Christmas is such a brilliant time of the year, but its impact on the planet is not so amazing! We produce an insane amount of extra waste during the festive period, along with additional pollution from the manufacturing and transportation of the gifts we buy.
On top of this, in the UK alone, we are expected to throw out over 200 miles of wrapping paper! And, if we placed all of our Christmas cards alongside each other, they would wrap around the world 5 times. Add this to the 125,000 tons of plastic packaging we will be binning, and Christmas starts to look a lot less merry. It’s not just our bank balances taking a massive hit, but our planet too.
Let’s rethink our bad habits; here are 15 simple ways to make your Christmas more eco-friendly this year…
1. Avoid metallic wrapping paper
Did you know that so much of the wrapping paper we put into our recycling bins is not actually recyclable? You can still pick a cute print, but avoid metallic and glittery paper to make sure it can be easily recycled. If in doubt, brown parcel paper is great and you can always decorate it yourself, or get the kids involved.
2. Buy second-hand gifts
Not everything needs to be brand new – have a hunt on selling websites such as Preloved or Ebay, or search for what’s available locally through Facebook Marketplace or in the charity shops near you. Second-hand shopping is so much better for the planet and will save you a bomb – it’s especially great for kid’s toys, click here for more info!
3. Avoid unnecessary gifting
Go for quality over quantity and reduce how much you buy, as well as who you buy for – this is better for the planet and your bank balance! Have a chat with friends and family before Christmas, and agree to cut back on gifts and spend time together instead.
4. Cook from scratch
You can avoid so much unnecessary packaging waste by cooking from scratch – and it’s usually cheaper and tastier. Buy fruit and vegetables loose, and pre-plan your meals to make things less stressful. A lot of our festive staples can be prepared in advance and frozen too!
5. Boycott Christmas cards
This is one that I finally decided to do last year, and I’ll certainly be keeping this up every year! Consider the immense amount of trees chopped down to produce our Christmas cards, which end up in our recycling bins two weeks later. And, individual cards usually come needlessly wrapped in plastic packaging too! Get the kids to make cards for close family members, and wish everyone else well via text or email to save money and reduce waste.
6. Make your own gift tags using last year’s Christmas cards
This is a tradition in my family and I love doing it. Make sure you save your cards this year and read my post on making free gift tags to find out how!
7. Decorate with LED fairy lights
LED lights use a lot less energy than other lights, but are just as beautiful and will cost you less to run as well!
8. Re-use packaging
When you receive parcels and packages in the post, keep hold of the envelopes, bags, bubblewrap, tissue paper and boxes. These things can be easily reused for your own gifts and it will save you money too. Don’t bin gift-bags after one use either, keep them to use again year after year, and encourage your friends and family to do the same – Christmas pillow cases can be a cute re-usable option for delivering gifts too.
9. Reduce your food waste
16.5 million turkeys are bought every year in the UK – enough for one per three people! Research shows that we waste up to 40% of the food purchased over the Christmas period. Make sure you plan your meals carefully to avoid wasting money and food. Click here for more Christmas feast tips!
10. Buy rechargeable batteries
Buying rechargeable batteries for your gadgets and children’s toys will avoid extra waste and save you money. And, if you are using up normal batteries, make sure you recycle the old ones – there are bins in places like Tesco and Sainsbury’s for this.
11. Shop for cruelty free, eco-friendly gifts
Be mindful about what you buy for others and where possible go for eco-friendly options. Buying items produced locally will mean that they have a smaller carbon footprint, and this will help to support smaller businesses in your local area too.
12. Don’t bin unwanted food
If you won’t use it before the sell by date, head down to your local supermarket and pop it into the food bank collection box.
13. Rethink what you gift
For me, making memories and experiencing new things is much more fun than material gifts. Why not give your loved ones the gift of a day out or an experience instead of ‘things’? Buyagift is great for gifting interesting things to do! Or, if you have a skill, give the gift of your time.
14. Pass things on to others
If you’re having a Christmas clear out, or receive gifts which aren’t your cup of tea, pass unwanted items on to your local charity shops to give them a second chance. Schools, children’s centres and women’s refuges are usually very grateful for toys and dressing up clothes too!
15. Spread the word!
Doing your bit is fantastic, but raising awareness and encouraging others to be more mindful is so important if we want to have a real impact. Get your friends and family on board – share this post with others, and let’s get everyone making more eco-friendly choices this Christmas!