Christmas is an exciting time of year for many people – but we can’t ignore the waste it generates. Stats show that approximately £42 million pounds worth of gifts are discarded and sent to landfill every year. On top of that, around 108 million rolls of wrapping paper are thrown away in the bin, creating an excessive amount of waste.
However, with a few simple changes, we can cut back on waste and have a more sustainable Christmas.
There’s often a debate on whether buying a real Christmas tree or an artificial one is more sustainable. Well, according to Carbon Trust, that all depends on the type of tree, the disposal and the usage.
Potted trees are the most sustainable Christmas trees because they can be re-planted, reducing your carbon footprint by up to 80%. However, if you can’t get a real Christmas tree for whatever reason, an artificial one doesn’t have to come with a huge cost to the planet.
Reusing your current artificial tree for 7 – 20 years can be better for the environment than buying a new tree without roots every year. If you need a new tree, checking second-hand first is the most sustainable option. Here are some suggestions:
- Charity shops.
- Vinted or Depop.
- Facebook marketplace.
- Ask friends or family members if they have a spare.
Hubbub, an environmental charity that ran a study on Christmas jumpers, found that 1 in 3 adults under 35 buy a new Christmas jumper every year. And many of those jumpers are discarded after Christmas or stashed away in the wardrobe where they will be unworn.
The most sustainable Christmas jumper is the one you already own, so you should make the most of it by re-wearing it every year.
If you must buy a new one, check second-hand first. At least this way you won’t be buying anything brand new and fuelling demand. You could also ask friends or family members if they have any Christmas jumpers they no longer wear; this saves you money and prevents waste.
The problem with most Christmas decorations is they’re not made with sustainable materials. Many of them are made with glitter, foil, and plastic, which are not good for the environment and often can’t be recycled.
The most sustainable thing that you can do is reuse the same Christmas decorations every year to cut back on spending and waste. Alternatively, you can have a look in charity shops, as they often have decorations around this time of year.
If you like getting creative, you can try DIY Christmas decorations. Here are some ideas:
- Dried orange garland.
- Using toilet paper tubes to make a Santa Claus or snowman.
- Crochet stars.
- Paper star garland.
You can use materials that you already have around the house like old cardboard boxes, ribbons, bows and paper to make all kinds of decorations. And the best part is they can be cherished and used year in, year out.
To avoid unwanted gifts ending up in landfill, ask people what they want first. Some people will gladly give you a list of ideas or suggestions if you ask them.
If someone doesn’t tell you what they want, try to pay attention to what they already use or buy frequently. A great sustainable gift idea is a hamper full of items they regularly use like deodorant, body wash and shampoo.
To cut back on spending, you can always try looking for second-hand gifts. Scarves, gloves, and hats would make great gifts because they are practical for this time of year.
Another waste-free gift idea are gift cards. E-cards are better since there is no physical product and they can be sent via email to minimise waste. Try to avoid Amazon, if possible, and go for smaller and sustainable businesses. Etsy is a great option since there are many small businesses on there that need the support, and many people already shop from there. This is the best option for the “people who already have everything”.
Looking for a unique gift instead? We’ve put together a helpful gift guide for yoga lovers. From our reliable and sustainable yoga mat to our cork yoga block, there’s a gift for all yogis. Did you know we also have gift cards to suit all budgets? All gift cards are delivered by email and valid for up to 1 year.
Christmas crackers are a long-standing tradition, but they can create lots of waste. Some Christmas crackers can’t be recycled because they contain plastic or glitter. Some crackers also contain plastic toys that often get thrown away.
Luckily, there are many sustainable Christmas crackers now available. From fully recyclable crackers to reusables, there are options for all budgets.
The best and most cost-effective solution is to make your own crackers or buy reusables. Many reusable crackers are made from a mix of cardboard and paper which can be recycled and reused for many years.
Reusable crackers have a bigger upfront cost compared to shop-bought ones. However, if you reuse them year after year, you will make a saving in as little as 2 to 3 years. This is the most sustainable choice because nothing gets thrown away.
As mentioned above, 108 million rolls of wrapping paper get thrown away every year, so anything we can do to prevent that is worth doing.
Most wrapping paper can be recycled if it doesn’t have glitter on it, but make sure you check this before purchasing. You must also remove any bows, ribbons, or plastic tape, as these can’t be recycled.
The most sustainable wrapping paper is reusable wrapping paper because it won’t get thrown away. As you’ll be reusing it for years, you will save some money over time. However, this isn’t the best option for everyone, as it comes with a big upfront cost.
Other options include:
- Recycled wrapping paper.
- Kraft paper.
- Paper bags.
- Cardboard boxes.
- Biodegradable tissue paper.
- Toilet roll tubes (for small gifts).
However you decide to spend Christmas this year, we hope you have a great time, surrounded by love and laughter. Remember to look after your mental and physical health during the festive season by slowing down and engaging in self care. Have a Merry Christmas!