'Tis the season to be jolly, but let's face, it has huge environmental implications - both from an over-consumption perspective and waste. But it doesn't need to fill you with eco-guilt, there's so many ways you can reduce your impact over the festive season.
But first, the scary stats.
We've all found ourselves in the awkward position of receiving a gift that leaves us questioning the thought behind it. And it seems we're not alone, as more than half of UK adults find themselves nodding in agreement. Astonishingly, 19% of these less-than-ideal gifts find themselves destined for the landfill (UKGVA). A further 33% of unwanted gifts are handed off to charity, while 20% end up tucked away, never to see the light of day again (as reported by the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association).
Additionally, 3 million tonnes of Christmas-related waste from decorations and wrapping paper inundate landfills annually, worsening environmental impact.
The repercussions of such gifting mishaps extend beyond just unwanted trinkets. Consider the statistics around our love of indulging over the festive season: four million Christmas dinners are thrown away, with the equivalent of 2 million turkeys wasted (Wildlife and Countryside).
But don’t lose hope, here are the ways you can bring the Merry back to Christmas:
1. Prioritise Quality over Quantity: Invest time in selecting a high-quality durable and useful item that lasts. This reduces waste and is cost-effective.
2. Gift Experiences: Create lasting memories with experiences that require fewer resources. Consider shows, homemade coupons, or a special day out. Remember gifts last a day, memories last forever.
3. Mindful Material Choices: Choose gifts and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified materials, and make sure to reuse those bottle-gift bags. Repurposing newspaper as wrapping paper can also make a gift stand out, things are trendier in monochrome (right?).
4. Minimise Food Waste: Plan meals thoughtfully to reduce waste this season. And if you don’t want to keep eating leftovers for days, you can donate it to the homeless (also sit down and have a chat with them, Christmas can be a lonely time).
5. Embrace Plant-Based Eating: Shift towards plant-based meals (or at least plant-based sides) to reduce waste and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The turkeys will thank you.
6. Mindful Table Setting: Opt for recyclable or DIY Christmas crackers. Use durable fabric alternatives to disposable tablecloths and napkins, these can be reused year after year.
7. Illuminate Responsibly: Use energy-efficient LED lights on your tree and remember to switch your Christmas lights off at night. LED also lasts longer so your tree can stay bright in the years to come.
8. Mind Your Christmas Tree: Opt for a reusable tree or a living tree to add to your houseplant collection. Dispose of it responsibly or consider renting one. You can also try a different type of tree, look on Etsy for wooden or structural trees which can still be decorated and look just as cool.
9. Deck your halls: Make your own biodegradable Christmas decorations and use roasted oranges and Cinnamon sticks bunched with string to make your home smell Christmassy.
So, as we revel in the spirit of Christmas, let's do our bit to lessen our impact and celebrate more consciously this season.
Remember, it's the thought that counts.