How to be More Eco-Friendly This Christmas
Sustainable living is important all year round, but especially over the Christmas period. The Christmas festivities can produce a lot of waste, from the gifts we send, the decorations we use and the food we eat. Luckily, there are many sustainable swaps and eco-friendly practices we can incorporate and still celebrate the season to the fullest.
If you’re looking for ways to be sustainable this Christmas, read on for our tips and advice.
Eco-friendly Christmas decorations
One of the best ways to be more eco-friendly this Christmas is to use what you already have. So, when it comes to decorating your home for the festive season, stick with the decorations that you already own, rather than buying something new.
However, if your current stock of Christmas decorations is lacking and you want to buy more, there are sustainable ways to do it. Think about the material of the decorations. Try to avoid plastic where possible or look for decorations that are made from recyclable and recycled plastics.
When looking for eco-friendly Christmas decorations, think about where they have come from. Decorations that are made and sold locally will have less impact on the environment than those that have travelled overseas. You could also make your own decorations, from paper and natural materials like pine cones.
You could have a more sustainable Christmas by choosing an eco-friendly advent calendar. Instead of a one-use calendar, buy or make a fabric or wooden calendar that you can fill yourself and reuse every year.
For your Christmas table, use fabric napkins and tablecloths that can be washed and reused, instead of paper. You could also look for sustainable Christmas crackers. Many standard Christmas crackers aren’t recyclable, and they also contain small plastic toys. Instead, look for Christmas crackers made from recyclable materials that contain metal or wooden gifts.
You can even get reusable Christmas crackers that you can fill with your own gifts. This gives you the added benefit of personalising the gifts, so the receiver gets something they’ll really want to keep, rather than something that might end up going to waste.
Eco-friendly Christmas gifts
When buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones, aim for quality over quantity. It’s estimated that over 50% of adults in the UK have received at least one wanted gift every Christmas. These gifts will often go to waste, either being kept but unused or going in the bin.
To avoid this, you could ask your loved ones to send you a wish list of things they would like, that you can pick from. Or you could avoid buying them a material gift altogether and instead buy them an experience that you’ll know they’ll love, such as a day at the spa or a ticket to a show.
When looking for Christmas gifts, consider the packaging that it will be sold in. If you’re shopping locally, look for items that don’t have unnecessary packaging or that are packaged in reusable or recyclable materials.
When you’re shopping online, look for products that state they have minimal or recyclable packaging. Many items in our Leitz Cosy range have plastic-free packaging that can be fully recycled, making the perfect gift for those that are setting up a sustainable home office.
The Christmas tree – real or fake?
There has been much debate over which is the more sustainable option between a real Christmas tree or a fake Christmas tree. Whilst a fake Christmas tree is reusable, there will be resources used to make and ship it.
If you’re buying a fake Christmas tree brand new, you will have to use it for at least 10 years to make it the most sustainable option. You could also look at buying a second-hand Christmas tree from an online marketplace. This means you’ll avoid the negative impact of buying something brand new and could also save something from going to waste.
If you prefer a real Christmas tree, you should ensure it’s FSC-certified. This means it has been grown in a sustainable way in a well-managed forest. You should also consider how you will get rid of the tree after Christmas. Your local council may have a collection service where the tree will be taken away to get turned into wood chips and recycled.
An alternative option is to rent a real Christmas tree. With this choice there will be zero waste – you will look after your tree for the festive season and then it will be returned to the forest and replanted. Look for a local grower to minimise fuel usage for its delivery or collection.
Sustainable Christmas cards
If you’re sending Christmas cards, look for FSC-certified cards that use paper from sustainable forests. These will also be recyclable. Try to avoid cards that have foils or glitter on them, as these won’t be recyclable.
You can also now get biodegradable, plantable cards. These Christmas cards contain seeds, so in the Spring the whole card can be planted and flowers and even vegetables will grow from them.
You could also make your own Christmas cards from arts and crafts items you already have around the house. This can minimise the impact on the environment and also means you can add a more personal touch to your cards.
An alternative to sending a physical card is to send an e-card instead, which will use fewer resources. Or you could skip sending cards altogether and instead make a donation to a charity. This gets rid of all the waste associated with Christmas cards and could be a huge help to a cause that’s special to you.
If you receive Christmas cards, check the material so you know how to properly dispose of them. You might be able to recycle them or put them into compost. If the cards you receive aren’t recyclable, you could keep them to turn into decorations, Christmas postcards, or gift tags next year.
Sustainable gift wrapping
A lot of wrapping paper contains foils or plastic that isn’t recyclable. When you’re wrapping your gifts, aim to use wrapping paper made from paper that can be recycled and is FSC-certified. Remember that glitter and certain fabrics like ribbon, can’t be recycled, so you should try to avoid using this on your gifts, or make sure the ribbons can be reused.
Look for recyclable tape or avoid tape altogether and wrap gifts with the Japanese Furoshiki method. This traditionally uses fabric to wrap items, which can be a more sustainable choice to wrap your gifts.
You can also reuse gift bags and other wrapping materials that you’ve received yourself. Rather than putting gift bags in the bin when you receive them, store them away to use the following Christmas. You can also reuse ribbons and tissue paper from any gifts you’ve received or products you’ve bought throughout the year.
Cut the festive food waste
Food can be one of the biggest contributors to waste around Christmas. Try to realistically plan for how much food you’ll need over the festive period so you can avoid over-buying.
If you have leftovers, get creative with how you can use them and look online for recipe ideas. Avoid wrapping your leftovers in clingfilm. Instead, use Tupperware, mason jars, foil or wax wraps to cover your leftover food and keep them fresh.
When you’re buying your Christmas food, try to buy locally. Look for farmer’s markets that sell locally grown fruit and vegetables and locally sourced meat. This will reduce how many miles your food has had to travel and also usually means there will be less packaging.
If you’re buying food from a supermarket, check where it has come from. If you buy seasonal vegetables, you’re more likely to be able to buy local produce and reduce the impact on the environment. You should also look for certifications such as Fairtrade, RSPO-certified palm oil and MSC-certified seafood, which will all be more sustainable.
Leitz has a range of eco-friendly stationery to help you improve your sustainable living.
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