Dreaming of a Green Christmas? Eco-friendly Christmas swaps for the festive season

This year we saw a greater focus on sustainability and a push for a more environmentally friendly future. With the UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland gathering world leaders alongside thousands of negotiators and government representatives to carry out negotiations and come to an agreement on how we will tackle climate change on a global scale.

An Eco-Friendly Christmas may not always rank highly on everyone’s list. You may be overwhelmed by so many extra considerations; From where you’ll be sitting down for your Christmas dinner, to what can you buy for the brother who has everything. It’s easy to forget our personal environmental responsibility and lose sight of the bigger picture. In fact over the festive period, on average the UK’s general waste increases by 25%, and we’re all at fault.

But there are several easy swaps you can make to reduce your carbon footprint this yuletide, and begin positive, new family traditions in the process! Here’s how you can have a more Eco-Friendly Christmas…

Real or Fake Christmas Trees: Which is more environmentally friendly?

We all know that deforestation can cause climate change, flooding and an increase in greenhouse gases. We also know that plastic is one of the biggest threats to our environment in recent years and with landfill sites bursting at the seams our oceans are becoming littered with plastic waste that has also found its way into the bodies of babies.

So do you go real or fake when it comes to the all-important Christmas tree?

A study conducted by Ellipsos on the environmental impact of real vs fake Christmas trees revealed that the differences are negligible, with both sides of the argument offering benefits and drawbacks in different areas.

However, if you find a real tree that has been grown specifically for Christmas and farmed responsibly in the UK you can offset the negative environmental impact. The Woodland Trust says that for every 1 Christmas tree that is cut down, up to 10 are replanted, and before being chopped down their absorption of CO2 will have a positive environmental impact.

Compared to an artificial tree that can only have a negative contribution to CO2 and is made from plastics that are not easily recycled. Another study concluded that an artificial tree would need to be used for over 20 years before it was even considered a potentially Eco-friendly Christmas option.

Over recent years there has been an increase in the demand and availability of potted Christmas trees, either for purchase or hire. Love a Christmas Tree offers real Nordmann Firs delivered to your door. But it’s worth keeping an eye out or searching locally if this is an option available to you for an Eco-Friendly Christmas.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping: What to use and look out for

We all enjoy the sight of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents sitting under the tree, it’s all part of the excitement and magic of Christmas. In fact, the average UK household uses four rolls of wrapping paper at Christmas, resulting in 227,000 miles of paper thrown into landfills. But when the big day arrives and there is wrapping torn or strewn across the floor, what do you do with it?

As a rule of thumb, anything covered in glitter or foil will not be recyclable. Thinner wrapping papers also pose a problem for recycling centres as they contain very few reusable fibres. Similarly, any paper that is dyed, laminated, or anything left with tape on cannot be recycled. So unless you’re cautiously looking for plain, thick, recyclable paper and an evening of removing Celotape from any scrunched up balls of paper the following swaps can make your life so much simpler and greener.

Furoshiki – Straight from Japan, this wrapping technique uses a cloth to wrap gifts. Which not only looks absolutely gorgeous and unique but can also be reused by either the gift giver or receiver. You can even add a more luxurious touch by using old silk scarves or pillowcases.

Avoid using tape – no one wants to spend the Christmas period pulling tape from wrapping paper. But how else do you secure those perfect triangular folds? We’ve all grown up with tape and paper as the standard wrapping technique. But there is an alternative just as simple. Fasten everything together with string or ribbon. The final presentation is beautiful and thoughtfully wrapped gifts under the tree, which are far more exciting to open. Bonus points if you can pinch some compostable twine from the garden potting shed!

Swap plastic bows and ribbons for foraged foliage – for those extra special gifts we all want to add a little extra something. Jumping onto this trend will do exactly that in a way that will surprise and delight all visitors. Tying in pinecones, fir branches (cut from that real tree) or even sneaking a dried clementine from that Christmas-scented potpourri bowl will create something delicately beautiful, sustainable, and utterly Instagram-able.

Consider the food you serve

Stop. Before you go on autopilot and place that Ocado order or are tempted by the selection of food available in your weekly Waitrose visit, consider the source and supporting your local farms and butchers.

Not only will you be helping your neighbours provide their families with a very merry Christmas, but you will also be reducing the amount of food that is imported to the UK from overseas at a huge expense to the environment. So for a more Eco-Friendly Christmas, shop at small businesses locally.

Give thoughtful, conscious gifts

Never underestimate the gift of time spent together, particularly after recent years where we have been kept apart. Book experiences that people can enjoy with their loved ones and make memories to hold onto if ever we’re apart again. Things like concert tickets, spa days or experiences can produce less waste and are something to look forward to, long after the thrill of receiving has passed.

Alternatively homemade biscuits, liqueurs or chutneys are back in flavour favour! Not only do these gifts feel more thoughtful and heartfelt, but these gifts can mean the world to someone you love and also may inspire them to return the favour. Who doesn’t love a Christmas biscuit with their tea?

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