Did you know the amount of waste generated in the UK increases by around 30% over the festive period? While it’s the season for joy and giving, being more mindful about how you celebrate Christmas this year could help you enjoy a more sustainable celebration.
If you want to reduce the environmental impact your family has this year, without compromising on fun, here are five practical tips you could implement.
1. Switch to digital or sustainable cards
The government estimates more than 1 billion Christmas cards are sent every year, only to be thrown away – it takes the equivalent of 33 million trees to make this amount of cards. So, not only is sending cards creating more waste, but it could lead to far fewer trees too.
Sending out digital cards could be a simple way to reduce your environmental impact this year. There are plenty of different options online, many of which you can add a personal touch to so they remain thoughtful.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about it not arriving in time due to postal delays.
If you enjoy sending cards and displaying them, there are ways to make them more sustainable. Choosing a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) card means the product comes from a well-managed and sustainable forest and is recyclable.
2. Be conscious of the gifts you’re giving
A YouGov poll found that the average Brit spent more than £600 on Christmas in 2022. The biggest expense was presents and gifts, totalling £300 each.
Handing over a present you know the recipient will love is part of what makes Christmas so special, but it can lead to waste, especially if you’re unsure what to buy someone.
According to the Guardian, half a billion cheap electrical items go to UK landfills every year. So, this year, before you buy a gift, spend some time considering if it’s something the recipient will really value or use.
If they don’t want specific items, gifting an experience could be a great way to make their day without adding more waste. Whether you buy them a spa day to relax or an adrenaline-fuelled adventure, it’s a great way to help them create memories too.
3. Choose a real Christmas tree
If you already have an artificial Christmas tree that’s in good condition, don’t throw it away to buy a more sustainable option. But, if you’re looking to refresh your home’s decorations this year, selecting a real Christmas tree could support the environment.
Check the farm you’re buying from grows the trees responsibly and plants for future generations to maximise your positive impact. Better yet, some farms will take your tree back at the end of the festive period and replant it so you can pick it up for next year’s celebrations.
Don’t forget about your other festive decorations either. Simple switches, like opting for LED lights, could shrink your environmental footprint this year.
4. Be mindful of food waste
Indulging in festive treats might be one Christmas tradition you’re looking forward to. Whether the thought of a turkey dinner has your mouth watering or you want to dig into a box of chocolates, you don’t have to give it up.
Yet, being conscious of the food you might end up throwing away over the festive season could be useful.
Last year, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimated that more than 70% of the UK’s total food waste comes from homes, collectively costing families an eye-watering £14 billion a year.
The amount of poultry thrown away in one year could be enough to make 800 million Boxing Day curries, while enough potatoes are binned to make enough roasties for Christmas Day for the whole country for 48 years.
So, when you’re doing your Christmas grocery shop (and your regular shopping), consider what you’ll use and how to make the most out of what you’re buying.
As well as cutting waste, you might also want to purchase local produce. It could be a great way to support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas dinner as it won’t have to travel as far.
5. Give back to your local community
It’s the season for giving, so what better time to support your local community? There are plenty of ways you can help organisations, from giving your time to a financial donation.
You could also make material donations, such as furniture that you’re replacing or unwanted clothing, rather than throwing them away. It could help you clean up your home ready for the new year while benefiting others. The items could go to charity shops to raise much-needed funds for good causes or families that are struggling.