Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Christmas is traditionally a time of indulgence and excess, and the Christmas season now lasts for a few months rather than a few weeks. When you stop and think about it, the Christmas period is actually quite bad for the environment. There’s the metres of wrapping paper, hundreds of plastic decorations and the poor old tree, dug up in its prime and discarded at New Year!
There are actually a lot of ways you can make your Christmas more eco-friendly, and a lot of them don’t need a lot of extra effort or money.
Cards and Wrapping Paper
Although the popularity of social media and email means that we don’t send as many cards as we used to, Christmas cards still contribute a huge amount to landfill. The same goes for wrapping paper, and both cards and wrap take a large number of years to break down and decompose.
What can I do?
If you still want to go with shop bought options, look out for products already made from recycled materials. Also, check carefully that the new products can be recycled, especially if they are metallic or have lots of glitter.
Making your own cards and wrapping paper can be a great activity for all the family to get involved in. There’s lots of options, such as printing onto brown paper or re-using old paper or cards to collage onto new ones. Shops such as Hobbycraft and The Works offer plain cards and envelopes to use as a base.
What kind of tree do you put up at Christmas? Unfortunately it’s a bit of a lose-lose situation all round. Whilst an artificial tree may seem like a good idea because you can use it again and again, the manufacturing process is fairly inefficient and the tree usually can’t be recycled. A real tree might look and smell more festive, your tree may not have come from a sustainable source and you’ll be creating landfill when you dispose of it.
What can I do?
If you have a real tree, make sure that it’s recycled when you’re finished with it. Most local councils do offer a pick up service so check when the official collection dates are, it’s usually after the New Year. Remove all decorations and chop up any large branches to make it easier to transport.
If you’re fed up with your artificial tree, give it to family or friends or donate it to a worthy cause. Lots of local organisations such as care homes or schools will gladly take it off your hands, or look out for charity grottos or fayres that will need lots of decorations.
Like artificial trees, many Christmas decorations are made quite inefficiently and contain high levels of plastic and other non-recyclable materials. They can also work out to be quite energy intensive, especially fairy lights.
What can I do?
Whilst you might not be able to face displaying the delightful decorations that your child has hand made at school or nursery, making your own decorations is a good option. Go on a woodland walk and look out for foliage that you can use to decorate your home, with holly and ivy being popular options. Make sure that whatever you pick is safe to have in your home though.
If you’re replacing your fairy lights, look for LED bulbs rather than the standard ones. They will last longer, use less energy and also don’t get hot when you use them. They can be more expensive upfront but you won’t need to replace them as quickly.
Having an eco-friendly Christmas doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on style or substance. It’s about making a few tweaks to your plans before and after Christmas, so that you can enjoy yourself with a clearer conscience!
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