Posted on: 26 November 2018
Christmas is a time of plenty. Plenty to eat, plenty to drink, plenty of presents, plenty of love etc etc etc. It’s a wonderful time of the year for the majority of us, and for the majority of us we don’t think much about the impact that it can have.
Thankfully in recent years we have all become more aware of the effect our lives have on the environment, from banishing plastic bags in the weekly shop to proudly cutting down red meat consumption after learning about the impacts that can have. The issue is, a lot of our good intentions fly out the window when it comes to ‘special occasions’, such as Christmas and New Year, but they needn’t. Living sustainably is easier than ever, and by changing a few simple things this Christmas time you can feel a little more at ease about your impact on the environment.
Here are a few simple changes to make your Christmas wonderful not only for you, but also for the planet.
Eat less meat
Throwing this in at number one because it is so important. Eating red meat is one of the worst ways we are impacting the environment, due to the large amounts of greenhouse gases given out, amount of land used (compared to growing crops) and a number of other factors. Cutting down on sausage, bacon and other red meats around christmas could not only decrease your environmental impact but also help reduce over indulgence – your heart will be happy! There are some amazing vegetarian options for parties, dinners and Christmas day itself – sometimes it’s nice to switch things up! If you can’t go meat-free this Christmas, choose organic, free range and local, where possible, and keep it to a minimum. Which leads us on to….
Eat wonky veg
Eating more veg is always a good thing, for your body, the environment and (if you buy locally), UK farmers. However, there is much more produced than ever makes it to our stores – products that are outside our narrow confines of ‘good looking products’ are discarded, leaving around a third of all the food we produce getting wasted before it even leaves the farm. Companies such as Oddbox tackle this by delivering perfectly good, but slightly misshapen, food directly to your door, meaning that both the farmers and the environment get a great deal! Check it out.
Avoid palm oil
Unfortunately, many ready-made vegan foods contain palm oil. Palm oil harvesting contributes to environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and the clearing of large amounts of rainforest. Where possible, make homemade food, but if it’s not possible, look for products without palm oil in – Iceland supermarket has pledged to reduce the amount of palm oil consumed this christmas in an industry first.
Around Christmas there is a lot of excess, which is often binned. However, there are hundreds of recipes out there specifically for using Christmas leftovers, so save some money, time and reduce your waste by trying your hand at some new recipes.
Toss out the tinsel
Metaphorically at least. If you have tinsel saved from previous years, by all means continue using it! However, many Christmas decorations are plastic based and retire huge amounts of energy to make. Avoid buying new decorations where possible – bringing out old favourites is much more fun! If you’ve got Christmas lights, choose LED if at all possible – these are much more eco-friendly and will save you money too! Foraging for your own decorations (holly, ivy etc) is plenty of fun to, and they smell lovely.
If you would like to have a christmas tree in your home, ensure you buy one with an FSC-certification logo, that ensures it’s grown in a way that’s sustainable and doesn’t cause environmental damage. If you’d like an artificial tree, look for a pre-loved one e.g. on eBay, freecycle, gumtree etc. and use it for many years. Alternatively, if neither of those float your boat, use one of your house plants that you already have and decorate it as you would a Christmas tree!
A whopping 1.5 BILLION Christmas cards get thrown out in the UK every year. Stop contributing to this by sending out e-cards instead. If you receive cards with your presents, send thank yous on the reverse of the front of the card, cutting off the part already written on. A nice way to show your appreciation for the present.
Wrapping paper is unfortunately almost by definition single use. Why not wrap up your presents in recycled newspaper, or check out these scarf wraps for a little more colour. Same goes for crackers – avoid crackers with plastic toys, and if you can live without them, do.
Be thoughtful with your gifts. People often feel the need to buy SOMETHING for their friends/family, which often ends up coming clutter later on. Other ideas for gifts include donating to a cause that the gift-ee is passionate about, whether that’s sponsoring a guide dog, donating money to fight environmental degradation or helping unprivileged children receive an education. A one off Freda bag or year’s subscription makes the perfect gift that is both useful and gives back – a proportion of profits are donated to UK-based period poverty initiatives. Alternatively, search for independent retailers/brands to support – often a nice change from the highstreet!
As you’re about to receive a plethora of new things, now is the time to get rid of the old. Rather than throwing them out, donate any old clothes and belongings to charity shops or initiatives to help those less privileged than us. From experience I can tell you it’s such a feel good activity!
I hope you found this article useful – please do share if you liked it!