You may have swapped out your plastic water bottle for a reusable number and your plastic carrier bags for a few totes, but it’s easy forget the sustainable hacks you’ve adopted over the last couple of years when you’re caught up in the festive fluster. To help you stay on track, we’ve rounded up eight simple tricks to help you reduce, reuse and recycle this Christmas.
Get creative and make your own Christmas decorations
Before you start panicking, it’s easier than you think! If, like me, you’re slacking on the christmas decoration front this year, rather than rushing out to your local pound store to snatch up the last few remaining festive decorations, get crafty and make your own.
It can be as simple as foraging in your garden or local park, hunting down acorns, pinecones and festive foliage to make a rustic centrepiece for the dining table or grabbing some wire and trying your hand at making your own wreath. I’ve recently ordered some air drying clay and will be attempting to make some dainty stars and Christmas tree shapes to hang with a bit of ribbon on the tree. These activities are also great to try out with the kids too.
Biscuiteers do a great DIY bauble kit, meaning you can decorate the tree with biscuits and enjoy the evidence too. There are also great bauble kits on Etsy too, including this punch needle kit or grab these ready-made clay stars. All that’s left to do is pop on the Christmas tunes, whack out the crafting kits and get creative with your own little helpers.
Look for an alternative to the usual artificial tree
I’m not saying chuck the artificial tree that you’ve already got. Make the most out of it for as long as possible rather than ditching it for a newer model. But for those who love the fresh fragrance of a traditional pine, make sure to do your research.
It’s estimated that around eight million Christmas trees are bought in the UK each year and majority of the time, they end up at your local landfill site or rotting at the back of your garden. Instead look into different ways that are more sustainably friendly. For example, London Christmas Tree Rental lets you pick out and rent a tree, before returning it to be enjoyed for another season. Right now, they’re all sold out but do encourage Londoners to email in as they may have cancellation spots.
Potted trees are also great alternatives to your usual sawed off tree. These will need a little TLC and watering, but you can then repot them in your garden once the festive season ends and can be enjoyed all year round before you dig it up for next year. There are also a few great alternative trees too; look to places like Not On The High Street for some examples.
Swap to recycled paper or fabrics
As much as the sparkly designed paper may look pretty under the tree, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recycle the paper after use. Swap to recycled paper and jute twine. You can still make the presents just as perfect by using the twine as a ribbon and swapping out the Sellotape too. Or, do away with the paper altogether and wrap your gifts with old fabric or scarves; the scarves can double up as a gift too. Add a sprig of holly, mistletoe or festive foliage and it’ll look just as cute, if not cuter, than the usual sparkly gifts under the tree.
Look to sustainability experts Onolla for eco gift wrapping expertise. The health and beauty concept store, based in Barnes, is home to beautiful products, self-care collections and seasonal gifts. And the best part? All of their gift wrapping is sustainable too, not to mention beautiful. They use stylish compostable, biodegradable and reusable paper and their own Indian cotton ribbons dyed locally using vegetable dyes. Treat someone you love to a gift from their store and the unwrapping itself is just as enjoyable as the gift. They’ll also be at the Barnes Christmas Fair on Friday 10th December!
Cosy up the dinner table
In terms of table settings, you’ve got plenty of options. For a real countryside vibe, head out and forage for mistletoe, holly or even cut off excess pine from your Christmas tree, and make your own DIY rustic centrepiece. No festive table top is complete without place cards, so grab some recycled card and put your calligraphy skills to the test and rustle up your own.
We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to create winning Insta-worthy festive table tops every time.
Switch to more environmentally friendly crackers
Let’s face it, the usual tat filled Christmas crackers are rather pointless. Nobody really wants that miniature doll’s comb and the yoyo certainly doesn’t make it past the five minutes of dining table entertainment. This Christmas either do without the Christmas crackers or, if you really want the pleasure of hearing the crackle pull, the least you can do is switch to some more environmentally friendly crackers.
We absolutely love this fresh new take from FOREVER CRACKERS, the home of beautifully finished reusable crackers. Choose from their array of fabric designs and pick your favourite cracker gifts, from crystals to miniature pick me up alcoholic beverages. Once used, you can reuse them time and time again.
Cut down on food waste
Christmas seems to naturally come with a season of indulgence. Sadly it’s estimated 270,000 tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year and despite efforts, it’s only rising. Selection boxes adorn every shelf, bakeries throw in some cranberries to their best selling products and we’ll admit we’re already picturing the piles of roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puds that we’re planning to topple onto our plates come Christmas Day. But, if you do have leftovers lurking in the kitchen, don’t bin them! Rustle up a scrummy bubble and squeak with all of your leftovers the next day, try your hand at a trusty turkey curry, or even take them round to your neighbour to add a little festive sparkle to their day. Food banks are always in need of extra supplies over the Christmas period so grab your excess tins and packets you overbought on your food shop.
Mix up the usual Christmas card situ
Forgo the dreaded journey to the Card Factory this Christmas and send some more eco friendly gifting cards instead. These festive cards from EcoVibe contain a pack of wildflower seeds which each recipient can then plant and enjoy long after Christmas is truly over, plus the designs are super cute. Wildflower Favours also do some cute designed cards made using eco-friendly seed paper and they are entirely plastic free, bonus.
Think carefully about the gifts you’re giving
It’s easy to fall into a gifting trap when it comes to the Christmas crunch point, but you can gift sustainably if you think carefully about what you’re after. If you’ve got a little extra time on your hands at the moment and fancy getting creative, why not try your hand at making gifts? From baking sweet treats to hand making your own soaps, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
Regifting is also totally fine! If you’ve received something previously that you no longer use or need, gift it to someone who will give it a new lease of life.
Rather than overloading on the plastic this Christmas, buy eco friendly products instead. Ditch the plastic and paper straws and enjoy your festive tipple through one of these adorable drinking straws, or instead of ordering a take out, wrap up your lunch in one of these bento boxes.
For those looking to treat a loved one to something extra special, try Rêve en Vert, an online platform for sustainable living. Shop everything from organic beauty products to staple ethical clothing pieces. London ethical brand Saint & Sofia is also another clothing brand that puts sustainability at the forefront of its brand.