How to enjoy an eco-friendly Christmas

Christmas is a time of excess in every way. From electricity usage to presents galore, an overload of food, packaging and energy. The festive season takes its toll on the environment, as well as our bodies and bank accounts.

It’s a time of fun, laughter and love. If we’re a little more aware, we can have a lovely time whilst being more mindful of the resources we are using.

With a little effort and imagination you can have a eco-friendly Christmas.

Everything from the decorations to the food can be made a little more green. But how? What’s the best option for a Christmas tree?

What do you buy someone who’s environmentally friendly? What about cards and wrapping paper?

How do you best deal with food leftovers so they don’t become food waste?

We’ve got the answers to all these questions and more!

Deck the Halls with Recycled Decorations

When decorating your home for Christmas, use the decorations that you already have. Or, buy ones made from recycled materials or from craft fairs to ensure they will last for years to come.

There are lots of eco-friendly Christmas decorations on the market now. For example, you can buy stockings and bunting made from recycled sari fabric. Etsy is a great place to look for more unique decorations.

Instead of buying store-bought advent calendars, buy or make a fabric or wooden one. You can then fill it up with little gifts that you choose, year after year.

If you don’t fancy making your own, you can buy them ready made so you can still fill with your own goodies.

Skip the disposables and use fabric napkins and tablecloths that can be washed and used again.

To save electricity, use fewer lights and make sure you use LED lights. Put your lights on a timer so they can turn off automatically at a certain time.

Remember, if you’re all congregated in the kitchen, to make sure the lights and TV are off in the living room!

Is It Environmentally Friendly to Have a Real Christmas Tree?

Although artificial trees are reusable, they do use resources for manufacture and shipping. If you are interested in one, check out Gumtree, eBay or Freegle for a pre-loved tree.

Real trees are a preferred eco-friendly Christmas tree option as they are better for the environment. Try to buy a potted one that will have an extended life rather than being thrown away after the holiday. You can even rent Christmas trees online.

For an alternative tree, decorate a potted plant or spray a bunch of twigs and hang decorations from them.

With so many of us enjoying our gardens more than ever, consider keeping your old real Christmas Tree and using it to make wildlife shelters in your garden: either trim the smaller twigs to the same length and tie them into a bundle for hanging in hedging for bugs to hide in.

Or chop the trunk and branches into pieces and stack them in small piles around the garden to create a small refuge for wildlife – it’ll be amazing how many different insects this will attract, and it will improve the ecosystem in your garden.

Remember – artificial or real Christmas trees will not be collected from the kerbside by Perth and Kinross Council refuse collection. The best way to dispose of a real tree is to cut it up into chunks and put it in your green bin.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Cards and Wrapping Paper

Get crafty and make your own eco friendly Christmas cards or wrapping paper. Store-bought cards consume a vast amount of resources and will be thrown away within a few weeks at most.

Homemade Christmas cards are thoughtful, personal and fun, and are appreciated even more.

E-cards are becoming much more the norm these days, so you can send your Christmas spirit online instead of using paper.

An increasing trend on social media is to send a small donation to charity instead of sending a card. Or, reconnect with loved ones by making a festive phone call!

Recycle as much as possible. Reuse old wrapping paper again, or buy recycled wrapping paper. Old comics, magazines or calendars also make great wrapping paper.

Last year’s cards can be cut up to make festive postcards or gift tags. Or forget the gift tags all together and write straight onto the paper.

What Should I Get My Eco Friendly Friend?

Whilst some gifts need to be bought new, there is no point in spending silly money on presents that won’t be used. Gifts are meant to be thoughtful.

Think about making something homemade that you know the recipient will love.

Or visit local craft fairs, boutiques, farmer’s markets or family run businesses. These are great for recycled or ethical gifts, and you can ask where they were made or came from.

A great idea to save on money and unwanted presents is to have a Secret Santa between friends or family members. Write down everyone’s name and place it in a hat.

One by one you can pick out a name and this will be your recipient. Who picked who should be kept a secret and you can put all the presents in a pile so there is still an element of surprise.

Establish a budget so that everyone will spend around the same amount. This way, everyone gives and receives one special present. No more stressing about buying good presents for everyone!

Festive Food – Watch the Waste

Most people make the mistake of buying too much food over Christmas. Then they either stuff themselves to prevent waste, or throw a lot of it away.

Write a practical list of everything you need before you shop.

○ Try to shop locally, and choose seasonal produce (that includes Brussel Sprouts!)
○ Don’t buy items just because they’re traditional if no one actually enjoys them
○ Make space in your freezer for leftovers, or get creative and turn them into something else
○ Offer guests a doggy bag as they go home, so everyone can enjoy using up the leftovers
○ And don’t forget to follow this month’s Jamie Cooks Cheats recipe for leftover turkey curry!

Spreading the Eco Festive Joy

Part of having an eco-friendly Christmas is talking about your ambitions. Talking openly to friends and family can help to normalise things and make them seem less unusual.

If you’re hosting, let everyone know that you’re avoiding enough food to feed an army. Instead, you’ll be catering for the numbers you have and that’s it. Try to discourage everyone from bringing extra food and drink unless you’ve agreed to share the load.

Some of us like to avoid giving excessive gifts. If that’s you, let everyone that’s likely to buy you a gift know not to go overboard for you.

You might inspire others to do the same, or at least think about it next year.

At Christmas time, we’re bombarded with adverts and twinkly lights enticing us in to buy things.

We all like to have a good time and enjoy nice things. But we don’t need as many things as we’re told we do. And we certainly don’t need to buy new decorations and tableware each year to fit in with a fashionable theme!

It’s easy to have an eco-friendly Christmas with just a little extra thought. You can still have a fabulous time whilst being mindful of the environment.

Merry Christmas!