Top 5 ways to reduce your environmental impact this Christmas

For a slightly more light-hearted article from MORE today, while we think it’s important to consider our environmental impact every day, Christmas is an especially important time to be aware of our eco-friendly practices. In America alone, during the Thanksgiving to Christmas period, Americans will throw away 25% more waste, amounting to almost one million extra tonnes of waste per week (Stanford University). The same study looked at how wrapping gifts alone is one of the biggest contributors to the increased waste produced globally during the Christmas period, which is a particular issue as many of these resources aren’t recycled correctly or reused. For example, is every American family wrapped only 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save 45,000 football fields worth of wrapping paper. And if we sent just one Christmas card less each year, we would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. So, how can we reduce our impact, and what alternatives are there? Let’s take a look shall we…


1. Wrap gifts using recycled paper or reusable fabric

Fabrics such as patterned cloth are great and festive to wrapping gifts, and you can either ask for it back or ask your loved one to reuse it themselves! Instead of ribbon, string is great alternative that can be reused, or, if you can't quite part with your favourite wrapping ribbon, just reuse it! Did you know that if every US family reused just two feet of ribbon, we’d save 38,000 miles of ribbon a year. The trouble with wrapping paper is the non-recyclable aspects of it- such as glitter, foil or plastic elements on the outer layer of it. An easy way to test if your wrapping paper is recyclable is to check the packaging or to perform a ‘scrunch test’- if you scrunch wrapping paper and let go and it stays scrunched, you most likely can recycle it. However, if it unfolds on its own, it’s probably not recyclable. But to be safe, either use a fabric, use a roll of wrapping paper that’s either recyclable or made of recycled materials or reuse your old newspapers or magazines as a unique wrapping paper that are recyclable too!


Here’s a company called ‘Re-wrapped’ that sells eco-friendly wrapping paper which is vegan friendly, made of 100% recycled materials and compostable:

o https://www.re-wrapped.co.uk/

This company, ‘WragWrap’, that sells reusable fabric gift wrap:

o https://www.wragwrap.com/

Here is another link to some eco-friendly, 100% biodegradable wrapping paper from the ‘Little Green Paper Shop’:

o https://littlegreenpapershop.com/collections/christmas/products/eco-friendly-christmas-wrapping-paper-100-biodegradable


2. Send more eco-friendly cards

When buying Christmas cards, looking for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark on the packaging is a surefire way to guarantee that the paper used for the card has been sustainable and ethically produced. Another easy way to limit your impact is to not buy plastic wrapped cards.

Plantable cards are growing in prevalence too. These cards are only slightly more expensive than their cheaper alternatives but are an awesome treat for your loved ones this festive season. The cards are biodegradable and environmentally friendly and are embedded with different types of seeds. So when you’re done with them, you simply plant them, water them, and watch them grow!


‘Ruby & Bo’ create these beautiful wildflower cards for any time of year:

o https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/rubyandbo/product/wildflowers-ii-plantable-seed-card

The ‘Little Green Paper Shop’ also creates seeded paper calendars as a gift idea:

o https://littlegreenpapershop.com/collections/christmas/products/seed-paper-plantable-calendar-2021


3. Eco-friendly crackers

Whether they use recycled/recyclable materials or made of linen and allow you to put your own gifts, crackers create a lot of waste, especially when your get an unwanted, plastic gift that also ends up in landfill. Try these alternatives for just as much fun without the negative impact:


Try these linen refillable and reusable crackers from ‘Kate Sprotson Design’ from Not on the High Street:

o https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/katesprostonembroideredtextiles/product/reusable-christmas-cracker?awc=18484_1638359643_33f3e27650c1d4d77d859f2daf6b4978&utm_source=AWIN&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=Skimlinks&utm_term=78888

