smack of planet-friendly behaviour either, although it is worth noting that farmed firs from sustainable operations are replanted and absorb a good amount of carbon from the air whilst they are growing. If you buy a cut tree, make sure you source as local as possible and look for those approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Real trees can also be recycled, so don’t send them to landfill, where they will end up creating harmful methane gas. Look out for local collections.
Other alternatives are having a living potted tree that you keep and re-use every year, moving it out into a safe spot in the garden after Christmas. It will become like one of the family and you can watch it grow over the years. Or, the latest initiative is to rent a living tree, so you don’t have to worry about taking care of it year round.
The general consensus is that a real tree is always better for the environment than an artificial plastic one but it isn’t quite so straightforward. The last thing the planet needs is more plastic, so we don’t advise you rush out to buy a new fake fir. However, studies have found that, if a household re-uses an artificial tree for 10 years, it actually has a smaller carbon footprint than a household that buys a real cut tree every year.
There are some new artificial trees on the market now that have been made from recycled plastic, which is certainly a more preferable option but, remember, fake trees are made from mixed materials and can’t be recycled, so they inevitably end up in landfill. So, if you are getting rid of yours and it is good condition, consider donating the tree to a charity shop for display purposes or resale.
2. Get creative with your wrapping
Brits throw away the equivalent 108 million rolls of wrapping paper every year at Christmas – many of which will feature glossy designs, glitter motifs and shiny finishes, that make them non-recyclable. This year, why not source paper you know will find a welcome home in your recycling bin, or even get creative and make your own personalised wrap using brown Kraft paper or fabric adorned with stencilled or stamped designs, twine, sprigs of pine, berries, or dried fruit slices. Use your imagination to create something completely unique, giving a personal touch to your gifts.
3. Reduce food waste
Waistline-busting meals are always on the menu at Christmas but, whilst over catering for our guests might seem the polite thing to do, it inevitably results in tonnes of food waste over the holiday season. With a few simple changes, you can reduce the bags of rubbish lined up outside your house this year but still keep tummies full. Firstly, work out your portions before the big day, so you don’t end up buying more than you need. Let your guests serve themselves rather than plating up for everyone – that way people will only take what they think they can eat (if their eyes are bigger than their stomach, that’s their fault!).
Another top tip is to eat the food in your freezer in the lead up to the big day, leaving plenty of space for leftovers. Any remaining turkey and ham can then be sliced, wrapped in parchment and frozen. Believe it or not, you can even freeze leftover stilton and save it to use in a host of warming winter dishes, such as stilton & bacon gratin, mac & cheese, and broccoli & stilton soup. If you still end up with tasty morsels that need a good home, then download a foodsharing app, like Olio, which connects people with surplus food to neighbours in need.
4. Say no to single-use crackers
We can all picture the scene: Boxing Day morning, dining tables littered with cheap plastic cracker toys – from ‘magic fish’ and the little jumping frog thing, to keyrings and novelty rings or ‘clip on’ moustaches. You’re usually still finding the junk fillers on the floor or down the back of sofas for days afterwards but no one ever takes them home and they all end up being chucked away. However, there are plenty of greener alternatives, including re-usable or DIY crackers, which you can fill with a thoughtful gift you know your guest will love; glitter-free recycled crackers, complete with wooden Christmas tree decoration; and a host of recyclable options filled with eco-friendly gifts, ranging from a trivia card, to a wooden honey stirrer or mini pot of jam. Check out Country Living’s rundown of cleaner Christmas crackers for more inspiration.
5. Choose greener products
With everything else taken care of, make sure you’re sitting pretty on a set of sustainable furniture to host your eco-friendly Christmas. LifestyleGarden® offers a wide range of responsibly-made indoor and outdoor furniture, constructed from FSC hardwood and an array of recycled materials. The striking Nassau collection boasts a stylish six-seater dining set, which can be taken apart and fully recycled, with zero waste or damage to the environment, at the end of its life.