Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones, getting into the festive spirit, and having the occasional argument with a distant, problematic family member over the roast turkey. But let’s be honest, Christmas has also become a bit consumerism led. And when you’re having a good time, sustainability and environmentalism at Christmas tend to go left at the wayside.
It’s easy to end up giving into fast fashion and ordering your fourth new outfit for the Christmas party season, or perhaps giving up on the recycling when you’re ripping into at a pile of presents, half of which you might never use. While we’re enjoying this season, let’s not forget the strain this one day can have on our planet.
According to the packaging company GWP Group, 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will be discarded over Christmas. Around 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bin after Christmas day, and 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will be thrown out or burnt. Just because it’s a time of holiday cheer that doesn’t mean you have to throw the future of the planet in the bin along with the leftovers. So, here are some tips and tricks on how to have a more sustainable Christmas:
The real versus fake Christmas tree debate is a tricky one. As Bustle has previously reported, a two-metre artificial Christmas tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions due to the way in which it is manufactured (fake trees are most often made from plastic). That is more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill and more than ten times that of a real tree that is burnt.
However, real Christmas trees also have their problems. Pine trees are cut down purely for a few weeks before being thrown away. In fact, 6 million trees are thrown out after Christmas, creating more than 9,000 tonnes of waste.
If you have a reusable tree, keep using it. If you don't, it may be time to consider other options. For example, you could decorate an existing house plant?
If you do end up getting a real tree, make sure it’s properly collected and recycled.
During Christmas, there’s lots of presents, which means even more wrapping paper. This year, perhaps you can use reusable fabric wrapping paper.
Due to surplus food and decorations, there’s generally lots of packaging waste as well at this time of year. Try not to be slack with the recycling just because it's Christmas. Find out how you to recycle items like Christmas lights and where you can donate presents you don't fancy keeping.
Christmas can get a bit overindulgent. In fact, around 6,711 tonnes of fresh turkey, and 12,472 tonnes of frozen turkey will be cooked during this period. And food waste is a big problem, with one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption being lost or wasted yearly. So why not come up with some imaginative leftover recipes, like turkey and cranberry spring rolls, for example?
Not only can this time of year be a bit of a financial burden, but it can also produce waste through unwanted gifts. So why not consider buying second-hand gifts for family or friends? Or instead of purchasing lots of presents, consider doing a secret Santa. That way, you’ll only need to purchase one well-thought-out present and only receive one too. Or you can even go that one step further and go present free and maybe treat your loved ones to an experience rather than a tangible item.
Why not try out some eco-friendly alternatives to beloved Christmas faves? Did you know not all Christmas crackers can be recycled? And let’s not forget the toy that usually ends up getting thrown away with the leftovers. You can now get eco-friendly Christmas crackers.