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Polly Angelova2 min

How to have a sustainable Christmas

For the festive season, try these eco-friendly ideas

by Polly Angelova   Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts  — Janice Maeditere  

An old pine is fine

Christmas trees are, unsurprisingly, the biggest focus of sustainability during the holidays. Instead of picking up a freshly-chopped evergreen, turn towards renting one from a scheme like Rental Claus (rentalclaus.com), or at least invest in a potted pine you can reuse for years to come.  If you’re set on going traditional, make sure the tree you buy is FSC-certified, and it comes from a responsibly managed forest. Once the festive season is over, hand the spruce over to your council for recycling – they’ll turn the trees into chippings, cutting down carbon footprint by 80% compared to landfill disposal.  Opting for a plastic tree is the least desirable option, with them having twice the footprint of the real deal. That being said, if you have one, definitely make use of it as long as you can.  

Gifts for the planet

It’s no secret that problematic consumerist trends hit their peak around Christmas. This year, become part of the solution by shopping for second-hand finds, or even regifting things you don’t want. If you’re more on the crafty side, you can also make your own gifts for friends and family – not only is that good for the planet, but it also adds a special personal touch to the tradition.  When it comes to wrapping paper and cards, you should also go sustainable. Keep things simple with recyclable brown paper, avoiding the unnecessary bells and whistles of ‘dedicated’ holiday packaging. Same goes for cards – invest in glitter-free, FSC-certified ones, and recycle any you receive! 1 Tree Cards (1treecards.com) sells 100% recycled, vegan ink cards made with renewable energy, and plants a tree for every card sold.   

Be sparing on the food shop

Food waste is another big problem around the holidays. Keep your impact to a minimum by making a list before you go shopping, and aiming to buy local where possible. Don’t be a stickler for tradition either – if no one likes the sprouts, don’t bother buying them.  Cutting down the meat can also be great for sustainability – either go fully plant-based with vegan twists on your favourite recipes, or at least shop organic, free-range meat from local farmers. Avoid throwing away mountains of leftovers by planning the portions well, making room for leftovers in your freezer, and whipping up something fun with what you’ve got left the next day. Still have too much food left? Send some home with your guests, or use the app Olio (olioapp.com/en/) to share with neighbours.

Polly Angelova