Christmas may be a time of great celebration and indulgence, but it’s also the most wasteful time of year.
According to the latest Christmas waste statistics, we bin some 1 billion Christmas cards every year, throw out 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper, accumulate 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste, and get rid of six million trees to create over 9,000 tonnes of extra waste at Christmas.
The same study uncovered a staggering amount of food waste too, with tonnes of meat cooked and 4,200 tonnes of foil used to wrap our beloved Christmas turkeys thrown in the bin also!
In the spirit of living more sustainably and enjoying the festive season in all its glory, we thought we’d share our top tips for having an ethical Christmas this year.
Here we provide great, green solutions for everything from your advent calendar, tree, and decorations to your Christmas dinner, presents, and gift wrap.
Counting down to Christmas
The 1st of December marks the start of a very exciting Christmas tradition and one that fills both children and adults alike with untold joy. The advent calendar is the only way to countdown to Christmas day, but they do represent a very wasteful problem.
Most advent calendars are cheap enough to buy, enjoy and throw away once your countdown has come to an end.
Despite their novel look, single-use advent calendars are difficult to recycle and particularly unsustainable as a result.
By swapping your usual, single-use calendar for a reusable alternative and filling it with your own special treats, you can pave the way for many more ethical Christmases and indulge yourself or your loved ones.
If you like the surprise element of a single-use calendar, be picky about the products you choose.
The contents of these vegan food and beauty advent calendars are healthy and interesting options, with many using recyclable packaging to create the calendar itself.
Top treats for those special people
Christmas is a time of giving, and what better way to show someone you care than with a thoughtful gift.
To go completely ethical with your gift choice, why not do away with Christmas gifts in the traditional sense?
Pledge to give your time – you could cook their favourite dinner or take care of their children! – or make a donation to a charity they love on their behalf.
If you’d prefer to give a physical gift, choose an ethical Christmas present with a conscience. There are tons of sustainability initiatives, green businesses, and social enterprises that provide special gifts that your nearest and dearest will love, and safeguard the planet.
When preparing your gift, be mindful about wrapping too. Instead of using wrapping paper that will be thrown away as soon as it’s ripped off, use alternatives that can be used again, such as tote bags and containers. Old newspapers and magazines also make quirky and recyclable gift wrap.
Deck the halls – the eco way
Going natural with your tree choice may seem more wasteful than opting for an artificial tree that can be used time and time again.
But as these artificial trees contain harmful plastics and chemicals that damage the environment and take years to degrade in landfill, going real is certainly the better, more ethical option.
When choosing a real tree, always source an organic tree locally. This will reduce your carbon footprint, lower pesticide use, and support natural habitats.
Once you’ve sourced a sustainably grown tree, get the whole family involved in some festive craft. As well as being a fun way to ring in the festive season, you’ll create unique, personalised decorations that you’ll treasure for years to come.
A festive feast with a difference
A staple part of any Christmas day is sitting down as a family to enjoy a slap-up meal, and thankfully, you can take the ethical route when sourcing produce for the most anticipated lunch of the year.
By shopping local for your Christmas produce, you can avoid the last minute rush through busy supermarket aisles, enjoy better quality produce and know exactly where your food comes from.
Those having turkey for lunch should shop local for a free range or organic bird to ensure higher welfare standards.
Going meat free with one part of your Christmas meal will lower your carbon footprint too, and it’s easier and tastier than ever to enjoy vegetarian or vegan food. Our satisfyingly sweet vegan desserts are an easy, ethical way to indulge if you have any room left after lunch.
Be savvy with your Christmas lunch leftovers too, by planning meals that use the food that you couldn’t polish off on Christmas day.
Even that leftover Christmas pudding can be reinvented and enjoyed as Delicious explains:
“Mix your pudding with shop-bought ginger ice cream for a speedy dessert that you can freeze and eat at a later date. Paul A Young created this incredible caramel sauce, with leftover Christmas pudding, and we all went weak at the knees. Make these pancakes, served with leftover brandy butter, for your Boxing Day breakfast.”