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How to have an eco-friendly Christmas

Christmas can be a time of excess for many of us but as we are becoming more aware of the environment, we search for ways of making this festive period less wasteful and eco-friendlier. From swapping gift wrap for sustainable alternatives and reusing gift bags, to opting for less meat over Yuletide to reduce their carbon footprints, many people have start making changes to what they’d usually do. For those of us who want to do more this December, or even those who wish to start, read through our great list of ingenious and practical ways to become more sustainable this holiday period.

Wrapping & Gifts

A great many of us have started to swap wrapping paper for recyclable alternatives or reuse gift bags. If you’re struggling to find eco-alternatives to wrapping paper, why not use newspaper? You could purchase a few issues of a foreign language newspaper to add a luxe touch.

Head scarves from charity shops to wrap your presents are a great option and can look incredibly chic. If the recipient does not wear scarves or want to keep them, encourage them to gift the scarves on or you can reuse for wrapping other presents during the year.

Gifts baskets are another good alternative, you can wrap these in compostable cellophane for a hamper-esque feel. Shoe boxes with no lids are a cheaper alternative to wicker baskets, save them though the year and make ‘date night in’ boxes for couples with mini bottles of wine and chocolates. Or make ‘rainy day’ activity hampers for kids with colouring books and nibbles in.

Tote bags make a lovely gift and you can use one to pop your gifts in instead of a gift bag. You’d also be gifting sustainability on!

A lot of gifts are packaged in large plastic boxes which then have plastic sections inside to ensure the items look presentable and attractive. There are two issues with this, one is the extra use of plastic and the other is there is an added price to a packaged present. Savvy shoppers find the same items packaged separately for a smaller cost to their wallets and the earth. Also, make sure that gifts are packaged in recycled/recyclable/compostable materials. Our Health & Beauty and Candles & Diffusers ranges were handpicked for their ethical and natural ingredients and packaging.

Whilst many of us may have lost the art of making presents, instead of buying little stocking fillers such as biscuits, you could make some. You could also pop some bee-attracting seeds (coming soon to Original Organics) into a gift basket or stocking to encourage people to get out into their gardens.

image of newspaper gift wrap

Food & Drink

There is nothing like a feast with your nearest and dearest during the festive period, but many households are left with a large amount of waste. If you usually bag food waste up in your kitchen caddy for kerbside collection, you could start composting on a small scale to get into the swing of creating a rich fertiliser for spring time planting.

Cutting down on meat is an easy way to ensure you lower your carbon footprint. With an increase in Veganism in the UK, there are more options than the traditional nut roast around! You could swap one of your meat selections with a substitute easily found in most supermarkets. There are even vegan alternatives to salmon now, so give it a go!

If you’re not able to swap even a small portion of your consumption, source meat from a local butcher or buy organic produce. Butchers sometimes package meat in less plastic or can pop your purchase into a tub that you bring along. Butchers also mostly sell meat from local suppliers. Organic produce is a good way of making sure your food has a smaller carbon footprint due to better farming methods.

A few towns in the UK now have waste-free shops where customers take their own jars and Tupperware along to fill up with produce. Find out if you have one locally and stock up on some Christmas food this way. If there isn’t one near you, push this ethos into the supermarket by not using plastic bags for fruit & veg.

image of zero waste shop

Decorations & Cards

The distance a card must travel, the materials used in their production and the fact that most are sent to landfill can mean greetings cards are not an eco-friendly option for wishing loved ones a happy holiday. Making e-cards is a great alternative and with so many free template companies on the internet, this could save the pennies too. For family or friends without access to the internet, you could craft your own and cut down on printing inks. Or make a keepsake/something edible so recipients do not feel the need to bin it once Christmas is over.

Although we may believe that real Christmas trees make a smaller impact on the environment because they are natural, it is not true. The space needed to grow these just to then be cut down means it can be quite wasteful. A faux tree used year on year could be better so stick to what you have. Also, checking for an FSC stamp on trees means your tree is a better for the environment. You could also grow your own tree in a pot during the year and bring indoors during the festive period for display, thus saving money and the Earth.

There are so many amazing and cheap ways to make sure you have a sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas. It can be relatively easy to swap a few things and cut down your carbon footprint during this time of feasting and gifting. No traditions need changing, it is a simple case of reduce, reuse, recycle.

To find out how you can live and garden more sustainably, explore through our full range on Original Organics.