How to have a ‘Green’ Christmas

Written by Lori Campbell on 13th Nov 2019

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Christmas has long been a time of excess and out-of-control consumerism, and it’s taking a huge toll on our planet (and our finances). From buying second-hand to choosing environmentally-friendly retailers, there are plenty of more sustainable ways to show your friends and family – and the Earth – that you care this festive season.

Here’s our top tips for a greener Christmas:

 

1. Rent your Christmas tree

Around eight million Christmas trees are bought every December in the UK alone. That’s a lot of intensive production, and a lot of waste. While fake trees do last for years, they take massive amounts of energy to manufacture and will all eventually end up in the rubbish dump. More than 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases are produced by rotting trees after the festive period every year.

Many garden centres and plant nurseries now offer a Christmas tree rental service. They’ll often deliver and collect the tree to save you the hassle. It will then be replanted to be used again the following year. Just make sure your hired tree is grown sustainably by looking for either the FSC or Soil Association logo.

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2. Buy less

A new report by gift-giving app WhatWeWant has revealed that over half (53 per cent) of Brits received an unwanted gift last Christmas. That’s a huge amount of waste that could be avoided. This year, why not make your present list shorter (and release others from having to buy you something in return). For close friends and family try buying something thoughtful, that comes without excessive packaging, such as an activity you can do together.

Global giving platform Patchwork has just launched ‘The Give List’ (inspired by the co-founder’s eight-year-old daughter). It enables children to ask for things like ‘bake a cake with Nan’, ‘swimming lessons’ or even ‘help me write and produce a play’ – as well as new and second-hand gifts too.

3. Buy smart gifts

Many gifts available in mainstream shops and online come from halfway around the world. The impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and markets are a great source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation and packaging.

With Black Friday approaching promising big online bargains, try new Google add-on Shoppingpal. It gives a simple ‘green leaf’ rating next to the retailers in your search results, based on how good they are from an ethical and environmental point of view. It also makes shopping more rewarding for you by offering exclusive discounts and a prize draw. Use the code GOODMONEYGIRL when you sign up and you’ll get five free cash prize draw tickets.

 

4. Send online cards

Around 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away each year in the UK alone. That’s a whole lot of waste. You could get your message across while also cutting your carbon footprint, saving trees (and money!) by sending e-cards instead.

 

5. Cut food waste

Choose foods that are light on packaging, or buy loose items. If you do end up cooking too much, don’t bin what’s left. Transforming leftovers can be a great way to create new meals, save money and cut waste. You could challenge your family to suggest recipes with whatever you’ve got in the fridge.

If you have too many leftovers, see what you can freeze, or donate some to an elderly neighbour, local food bank or soup kitchen. Compost any other waste.

 

6. Choose natural

The amount of paper waste generated over the Christmas period is equivalent to between five and 12 million litres of biofuel. That’s enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times.

This year try swapping the tinsel for natural or DIY decorations. Why not recycle or make your own Christmas decorations? Pine cones, holly, mistletoe and ivy all look beautiful (and are fun to forage for with the kids), and smell very festive too.