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Have yourself an eco-friendly Christmas!

Christmas is a time of love and light and generosity, but let’s be honest, it can also be a time of waste, packaging and far too much glitter! Luckily there are loads of easy, affordable ways to still have a magical Christmas while minimising harm to the planet. Remember, if every person just makes one small change, it can make such a big difference!

Here are a few ideas to try out:

1. The presents

There’s a fine line between putting a big smile on your family’s faces on Christmas morning with a thoughtful gift and just…buying people a lot more stuff that they don’t need! I love giving gifts more than anything but I also hate waste, so it’s something I think hard about every year. Here are the best solutions I’ve found so far:

  • Surprises are lovely, but so is knowing that your gift is genuinely wanted, so why not ask your friends and family for a Christmas list this year - or even just a couple of gift ideas? That way you know whatever you give them will really be valued and not wasted.

  • Buy experiences rather than stuff - tickets, trips, vouchers for spa treatments…there are so many options. My mum got me an ‘Alpaca Experience’ at a local alpaca farm for my birthday and we had so much fun!

  • Go second hand - there’s no shame in regifting! It’s certainly better than binning something or leaving it gathering dust in a drawer when someone else might really like it. Or head to the second-hand shops to find some lovely presents - I like to buy second-hand picture frames and then pop a photo inside for a really thoughtful gift.

  • Shop small - every one of the small businesses I know and support is so passionate about caring for the environment, and they go above and beyond to make sure their materials and business practices are all eco-friendly.

2. Cards and wrapping

Why not wrap your gifts in fabric this year? There are tons of Youtube videos demonstrating the Japanese art of furoshiki, or cloth wrapping. The lovely thing about wrapping gifts in beautiful fabrics is that the wrapping becomes part of the gift - the recipient could even keep it to wrap another present in future, keeping the tradition going!

Alternatively, you could wrap your presents in recycled brown paper, which can look really pretty with a few decorations added, like some colourful ribbon or twine, a slice of dried orange, a sprig of pine or one of my little cinnamon stars (which can also double as a reusable gift tag - and a tree decoration!). Ideally grab some brown paper tape too, so that all of the wrapping is easy to recycle.

As for cards, I might know somewhere you can buy completely plastic-free Christmas cards made from recycled brewer’s grain! But in general, a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything glittery as usually these cards can’t be recycled, and look out for that FSC logo on the back which tells you the card came from responsibly managed forestry.

3. The tree

It’s an age old debate - real or fake? Many people are concerned that cutting down a real tree seems unethical, but don’t worry - they’re cut from farms, not forests, and Christmas tree farmers replant consistently. After all, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have anything to sell! A Christmas tree takes about 10-12 years to reach maturity, and all that time it’s been capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

Fake trees, on the other hand, are usually shipped from China and are non-recyclable, meaning they’ll ultimately end up in landfill. Their carbon footprint is more than ten times that of a local, real Christmas tree.

So if you can, buy a real tree from a local farm, and, if possible, find a local service that will either mulch or burn your tree after Christmas rather than throwing it on a rubbish heap to decompose and release carbon. Or, even better, grab a tree in a pot and keep it out in your garden for the rest of the year - then you can use it time and time again!

Obviously real Christmas trees can be pricey, especially when you buy a new one every year, so if a fake one is more in your budget, just make sure you keep it and try to reuse it at least 10 times to negate its carbon footprint.

4. The decorations

Once again, glitter and plastic are everywhere to be seen at this time of year! But with rustic, Scandi Christmas decor trending everywhere at the moment, there are so many beautiful decorations made from wood, paper and other natural materials around. You could even make your own decorations - my Christmas tree this year features dried orange slices and origami stars, and I’ve been thinking about making a popcorn garland!

5. Christmas dinner

If you possibly can, shop local for your Christmas dinner this year - pretty much everything in a classic Christmas dinner can be grown or farmed right here in the UK, so head to your local butcher or greengrocer to see what you can find. My family have all been trying to cut down on animal products this year so we’ve made the decision to have our first ever vegetarian Christmas! My Grandad’s face was a picture when we told him, but the rest of us are really looking forward to trying out a vegetable wellington this year with all the trimmings.

Do you have any other ideas for how to keep your Christmas environment-friendly? Let me know in the comments!

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