These ‘Cox and Cox’ recyclable Christmas crackers are more eco-friendly as they use sustainably sourced paper from the UK and use vegetable-based inks, while looking just as nice on your table:

o https://www.coxandcox.co.uk/luxury-handmade-alpine-snowflakes-crackers/?source=aw&utm_source=Affiliate_Window&utm_medium=Affiliate_Marketing&utm_campaign=Affiliate_Window_Sale&awc=4746_1638434228_182e3067b3a5940a75a6ff2619b01653


4. For managing your energy consumption better, invest in a smart meter

To help reduce your impact on climate change while also saving money (up to £200 a year), investing in a smart meter to better manage your energy consumption is an easy step forward. A campaign fronted by Chris Packham and created in conjunction with Smart Energy GB, the Energy Saving Trust and the University of Salford called #MissingPiece is trying to promote smart meters to help achieve the government’s net-carbon zero target by 2050. If every household got a smart meter now, 11% of this target would be instantly satisfied- showing how every person can have a big role in mitigating against climate change. As Chris Packham told Country Living; “…we know that we are aiming towards their target of net-zero by 2050 and the demands of Extinction Rebellion say 2025. They are both really tall orders and, if we are going to get anywhere near meeting those, we can't put the responsibility entirely on the government and the protestors – we've all got to do things. The #MissingPiece campaign focuses on something we can all do in the relatively dry and warm comfort of our own homes – smart meters."


5. Food, glorious food

Everyone loves Christmas food. From the Christmas day roast to a picky-bits party spread, food and drink play an important cultural role in Christmas festivities. However, there are certain things we can all do to help reduce the negative impacts of Christmas consumption:

o Source ingredients from local, small-scale producers to reduce food miles and packaging used by bigger chain supermarkets. Good places to source more ethical ingredients include Riverford (https://www.riverford.co.uk/), Abel&Cole (https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/), Farmdrop (https://www.farmdrop.com/shop) and Coombe Organic Farm (https://www.coombefarmorganic.co.uk/)

o Don’t waste leftovers! In the tun up to Christmas, work your way through your freezer to leave plenty of space to store leftovers once Christmas is over. And if you’d rather use them up now than store them away, Riverford has a tool that allows you to browse recipe suggestions for your leftovers

o Composting, if you don’t already do it, is a great way to use up food scraps that otherwise are difficult to repurpose into other recipes

o Apps such as Olio help mitigate against the major problem in the UK of food wastage- food waste charity WRAP estimates that we throw away £15 billion of food a year. Using Olio, you simply take a photo of what you have and don’t need/want, share your location with other users, and it connects you with other people in need in your area. Great for Christmas extras you didn’t use after your party, food items sitting in the fridge when you go away for a New Year’s holiday or, for other times of year, spare homegrown fruit and veg

o When it comes to drinks, organic alcohol created in the UK is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as it’s all produced more ethically right here in the United Kingdom, for example from Forty Hall Vineyard in London (https://www.fortyhallvineyard.com/) and Da Mhile’s organic whiskey, brandy and gin made in the UK’s first organic distillery in South Wales (https://www.damhile.co.uk/). Browse the Vintage Roots website for hundreds of different organic options (https://www.vintageroots.co.uk/)

o Another tip for when you need some extra glasses for a Christmas get-together is to rent glasses, for example from Majestic Wine, instead of having to buy more glasses or plastic cups (https://www.majestic.co.uk/services/parties)


And that concludes our top 5 ways to have a more environmentally friendly Christmas. For other tips, we recommend this Country Living article on 18 ways to have a eco-friendly Christmas (https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/interiors/g25329535/eco-friendly-christmas-ideas-green-christmas/), this Real Homes article with 16 other tips (https://www.realhomes.com/advice/10-tips-for-an-eco-friendly-christmas) and Stanford Recycling FAQs page on holiday Waste Prevention (https://www.realhomes.com/advice/10-tips-for-an-eco-friendly-christmas (https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention).


Let’s all DO MORE to have a more sustainable Christmas this year.


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