5 Easy Ways to Create an Eco-Friendly Christmas

A slice of dried orange on a spruce branch

It’s the perfect time to look at how we can reduce our impact over the upcoming festive season, which is generally very wasteful.

125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown out rather than recycled, and  6,000,000 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 in trees alone! 

Here are some easy ways you can create an eco-friendly Christmas for you and your family…

Wrapping Paper

We all have that person in the family who’s armed with the binbag ready to collect the discarded wrapping paper. Give them a break this year with reusable fabric wrapping.

Fabric wraps are a Japanese tradition known as Furoshiki. The word refers both to the craft and to the cloth itself and transforms the world of gift-giving. These square wraps of fabric are used to wrap gifts and can be used time and time again making them the future of eco-gift wrapping.

This Festive Tigers design is the perfect playful print this festive season. These premium wraps will last much longer than single fabric wraps and, with the addition of the satin ribbon, they give that extra special finishing touch.

Another eco-friendly alternative is using plain brown paper. You can easily decorate with pens, string, stamps and decorations like dried fruit, leaves or cinnamon sticks.

Christmas Trees

When deciding between real or plastic trees, a real tree each year is still the greener option. Even though plastic trees can be reused many times, according to the Forestry Commission, real trees use ten times fewer materials and five times less energy to produce than fake ones.

Real Christmas trees are primarily grown on Christmas tree farms, and aren’t cut down from large, wild forests, like some may think. As the tree grows, it cleans the air, helps the soil, absorbs carbon emissions and provides a habitat for wildlife, all while being grown on land not suitable for other crops. Once a tree is cut down for Christmas, another 1-3 trees are planted in its place, making for a sustainable, well-managed way to source an environmentally-friendly Christmas tree.

Buying a real tree still needs careful consideration. It’s better to buy directly from the tree farm to avoid unnecessary transport, plastic sleeves around the tree, and to ensure your tree is as fresh as possible.

If you have a tree with roots still attached, then replanting your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the efforts to plant more trees. Also, unlike artificial trees, real trees can be composted at the end of their lives. Recycled real Christmas trees can be shredded into chippings, which are then used in parks or woodland areas.

Restoring and protecting sustainably managed forests, including Christmas tree farms, is a vital part in addressing climate change, so buying a real tree is a great way to do your bit. 

Alternative Christmas trees are hugely popular. They are perfect for small spaces and can be made using recycled objects such as pallets. For a subtle nod to nature without the real tree, collect assorted sized planks of wood, branches and twigs to create a hanging arrangement with your favourite decorations. You could also ditch the tree altogether and get creative with fairy lights.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are undoubtedly a staple at the Christmas table, however a huge majority of treats from crackers are single-use plastics – most of which goes to landfill or is burned – which is a waste of money, resources and energy. It is estimated that over 40 million Christmas crackers end up in the bin on Christmas Day!

Keep all the fun of the snap, hat and (terrible) joke and forget about the plastic with plantable Christmas crackers. Everything is recyclable and the cracker can go into the ground or plant pots to grow wildflowers for birds, bees and butterflies.

You can also find 100% recyclable Christmas crackers, so no having to separate the ribbons and decorations from the rest of the cardboard – just chuck it all in the paper and card recycling bin.

Christmas Decorations

Instead of getting the plastic tinsel and baubles, choose beautiful recycled decorations instead. Not only are they more sustainable and eco-friendly, but homemade decorations are nicer to look at and will put a homely touch on your decor, rather than looking commercial and tacky.

Use found branches, leaves or dried fruit to create wreaths and tree ornaments, and get crafty with your kids to make cute art pieces for the tree.

If you’re not very crafty yourself, loads of homemade and recycled decorations can be found at craft fairs and Christmas markets, which sounds like a great festive day out to me!

Advent Calendars
white calendar on white surface

Approximately 16.5 million advent calendars will be bought every year, all containing single-use plastics. Because of the mix of materials (often plastic, card and foil) they are often not recycled properly, and inevitably end up in landfill due with lorry loads of contaminated recycling.

Luckily, there’s an eco-friendly alternative to advent calendars! There are countless refillable advent calendars on the market which you can reuse again and again. You could also wrap small presents or treats and label them with numbers 1-24 if you’d prefer. If you only want a small chocolate each day, empty a selection box into a jar or bowl for a lucky dip treat each morning!

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