Sustainable Hacks for an Eco-Conscious Christmas

Now that we’ve bid farewell to Black Friday, the festive period has officially begun and Christmas is fast approaching!

Our favourite thing about Christmas is that it’s a time of love and cheer. It’s a time to share with family and friends, to spread joy and reflect, and to eat leftovers for four consecutive days. However, it’s no secret that Christmas is also a time of excess and it not only has a lasting effect on our wallets, but also on our lovely planet. The excess that is associated with Christmas is substantial, leading it to be the most wasteful time of the year.

Wayst, an environmentally friendly waste clearance company, highlights some of the worst offenders as:

  • An estimated 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bin after December 25th.
  • 83 square kilometers of wrapping paper will be thrown out or burnt – enough to gift-wrap the island of Jersey!
  • 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown out, rather than recycled.
  • Six million trees are thrown out after Christmas, creating more than 9,000 tonnes of additional waste. That’s about five times the weight of the London Eye!
  • During Christmas, we’ll cook around 6,711 tonnes of fresh turkey, and 12,472 tonnes of frozen turkey. That’s almost 20,000 tonnes of meat.
  • Additionally, around 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil gets thrown away every Christmas in the UK.

According to GWP Group, a UK-based packing manufacturer, it is estimated that 10 million turkeys are consumed each Christmas. This also means over 3,000 tonnes of turkey packaging will be used (with the plastic element of this alone being equivalent to the weight of 30 blue whales).

But don’t despair, there’s no need to be a scrooge this Christmas. We’ve got some great hacks to follow for an environmentally friendly festive season, full of all the things you love – but better!

Zero-Waste Gift Wrapping

Did you know that most wrapping papers contain dyes, laminates, and glitter, which means they can’t be recycled?  If you’ve left it last minute or zero-waste isn’t an option, look for gift wrap that’s matte, without any gloss or glitter – they’ll often be fully recyclable.  A good test to see whether or not paper is recyclable is to scrunch it and if it doesn’t spring back, then it can be recycled.

Fabric Wrap | One idea to tackle wrapping paper waste is to wrap presents in fabric wrap. The Fabric Wrapping Co has a wonderful selection of fabric wraps, which can be reused by friends and family for birthdays and Christmases to come. There are lots of resources online and on Instagram which show the best ways to wrap your gifts.

Paper & Decoration Alternatives | Additionally, why don’t you swap out the glittery (non-recyclable) gift wrap for newspaper or brown kraft paper? Add a sprig of natural holly or rosemary in place of a gift tag or bow, and you have an eco-friendly and natural alternative that is also budget-friendly.

Plastic Free Tape | Ditch the plastic sellotape and opt for biodegradable paper tape this Christmas. The tape is widely recyclable and it is an easy, eco-friendly alternative. There are lots of resources that teach you new ways to wrap your presents, including the one below which shows you how to wrap a gift using only one piece of tape! Doing this allows the recipient to reuse the paper too.

Waste-Less Gifts

According to Finder, 6.13% of us throw away unwanted gifts. That means they’ll most likely end up in landfill. Instead, let’s ensure we donate them to charities in need. If you receive lots of bath and body gift sets you don’t think you’ll use, why don’t you donate them to our partner charity, The Hygiene Bank. who will give them to those in need of hygiene products.

Subscription Services | Try swapping to virtual gifts this year, such as subscription services? Think Audible, Headspace, Netflix, Spotify, or Scribd. There are plenty of waste-free e-options that are sure to be suited to friends and family whether they’re into books, well-being, baking or music. Prefer something more outdoorsy or educational? A membership to the National Trust or a National Art Pass will be well loved.

Sustainable Toys | Organise a toy swap with friends and family to ensure you get as much use as possible out of toys that would otherwise be thrown away. Whirli is a site that allows you to subscribe to toys in order to reuse them as much as possible, allowing your children to have new toys regularly and when they grow out of them, you return them for other children to use.

Sites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree or even car boot sales and charity shops are great options for buying secondhand toys. You can often find toys in excellent condition and it’s possible to find toys being given away for free! When your little one has made the most of them, donate the old toys and give them another lease of life. Don’t forget to recycle what you can and ask your local recycling center to advise on the best way to recycle plastic toys.

Experiences | Another tried and tested successful option is gifting experiences. Virgin Experience Days are our go-to for picking out exciting adventures to give to friends & family. Choose from a variety of experiences such as spa days, culinary experiences, race car driving, or helicopter rides, there’s something to suit everyone. Keep an eye out for their flash sales and offers too!

Supporting Small Businesses | Look for local businesses which offer experiences and lessons such as flower arranging, pottery painting, baking, cooking, or even calligraphy. Ask around or visit your local high street to see what’s on offer.

Gift Cards | Gift cards are also a great idea as they are practical and ensure the recipient picks out something they really want. If buying presents for lots of little ones, ask their parents if they would prefer gift cards or money towards activities such as zoos, cinemas, farms and theme parks.

Did you know that Mum & You also offers e-gift cards? It’ll be sent directly to mama’s inbox!

Offset Your CO2 Emissions

Travel | Visiting family and friends during Christmas is often non-negotiable. Sites such as Atmosfair or MyClimate allow you to donate money towards climate protection projects worldwide in order to offset your travel emissions.

Waste-Free Renting

Outfits | Thinking of buying a dazzling Christmas outfit this Christmas? We know that our shopping habits have a substantial effect on our planet, with 10,000 items of clothing being sent to landfill every five minutes. So this Christmas, why don’t you try renting an outfit for as long as you need it. Many websites and apps such as By Rotation allow you to rent glam (even designer) outfits for as little as £8.00 a day.

Kids Clothing | Similarly to above, Dotte is a resale site for children’s clothing. The quality brands in their resale collective produce gorgeous clothes that stand the test of time – ready to be passed on from your family to the next (and the next!)

Christmas Tree | Rent your Christmas tree! Sustainable Christmas tree company Green Elf Trees is offering exactly this. Every purchase supports out-of-work musicians and entertainers (the elves who deliver them!) and a £3 donation goes to a charity of your choice. Try searching online to see if there are similar initiatives near you.

Plastic-Free Decorations

Christmas Crackers| Try plastic-free, recyclable Christmas crackers this year in lieu of the usual tiny plastic surprises. Eco-conscious online store Ecovibe provides lots of sustainable alternatives for Christmas and beyond, and plants a tree for every order made.

Wreaths | Avoid buying plastic wreaths this year, and instead opt for natural ones. Why not try attending a wreath-making workshop to create your own plastic-free Christmas creation with natural decorations such as dried fruit and pinecones?

Christmas Cards | This year, why don’t you send eco-friendly Christmas cards? Search for ones that use 100% recycled materials, are plastic-free, can be recycled with paper. These particular ones from Enviroli come with a pack of native UK forget-me-not seed sticks!

Alternatively, there are lots of options to send virtual Christmas cards too if you’d like to go paper-free, or if you’re sending cards en masse. If you choose not to send cards at all this year, why don’t you think about donating the money you would usually spend on cards and stamps to a local charity.

We hope these suggestions inspire you to make a sustainable change this Christmas, even if it’s just a little one! Have any sustainable Christmas hacks of your own? We’d love to hear from you in our comments down below!

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