Living an eco-friendly lifestyle can be quite a challenge, especially at Christmas time. In the UK alone, we produce around 30% more rubbish during the holiday season. Here are some ideas we’ve put together on how to have a more ethical, environmentally conscious time this festive season.
With our binge-shopping culture, gifts are one of the largest sources of waste around Christmas time. That’s why many Christmas shoppers are now opting for environmentally conscious gifts. Here are some of our favourite planet-friendly gift ideas:
Reusable items make great eco-friendly gifts and will help the lucky recipient cut down on plastic waste in the future too! There’s a huge variety of products out there to suit every taste. Look out for reusable water bottles, coffee cups, lunch boxes, straws and food wraps in all the major stores.
Buying an experience for someone makes an excellent gift with very little wastage! It could be tickets to a concert, a trip away or simply vouchers for a meal out at a favourite restaurant.
Plants are perhaps the greenest gift of all! House plants help to absorb CO2 emissions and make beautiful presents. For the less experienced gardeners in your life, try succulents or cacti which are fairly easy to take care of. Alternatively, put together a mix of wildflower seeds to save the bees. So-called ‘seed bombs’ make fantastic stocking fillers. The Kabloom Beebom is a great option with 10% of profits going to The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity that helps bumblebees thrive in the wild and prevents them from dying out.
A homemade present is always a wonderful way to reduce waste at Christmas time. Whether it’s knitting, art, or home baking, a homemade Christmas present will be sure to go down a treat.
Get creative with wrapping
Wrapping paper is a huge cause of unnecessary wastage. You might think it’s recyclable since it’s made of paper, but this often isn’t the case. Lots of wrapping paper has dyes, glitter, and other things that make it non-recyclable. As a result, more than 227,000 miles of wrapping paper ends up in landfills in the UK alone every year!
Luckily, there are lots of sustainable alternatives to wrap that special gift. These eco-friendly options are just as eye-catching, but not nearly as harmful to the environment.
Recycled Brown Paper
Recycled brown paper is not only better for the environment but the wallet too! You can get a large roll of it for only a few pounds. It provides a simple, clean look which can be tailored to your own taste with stamps, pens, or biodegradable decorations.
Everyone loves a traditional fabric stocking filled with goodies. Vintage silk scarves also make beautiful wrapping, plus they can be kept as an extra present to be worn or re-used as wrapping again. Buying second-hand from vintage and charity shops is very eco-friendly. Tie a scarf elegantly around a parcel with a bow so you’ll save on plastic tape too.
Wrapping paper doesn’t have to be single-use! Save pieces without tape or rips to use again and reduce how much ends up in the landfill. You can even have a go at ironing out any creases to make it like brand new again. Lay a towel or t-shirt over the paper and iron over it.
Family, Friends and Food
Gifts and wrapping aside, what people truly enjoy most about Christmas is spending time with friends and family, and sharing food together. However, many people in Britain admit to overspending on food. We waste a whopping 7 million tonnes of food each year in the UK. At Christmas time, this includes 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and a staggering 74 million mince pies. Here are some ways to make sure you’re not part of the country’s Christmas food waste problem.
The best way to avoid food waste is to only buy what you need. It can be tempting to take advantage of multibuy offers and bulk savings. However, it’s only a bargain if you actually need it!
Cut Down on Meat
One of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact is to eat less meat. Lots of us love our turkey on Christmas Day, but millions of us end up throwing at least some of it away. If you don’t want to cut out meat altogether, consider buying a smaller turkey or getting a turkey crown instead of a whole bird.
Leftovers from Christmas dinner can be used for delicious meals in the days to come. There are lots of creative recipes you can use to avoid monotony too! For instance, traditional Boxing Day bubble and squeak, a turkey sandwich, or a vegetable soup – there’s no need to throw your leftovers out!
Local Community Fridges are a simple way for communities and local businesses to share food that would otherwise go to waste. Find your nearest Community Fridge here and use it to share the spare food you have leftover at Christmas.
If there are any leftovers that you haven’t even opened – especially canned goods – donate them to a local food bank. This year, the demand for food parcels has skyrocketed and is continuing to grow. Make a difference in your local community and reduce your food waste in one go.
Olio is an app which connects neighbours with each other to share surplus food which cannot be used. It’s really easy to use, you simply open the app and add a photo of the food you’d like to give away. Someone will then contact you and you can arrange a time and place for them to pick-up the food.
So don’t throw away those mince pies – get sharing with your neighbours at your local Community Fridge or on Olio this Christmas!
Have a Safe and Happy Christmas
Why not give the gift of independence this Christmas and purchase a Careline alarm for someone you love? Our life-saving system helps thousands of people up and down the UK to stay safe in their homes with total peace of mind. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 101 3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
All Careline alarm users receive 24/7 support and monitoring, 365 days a year. With just the touch of a button, you can call for assistance in an emergency and know that help is on the way. For more information, or to order your Careline alarm, click here.
Note: we updated this article on 18/12/20. It was first published on 20/12/19.