“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means just a little bit more. ”It’s not often that we quote the Grinch, but in this case, and perhaps at the moment more than ever, Dr Seuss’ fictional character is spot on.

Ordinarily, Christmas is a magical time of year but it is also one of significant excess and unnecessary waste and excess.

If we are to get serious about tackling the climate emergency, then even the festive season shouldn’t be off limits when it comes to making changes.

Below are ten top tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas and put ‘a more sustainable future’ at the top of your wish list…

Avoid the gimmicks

From pre-packed ‘reindeer food’ (what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned carrot?!) that can be bad for wildlife, to Christmas Eve boxes full of quickly discarded novelties, try not to get sucked in.

Presents

Think quality, not quantity. Maybe introduce shared gift lists and secret Santa’s to encourage everyone to buy less and to help save on unwanted items. Consider what gifts are made of, who by and where – aim to buy presents that are produced ethically, sustainably and here in the UK wherever possible. And shop independently if you can. Cut back on plastic toys or switch to those made from recycled materials, wood and so on. Ditch big brand toiletries in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives. And give homemade gifts, experiences or your time in place of ‘things’.

Wrapping paper

It isn’t an exact science but if you scrunch wrapping paper into a ball and it stays that way, it’s more likely that it’s plastic free and can be recycled. Even better, use recycled kraft paper, which is both home compostable and recyclable. Avoid gift bags if you can as the majority are never reused and, crucially, avoid plastic sticky tape! Paper tape is readily and cheaply available online, compostable and recyclable. And skip the bows, gift tags and ribbon or find reusable and recyclable alternatives.

Cards

Of course, the obvious answer would be to avoid cards altogether. If that’s a step too far, aim to buy cards that are made from recycled, FSC (sustainable) or seed paper and free from non-biodegradable glitter, badges and plastic wrapping. Or get crafting and make your own!

Crackers

Again, you could opt to avoid crackers completely or, again, why not make your own, reusable, ones? If you do decide to buy some, try to ensure that they are both recycled and recyclable and free of plastic toys.

Trees

If you already own an artificial tree, enjoy it year after year for as long as you can. As and when you are in need of a new one, consider instead a real tree that is FSC or Soil Association approved. Or, you can now even rent a real tree, with the tree replanted after Christmas and used again next year!

If you already own an artificial tree, enjoy it year after year for as long as you can. As and when you are in need of a new one, consider instead a real tree that is FSC or Soil Association approved. Or, you can now even rent a real tree, with the tree replanted after Christmas and used again next year!

Advent calendars

Make or buy a reusable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free treats. Anything wrapped in foil or delicious chocolates from the likes of Divine or Tony’s Chocolonely are among the better options. The growing trend of more expensive, toy-filled calendars just means more unnecessary waste.

Christmas lunch

Can you buy your meat unwrapped from a local butcher, and your vegetables loose from a local greengrocer, farm shop or certain supermarkets? Wherever possible, aim to avoid unnecessary packaging and only buy and prepare what you really need to avoid food waste. Or give a vegetarian or vegan Christmas a go!

Drinks

Wine bottles with a (real) cork are a better option than a screw top because cork is home compostable and take a look at some of the fantastic British wines available from the likes of Stanlake Park, Windsor Great Park or Chapel Down to cut down on imported goods and the miles associated with them. If you’re buying beer, avoid plastic packaging and of course opt for cans or glass instead. When it comes to other alcoholic or soft drinks, swap plastic bottles for glass or cans too.

At the end of it all

Importantly, ensure that you recycle and dispose of everything correctly when the fun is over. If in doubt, look online, contact your local council or drop Plastic Free Home a line! Prepare beforehand by getting bags or boxes ready for things like wrapping paper, cardboard and recyclable plastic. Remember to donate any unwanted leftovers to a charity shop or (if in date and unopened) food bank.

Not everyone can do everything but if we can each make changes, they really do add up.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas when it comes and let’s all cross our fingers and toes that Santa brings us a more positive year in 2022…

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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