What to consider!
It’s the most wonderful – and wasteful – time of year! Though many people agree that the most important thing about this time of year should be spending time with loved ones, Christmas and New Year still comes with a lot of baggage – whether it’s bin bags full of wrapping, unwanted gifts or leftover food! Here are some tips for a greener festive season and beyond.
Whether you’re a reusable plastic trees, wreaths, flowers and mistletoe, it’s worth noting that there is now a third much more sustainable option out there. Farms and smaller local produce shops are encouraging people to rent decorative Christmas trees, which are then replanted and used again next year! When it comes to decorating your home, give the tinsel, shiny plastic decorations and plastic baubles a rethink. Think of paper alternatives and even get the kids to help make them! Decorations of sentimental value that you bring out year on year are great if being reused but if you plan to buy extra decorations and party items this year, think about what they are made from, swapping plastic for more natural materials where you can. LED Christmas lights are also far more energy efficient, using as much as 80% less than incandescent lights, as are solar powered ones for outdoors.
The tradition of sending Christmas cards is dying out, with a quarter of us no longer doing so and it makes sense when we can reach out to friends and family in a multitude of other ways that don’t create waste! As with wrapping paper, if you do want to send cards look for recycled material and avoid non-recyclable elements like foil and glitter. Cards and wrapping marked with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo has been produced sustainably. When it comes to presents, be thoughtful, shop local, look out for eco logo products such as Fairtrade and think about gift ‘experiences’ over things that people don’t really need.
Food & drink
We eat and drink a lot at Christmas and New Year especially if you’re throwing a party, so it pays to be a bit more ethically minded when it comes to mince pies and turkey too. Can you use a local butcher and greengrocer to cut down on food miles whilst avoiding pre-packaged food in plastic too? Consider organic local wine over imported bubbly. Take the time to wrap up and freeze leftovers so nothing goes in the bin – vegetable ends and turkey carcasses can make a brilliant stock and even leftover Christmas cheese can be grated and frozen.
New Year brings glitz and glamour to the high street and it can be a fun time of year to dress up! But all that sparkle isn’t very sustainable, with things like sequins and glitter being non-biodegradable, bad polluters. Is a new Christmas jumper necessary every year too when cheap, fast-fashion is such a problem for our environment? Don’t let sustainability cramp your style, but when buying festive fashion think about versatile items than can be used again throughout the year, or consider vintage, charity shops or clothes swapping over buying brand-new.
If you navigate the consumption of Christmas and New Year in an eco-friendly way, why not carry this spirit into the New Year with a commitment to even more sustainable living. Whether it’s eating less meat, being organised with reusable Tupperware, coffee cups and water bottles for the working week, a stay-cation vs long-haul flights, growing your own produce or a commitment to simply buying less– green resolutions should be on everyone’s list, starting the new decade as we mean to go on!