It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family, friends, cleaning mud off your hiking boots (so much mud) and cosying up on the sofa. Here’s our 12 step guide to enjoying the festivities whilst protecting the environment.
Day one: Rent a Christmas tree
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a rented Christmas fir tree! We’ll work on that one. Moving on, real Christmas trees are more eco-friendly than artificial ones. It’s estimated you would have to use the same artificial tree for twenty years for it to be a greener alternative. However, when Christmas is over, there’s still the issue of what to do with your old tree, and it’s thought that in the UK alone around 7 million Christmas trees up end up in landfills each year.
You could send it off to be recycled into wood chippings or, even better, make your tree a rental so you can send it back to be replanted and used again next year. JustEcosia around (more trees!) and see what’s in your area. Also, to ensure it's grown sustainably, look for either the FSC or Soil Association logo.
Day two: Eco-friendly decorations
Now you have rented a tree it’s time to add some decorations. If you have some time-honoured favourites then it’s always better to re-use, but if you feel like changing it up then you could try making your own. You’ll be surprised at what you can use, from old clothes to orange peels to old notebooks (ourstone paper ones included).
When it comes to lights, LEDs offer great cost and CO2 savings.
Day three: Buying gifts
Christmas is a time for giving but, let’s face it, most of us probably don’t need more things and, ultimately, we’ll pay the price for our overconsumption. Rather than buying something that may end up being unused or in a landfill, perhaps consider an eco-gift like a tree or Greenpeace subscription. If buying something physical, then opt for something considered and produced sustainably.
Day four: Sending cards
Grandparents must set the record for the amount of Christmas cards sent and received and, granted, it is a nice gesture. If buying and sending cards, check to make sure they’re made from recycled paper and plastic-free. Things to avoid are glitter and foil. Or, alternatively, you could opt for a paperless e-card to save on trees, waste and emissions.
Day five: Giftwrapping! Use newspaper and string or cloth to wrap presents
There are very few things more satisfying than a perfectly wrapped gift, but did you know a lot of wrapping paper is plastic-based, and using a lot of Sellotape makes it difficult to recycle?
Using recycled wrapping paper or old newspapers, and tying with string, means that the paper can be recycled again. Top tip: to check if the paper you’re using is recyclable, scrunch your paper into a ball and, if it remains scrunched, that means it can be recycled. But, even still, paper can only be recycled 6-7 times, so why not try switching to cloth? Good candidates are scarves but anything can be used, here are some ideas and tips.
Brown wrapping paper tied with string
Day six: Food, glorious food
It’s probably fair to say one of the things most of us look forward to over the festive period is the food. The traditional fare changes depending on where you live (at A Good Company we can count turkey, ham, goose and beef) but normally meat is involved. If you’re opting for meat then show some respect and go for something local, organic, and has had a nice life. Or, as meat production is environmentally intensive, why not try veggie or vegan alternatives?
Delicious, and less carbon intensive, alternatives include nut roast, roasted cauliflower and butternut squash. Here’s a mouthwatering list from Olive Magazine.
Roasted cauliflower, mmmmm!
Day seven: Reusable advent calendar
You’re never too old for an advent calendar, with perhaps the only difference being a marginal increase in self-control! But buying and disposing of a new calendar every year is unnecessarily wasteful, especially when it’s just as easy to buy, or make, a reusable calendar that can be filled with your favourite chocolate, sweets or messages.
Day eight: Taking reusable bags shopping
You’re probably going to be making a few, potentially very last minute, visits to the shops to buy food etc. To reduce plastic waste, lower your carbon footprint and save some money, take reusable bags.
Day nine: Switch to a green energy supplier
Winter is coming! For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. We’ll all be using more energy to heat and light our homes, so why not look into switching to a renewable energy supplier? It’s one of the most effective ways to lower your carbon footprint. Fun fact: Santa was green before he was red.
Day ten: Take a walk
Transportation is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions so, if venturing out, opt to walk, cycle or take public transport (COVID permitting). It can be cold but, as any weathered parent will happily tell you, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!” Plus there’s something especially magical about a winter walk, let us know your favourites!
Winter shopping run, hopefully a reused bag too!
Day eleven: Minimising waste
With all the increased activity, you’ll probably find that your output of empty bottles, packaging and food leftovers is more than usual over Christmas. The bottles and packaging can be recycled, and don’t let the food go to waste either! Anything that can’t be eaten by humans can be turned it into delicious compost to feed your houseplants or garden when the spring comes around again. Check out our guide to composting with the Eden Project’s Catherine Cutler.
Day twelve: Not over-buying
It can be easy to get a little carried away over the festive period and buy too much of, well, everything. Whilst it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while, still take some time to consider whether you really need something before purchasing i.e. be a conscious consumer. This is especially true when resisting the temptation of the January sales.
We’re dreaming of an eco-Christmas! OK, we’ll stop now. Merry Christmas!