Christmas has become a time of mass consumption. Don’t get us wrong, the joy of gift-giving, eating and drinking, and socialising with loved ones might just make it the most wonderful time of the year for those who celebrate! But the pressure to live in excess could also leave you feeling sluggish, overwhelmed or even guilty for over-indulging — and we don’t just mean the mince pies. But there are little changes and smart ways to transform your yuletide into a more sustainable Christmas that you can feel really good about — and who doesn’t want to feel good during the holidays?!
Sustainability, in essence, is about balancing our needs and the need to maintain the world’s natural resources. In our modern world, a lot of the things we think we need are actually compromising our ability to live in harmony with the world. Protecting our planet is important every day and, contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to compromise our Christmas merriment to do so. In fact, we’ll show you some ways to have a sustainable Christmas that might just be even more happily Hygge, merrily mindful, crafty, and delicious than the norm.
Decorate As Though the Planet Depends On It!
You might think you can’t make much of a difference, but if more of us discovered these little decorating switches, we can all matter. If you’re crafting a sparkly Christmas wreath this year, you could try using eco-friendly glitter and attempt to create a masterpiece that can go on the compost. Likewise, if you’re hanging your wreath outside, avoid using plastic adornments that could be harmful to wildlife. You could try crafting an earth-friendly wreath using all-natural materials. But don’t limit this approach to your wreath; we have five amazingly fun and simple Christmas craft ideas you can set your mind to and get in the festive spirit.
Trees Aren’t Just for Christmas
Take the staple of any sustainable Christmas decor — the tree. You might be able to bottle that beautiful fresh pine tree scent, but for most tree-lovers, there’s nothing quite like the joy of having a real tree in your home. Herein lies a conundrum; how do you chop down a tree and have a sustainable Christmas? Well, good news — you can actually rent beautiful Christmas trees that are grown in a sustainable manner by accredited growers approved by the FSC or Soil Association. They will drop the tree off at your door and, after the festivities, pick it back up and replant the tree. Little harm done! Alternatively, ditch your plastic tree for something wooden to cut down on manufacturing emissions.
Give a Sustainable Christmas Gift
Rather than purchasing your gifts, why not make your own? You could follow our step-by-step guide on making your own Christmas candles. How about gifting some festive-scented soaps you’ve made from scratch? No doubt, the personal touch will go a long way when your parcels are taken out from under the tree to be opened come Christmas morning. If you have the perfect present for a loved one in mind already, try to buy locally and from independent sellers where possible. We might be biased, but we think giving the gift of eLearning or online experiences, rather than material gifts, are also a great environmentally-friendly option. You could even re-gift unwanted items. We won’t tell if you don’t!
Re-Yule: Reuse and Recycle
Christmas is one of the best times of year for those who celebrate to get really crafty. Instead of purchasing plastic-based wrapping paper, why not try reusable fabric to really make your gifts stand out under the tree or decorate brown paper with drawings and reusable ribbons for a traditional aesthetic?
Instead of opening up a generic, throwaway advent calendar each morning, this year, you could invest in a bespoke wooden calendar to be enjoyed generations from now! The opening will be all the more enjoyable each year knowing you don’t have to stuff the remnants of the advent calendar in the bin.
A Scrumptiously Sustainable Christmas Day Dinner
Going vegan for your Christmas dinner doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a nut roast. From eggnog to gravy to stuffing, by way of meat-free pigs in blankets — with vegan sausages wrapped in dairy-free puff pastry or courgette — you can still enjoy the traditional flavours of the festive season without the environmental impact of large-scale production. Take a look at some of our great big vegan dinner ideas for inspiration.
If you can’t imagine your Christmas without a whole turkey, don’t worry — just try to source your food locally to support your local farmers and cut down on the distance your food has had to travel to get to your oven come Christmas morning! Likewise, don’t let your sustainable Christmas get in the way of you enjoying your favourite tipple. Why not use it as an excuse to try out your local distilleries or breweries in advance of the big day and stock up for the festive season?
And while moderation and merriment don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, try not to order so much food that much of it goes to waste. Make room in the freezer throughout December by eating up the supplies. On the day, any other leftovers can always go towards a cracking bubble and squeak or Christmas soup, once you’ve recovered! Alternatively, food waste apps such as Olio can help connect you to those in need at Christmas – donating what you don’t open and eat.
Walk Your Way to a Sustainable Christmas
A Christmas day walk with loved ones is such a treasured time for many who celebrate. But rather than drive to your local beauty spot or park, why not walk or cycle there? It’s certainly more of an adventure than piling into a car, uncomfortably squeezed in amongst the big coats.
Swap the Log Burner for LEDs
You can still light up the street and get curtains twitching with your illuminations, but try to stick to solar-powered lights, especially outside your home. Did you also know that, according to the University of York, if every home in the UK swapped a string of Christmas lights for LEDs, together we could prevent the emission of 29,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 12 days of Christmas alone, as well as saving a grand total of more than £11 million? That’s more than enough Monopoly money to make this Christmas the best one yet!
Game Your Way to a Sustainable Christmas
Speaking of Monopoly money, here’s a way to make your sustainable Christmas special without really trying. Swap the TV for a game with the whole family. You’ll be using less electricity and having more fun — and we’re betting that you were going to make time for some quality time anyway!
But remember, sustainability is not just for Christmas.
Check out our blog on climate change to discover more ways in which we can all make a difference together, all year round, from petitioning your local government, investing in good insulation for your home, to simply switching to a smart meter.