Tips for a Sustainable Christmas

Christmas can be a bad time of year both in terms of waste and unsustainable practices. While we hold our traditions very dear, there are some simple steps we can take to make it a happy time for the planet as well as us. The website we shamelessly copied (thank you WWF) is geared to the UK market, but the principles translate worldwide.


1. Quality not quantity:

Over half of UK adults say they have received gifts they don’t want at Christmas. When buying gifts think: less but better, putting the time into picking a quality item that will last a long time. This reduces the chances of gifts going to waste and can be better for your wallet!

2. Gift an experience:

Gifting an experience for your loved ones will reduce demand for physical resources. Bring people together by gifting your time or a pre-bought experience. There are lots of options to choose from that will reduce your Christmas footprint. You could buy tickets to shows, concerts or events. Gift a homemade coupon book. Make a restaurant reservation or give a gift card. Why not plan a day out to a National Trust or Wildlife Trust location, or even make a homemade meal. It also means Christmas comes twice for the receiver, when they get to go on the experience!

3. Think about materials:

Look at the materials gifts are made from and keep sustainability in mind. Ensure wood and paper gifts are made from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials. Avoid single plastics items that can’t be recycled and look for things like Organic-certified food and clothing. Buying second-hand items saves on resources needed to make new products. Vintage clothes and home furnishings, and refurbished technology can make great sustainable gifts.

4. Test your wrapping skills:

Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper. Avoid plastic ribbon and tape or foil-backed wrapping paper. Choose cards that you can recycle (this means no foil or glitter!). Check out some tape-free wrapping techniques online, such as furoshiki. This is a traditional Japanese method of using cloth to wrap and transport gifts. It makes for beautiful, unique and reusable packaging.

5. The gift of a better future:

If you’re struggling for a gift idea – why not support WWF’s work by choosing an animal adoption or one of our memberships? These are perfect gifts for nature and wildlife-lovers wanting to help the environment.


6. Cut your food waste:

Food production is the biggest cause of tropical deforestation. Try to cut any waste by planning ahead – be realistic about how much food you need and use up leftovers. Instead of clingfilm, use Tupperware, foil and wax cloth covers to keep leftovers nice and fresh!

7. Eat More Plants:

Poultry is in the top 10 most wasted foods in the UK and 100,000 tonnes of it ends up in the bin every year. Eating more plant-based meals is good for you and the planet. The livestock industry generates 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. It requires huge amounts of space, water and feed. Instead, you could try a meat alternative.

8. Eat seasonally:

Make your shopping basket more sustainable by buying locally produced, seasonal products. Doing so reduces the energy spent growing foods out of season or shipping food to the UK. Support UK farmers by eating with the seasons.


9. Table Manners:

Many Christmas crackers are not recyclable, and the toys inside are often made of plastic. Instead, look out for FSC-certified crackers. Reusable DIY crackers are another great option. Fill them yourself with sustainable options (like chocolates) and personalised festive favours. Avoid single-use tablecloths and napkins. Instead, use material versions which have a longer lifecycle than their paper equivalents.

10. Think about your lights:

Use LED lights on your Christmas tree, they use less energy, last longer and look just as good! Also, switch off your lights at night – it’s safer and won’t cost the earth.


11. Make your own decorations:

Save yourself some money by upcycling old decorations. Or make your own using spare material around the house. We sell DIY Christmas decorations in our shop. They make a great tree ornament and/or gift! They’re made from felt derived from recycled water bottles and the thread comes from plants.

12. Don’t forget the tree!

If buying a plastic Christmas tree, make sure that you’re going to reuse it for at least 10 years. Otherwise, it would have been better to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest. If buying a real tree, make sure it’s FSC-certified. Be clear on how to dispose of your tree once the season is over. If it is potted, think about replanting it. Or get it recycled and turned into wood chips. Check your local council website for their sustainable collection services. Purchasing a potted tree is a good solution as you can reuse it each year! Why not go a step further and rent a Christmas tree? This is where you care for a tree over the festive period and return it to be replanted for use again the next year.

Out and About

13. Dressing for the party season:

This year, choose the sustainable option and try to use clothing that you already own! Or try looking around second-hand shops for your new Christmas party outfit.