When Christmas time approaches, we often think that we have to scour the earth in search of the perfect gift for our loved ones. In this search, it can be easy to forget about the one we already have – planet Earth. Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year but to keep our Christmases going for years to come, we must begin to consider the festivity’s impact on our Earth.
There are many small changes we can all make during the festive period that will benefit our planet and our Christmas celebrations. Like many years before, most households will throw away the unrecyclable paper into the bins, but this can be easily changed. When buying your wrapping paper, check on the sleeve to see if the recyclable logo is present. If you have a roll from last year and you’re unsure, there is a test you can do: simply scrunch up the paper in your hand and if it stays scrunched, it is recyclable; but if it bounces back to its original shape in any way, it contains plastic within. Additionally, glitter does not biodegrade so avoid the sparkle and use more personal decorations instead. Why not tie your parcel up with string or twine for that rustic eco touch and skip the non-biodegradable ribbon? Parcels look extra special when decorated with holly, cinnamon, twigs and berries — a handmade touch using nature’s Christmassy creations. Or even use a scarf to wrap your gift in, to create a two-in-one present. To stay cost-effective, pop down to the local charity shop to find an exciting second-hand find and support a charity at Christmas too.
Another easy change every household could make this year is to switch from incandescent lights to LED lights. Incandescent bulbs emit light when the filament component is heated by electricity; however, LEDs emit light when current passes through them. This means that unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs use 80% less energy. By using LEDs, the UK could save £11,000,000 and use 29,000 tonnes less of CO2. Furthermore, setting your outdoor Christmas lights on timers allows you to save money and the planet at the same time.
Alongside switching to plastic-free paper, another way to reduce your plastic output this Christmas is to be crafty and creative. Instead of buying a plastic wreath, perhaps you could consider making your own! This is very easy to do and has no waste. Most gardens and parks have enough of nature’s bits and bobs to create a colourful wreath. Be on the look-out for foliage, berries and twigs and for an additional pop of colour, dry out some oranges. Once you’ve gathered your materials, all that’s left is to create the foundation for your wreath. You can create a ring using twigs as a biodegradable foundation, or use wire for a permanent one that can return each year. Then arrange your bits and bobs onto your ring with twine and, voilà! You have created your DIY no-waste wreath. Not only does this benefit the planet, but it can also be a fun activity to do with the family; bake some cookies too and you’ve got yourself a Christmassy day filled with memories to last a lifetime.
Another thing to consider at Christmas is the tree itself. For an artificial tree to be better for the environment, it must be kept in the family for at least 20 years. Whilst you may think buying a real tree may seem worse for the environment, because trees are being cut down, this is actually untrue. Christmas trees are grown for the festive period for consumers to buy. So, why not pop to the local tree hotspot and bring the outdoors, indoors for Christmas? When Christmas is over and the tree is no longer needed, always remember to take your tree to be recycled; this way the tree is shredded into mulch and used as bark and compost, which is what happens to the trees that don’t get bought originally. Perhaps even try growing your own tree to use in a few years to come.
Lastly, an easy way to be environmental and reduce your carbon footprint is to buy your Christmas food and drink from local farmers. Not only does buying locally benefit the planet, but it also helps keep afloat the local businesses that are currently plummeting due to mass consumerism. Also, locally sourced food and drink contain fewer additives and pesticides which benefits your body too. Another small way to reduce plastic at Christmas is to buy loose vegetables and put them in your own reusable packaging from home.
It is very easy to get caught up in the Christmas calamities and forget about the bigger picture. But by being just a bit more conscious of what we do at Christmas time, together we can create a much more eco festive period. So, don’t leave the planet out this year and give a gift to Earth this Christmas too.