Let’s face it: no one really wants to think about their carbon footprint at Christmas – a time that is typically reserved for appreciating loved ones and taking a well-earned break. But with the mounting pressure of the climate crisis, it’s up to us to practise sustainable living no matter what time of year it is – and for many of us this will start at home. Changes that may seem small or insignificant can actually make all the difference in reducing our negative impact on the environment. This is especially true at Christmas, when the potential for waste, over-consumption and mass shopping is at an all time high.
In light of this, here are some simple yet effective ways to have an eco-friendly Christmas – from sending plantable Christmas cards to reusing paper and sourcing energy-efficient heating solutions. To make things a little more fun and festive, we’ve ordered them in the same format as the beloved ‘12 Days of Christmas’.
12 Reused Items
During the Christmas period, think about everything you’re using and consider whether or not it can be repurposed before you bin it. A great example of this is using Christmas cracker tubes to make festive bunting or ‘paper’ chains.
11 Plantable Christmas Cards
Sending Christmas cards has fallen out of fashion since loved ones have been contactable at the click of a button. However, for those who still enjoy the sentimental value of Christmas cards, there are still ways to send seasonal greetings without negatively affecting the planet. Cards with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark generally guarantees that the paper has been produced ethically. Plantable cards are also a fun and sustainable option – Not on the High Street and Wildflower Papers both stock beautifully illustrated cards that contain seeds which can be sowed when spring rolls around.
Always remember to recycle or compost your cards after Christmas!
10 Empty Food Bins
A lot of us are pretty adept at getting creative with our leftovers generally, but when it comes to Christmas we tend to be a little more lenient with our waste. One option is to simply buy less, but this can be challenging when you have guests staying round. Food sharing apps such as Olio are a wiser choice. The point of these apps is to connect you with people in need in your area. All you have to do is list what food is available, take a picture and share your location so that other app users can contact you. Try and make use of your compost and green waste bins for food scraps too.
9 Clever Decorations
Some of the best Christmas decorations are family heirlooms that have been passed down through the years – making them automatically sustainable. But if you’d like to add to your collection, try Etsy or another independent online market where you will find decorations crafted from sustainable materials. If you’re feeling creative, you could even make your own wreath using paper and twine.
8 Rolls of Recycled Wrapping Paper
In the UK, consumers get through approximately 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year. Though in recent years many of us have made a concerted effort to be sparing with our wrapping and even reuse last year’s paper, what you might not realise is how many rolls contain non-recyclable materials such as foil, glitter or plastic.
Instead, opt for recycled wrapping paper, which these days can be found in high street retailers such as Paperchase and WHSmith. You could even try wrapping presents with fabric or newspaper instead, both of which can be used over and over again.
7 Organic Tipples
Just because you’re trying to be environmentally conscious, doesn’t mean you should pass up on a festive drink. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of organic wine to choose from, with the UK market doubling in 2022. Vintage Roots stocks a vast selection of organic wines, beers, ciders and spirits that are cracking for cracking out around the festive season, and even make the perfect gift.
6 Rethought Outfits
Although it can be tough to resist the urge to treat yourself to something sequin-clad over Christmas and New Years, what you might not realise is that sequins are made from PVC and there are absolutely no biodegradable substitutes. Try and invest in pieces made from sustainable materials when possible, or even try a clothes swapping app such as Depop or Vinted for some pre-loved sparkles.
5 LED Strings!
If every household in the UK switched out a string of incandescent lights for an LED alternative, we as a nation would save over £11 million and a whopping 29,000 tonnes of CO2 – and that’s just over the 12 days of Christmas!
LED lights are a far more sustainable indoor Christmas decoration choice as they use up to 80% less energy. What’s more, you could opt for solar powered lights outside and set a timer for them. You’ll not only be making an environmentally friendly choice, but you’ll also be saving on your energy bills as well.
4 Sustainable Gifts
A well-intentioned gift can fall flat if we aren’t aware of the environmental impact of what we are adding to our shopping baskets. Third-party certification is a surefire way of determining whether an item is considered environmentally friendly or not, so keep an eye out for reputable logos such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) or Palm Oil Free. Check out Protect the Planet and The Ethical Superstore for some fun, ethical gift ideas.
3 Moments of Gratitude
It can sometimes be easy to get wrapped up in the materialism of Christmas – we’ve all been guilty of it from time to time! But it is important to ask yourself what’s really important at this time of year. Is it the gifts, the excess of food, the decorations and sparkly outfits? Or, is it about spending time with loved ones, reflecting on the year gone by, as well as the year to come, and being grateful for what you have?
2 Handy Smart Metres
Did you know that if every single household in the UK was to get a smart metre right now, up to 11% of the Government’s net-zero carbon emissions target would be fulfilled by 2050? With Christmas being a time for heavy energy consumption, it’s high time for UK homeowners to change their ways. Smart metres are not only a clever way to help individuals combat climate change, but they can even help you save substantially on your energy bills – if used properly, you could be saving around £450! If investing in a smart metre is out of your budget, energy management services such as UK Energy Management are helping eligible households to apply for heating funding, which includes the supply of smart controls by Drayton. This is an invaluable service that offers low-income households the opportunity to take charge of their energy usage.
And 1 Rented Christmas Tree!
Looking for the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree option? As a general rule, real Christmas trees are far more sustainable than artificial alternatives. In fact, one study concluded that you’d have to reuse your fake fir tree for 20 years in order for it to be considered green. That being said, millions of real trees are dumped each January rather than recycled.
This year, you could go one further with your sustainable tree choice by renting a real tree from a British farm. There are numerous schemes that will deliver a real fir tree to your door for a reasonable cost. You can decorate and care for the tree as you please throughout the festive season before it’s picked up and replanted come January. To find a Christmas tree rental scheme near you, Country Living has a handy guide.
If you do choose to buy a tree outright, be sure that it’s recycled when you’re done with it. Head to Recycle Now to find out about drop-off points in your area, where your tree will be recycled into chippings for local parks and woodland areas. Alternatively, you can take it to your local dump where you can put it in the green waste bin, or even chop it up and stack the wood in your garden to create a natural habitat for birds and insects.
Go Green this Christmas
The mounting energy crisis means that this Christmas will be a fraught time for thousands of households nationwide. At UK Energy Management, we can’t prevent the energy crisis from happening, but we will certainly do our best to help soften the blow for struggling families across the country.
Find out if you’re eligible for Eco 4 Funding today by filling out our online form – it only takes a minute to complete and could save you hundreds of pounds on your energy bills this winter. There’s no catch to our service, and the best part is that we do all the hard work for you. We’ll not only organise the grant on your behalf, but we’ll also arrange a fitting for your new heating system at a time that suits you – all performed by accredited, reliable installers for your own peace of mind. For more information, contact us today.