How To Have a Sustainable Christmas
Do you want a sustainable Christmas this year?
This time of year can be very stressful. So much pressure to create a perfect Christmas. We are filled with ideals and prescriptive images of what Christmas should be like. But for most of us there is financial hardship, tiring shopping days, stress from thinking about what to buy and not just gifts, but the extra food we buy for this festive period.
What effect does Christmas have on the planet?
The most wonderful time of the year is, sadly, often the most wasteful, with much of the waste materials going to landfill, putting toxins into our soil and releasing harmful greenhouse gasses.
1. The UK creates 30% more waste than usual over the festive period
2. 23,000 tonnes of Christmas food is thrown away each year including millions of mince pies and unsold turkeys.
3. 6 million real Christmas trees are thrown away in the UK rather than being recycled.
4. 100 million black bags of UK rubbish will be landfilled.
5. 277,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away – enough to stretch to the moon (238,855 miles away).
What effect does Christmas have on our wellbeing?
Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. ... with high expectations, or at least perceived expectations, to create a 'wonderful Christmas'. Some people rate Christmas as being more stressful than divorce. We get over tired and overwhelmed, both emotionally and financially. However by having a more sustainable Christmas and acting more eco-friendly can improve mental health.
10 tips for a more sustainable Christmas
1. Buy less: Choose quality over quantity.
2. Buy something unusual, like plants or a subscription to The Woodland Trust
5. Use recyclable craft paper or fabric for wrapping. Most commercial wrapping is not for recycling.
6. Don't send Christmas cards, why not email, WhatsApp or call your friends and family?
7. Swap to LED Christmas lights and use less energy.
8. Choose a real tree, preferably one with roots so you can plant for next year. Or buy a second-hand false one.
9. Make a festive food menu and only buy enough for those meals. We waste tonnes of food over this period. Try cutting down on meat to help reduce greenhouse gasses.
10. Make your own decorations. Involve the family and get creating.
What is an Ethical Gift?
Shopping ethically is not always easy as many larger companies are "green washing" . This makes it harder to find authenticity. One good way to shop ethical is by visiting an event, like Zero Waste Goods or vegan markets.
Find independent brands who offer more transparency. Fferal are an ethical company who only work with factories in Portugal who pay a living wage and have environmental policies. Ethical brands take into account the environment, fare wage, quality, recyclability, and animal welfare. Plastic and packaging is used to a minimum. At Fferal we do not use swing tags or labels, our packaging is only a recycled mailer and we are a Peta Approved Vegan Clothing company.
Why not check out your local Oxfam shop too, they offer a variety of ethical gifts that help sustain small villages all over the world. Search for pre loved sites now that the stigma of second hand has all but diminished. Buy recycled homewares, reusable coffee cups or water bottles. Alternatively make a donation in someones name or buy an experience or a subscription.
A Green Christmas
More people than ever want to have an eco-friendly Christmas, and brands are listening. For example, John Lewis and Waitrose are not selling crackers with plastic toys, Iceland took a stand against palm oil last year, which it announced through its banned advert with Greenpeace.
Don't overindulge this year on presents or food, it will empower you! Make sure you get outside don't veg in front of the TV after Christmas dinner. A study by The Wildlife Trust suggests that an hour a day spent playing in nature is incredibly beneficial for children’s well-being, it opens up human creativity just to look at a tree.
So have yourself a wonderful Green Sustainable Christmas and enjoy...
Photography credits: chrisbunce.co.uk