At Christmas we all tend to overdo everything: too much food and drinks, too many presents and we seldom, if ever, think of what we are doing to our carbon footprint.
We can however have a really great Christmas without breaking the bank and still reduce our effect on climate change. Below are some tips to have an eco-friendly Christmas that everyone can still enjoy.
The first thing you can do is to cut out any waste by planning ahead and being realistic about how much food you need. Instead of using cling film, wrap leftovers in foil or wax cloth covers to keep them fresh and make use of leftovers the following day in soups and curries.
Eating more plant-based meals is good for both you and the planet. The livestock industry generates 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, you could try a meat alternative.
Look for UK produce to reduce food miles, and search for sustainability certifications such as RSPO-certified palm oil and MSC-certified seafood. Make your shopping basket more sustainable by buying locally produced, seasonal products.
Many Christmas crackers are not recyclable, and the toys inside are often made of plastic, so look out for FSC-certified crackers instead. DIY crackers are another great option with the added advantage, you can fill them yourself with sustainable options. Avoid single-use tablecloths and napkins. Instead, use material versions and wash them at lower temperatures to help reduce your environmental footprint.
If you must buy a plastic Christmas tree, make sure that you’re going to reuse it for at least 10 years. Otherwise, it would be better to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest which can be used every year (make sure it’s FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified).
Be clear on how to dispose of your tree once the season is over. If it is potted, think about replanting it or get it recycled and turned into wood chips. Check your local council website as many offer a sustainable collection service. Use LED lights on your Christmas tree; they use less energy, last longer and look just as good! Also, switch off your lights at night – it’s safer and saves energy.
Many adults say they receive gifts they don’t want at Christmas so go for quality not quantity and pick an item that will last a long time, and won’t go to waste. You could, for example, gift an experience such as tickets to shows, concerts or events. Gift a homemade coupon book, make a restaurant reservation or give a gift card. If you’re struggling for a gift idea – why not choose an animal to adopt or membership to a wildlife or ecological organisation.
The materials gifts are made from is important so ensure wood and paper gifts are made from recycled or FSC-certified materials. Avoid single plastics items and look for things like organic-certified food and clothing. Remove packaging or buy gifts with little or no packaging.
If you must use packaging, use recycled, or recyclable, materials and no plastic or glitter. Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper. Avoid plastic ribbon and tape or foil-backed wrapping paper. Check out some tape-free wrapping techniques online such as wrap cloth and tie with decorative string or ribbon.
Other useful tips
This is the party season so If you are going to a party try to use outfits that you already own! If you can’t find anything to wear, ask friends or family if they have something you can borrow, or try looking around second-hand shops.
The festive season is all about spending time with friends and family. Make sure that you consider your carbon footprint if you are travelling. Try making one of your festive activities a walk around your local park or nature reserve.
We hope you found these tips helpful and we wish you all a very happy and eco-friendly Christmas. Let’s hope that in 2023 we make major strides in addressing Climate Change.
For more information about Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth, visit Sherwood Forest FoE on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pauline Meechan, Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth