As the festive season approaches we’re all set to eat, drink and be merry with friends and family. And we’re also set to ditch 54 million platefuls of food, one billion Christmas cards (33 million trees) and £42 million worth of unwanted Christmas presents.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most wasteful. With the UK using approximately 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year (over 83 kilometres squared of which will end up in our bins) our festivity is shrouded in alarming statistics about the harm we’re causing our planet.
Of course, we haven’t lost our minds. We don’t want to cancel Christmas. We love it like you do, and to make sure there’s plenty more to come for the world and its wonderful wildlife, here are some little things that can make a big difference.
Try covering presents with brown paper tied with twine, cloth ribbon or paper tape, and where possible reuse wrapping paper from last year. You could have a go at making your own gifts or buying experiences for your loved ones instead of standard presents; it’s the thought that counts, and unlike many shop-bought gifts the memory of an experience could last a lifetime.
Rocking around the FSC Christmas tree
If you were thinking of buying a plastic tree this year, why not go for a sustainably grown tree from a local farm instead? When your tree has served its festive purpose, break it up for use in your garden or take it to your local Recycling Centre, where it will either be chipped to provide covering for parks and pathways or shredded and mulched to be used as compost. If you already have a plastic tree, use it for as many years as you can.
If you can part with those pigs in blankets, why not swap to vegetarian or vegan recipes this Christmas and reduce your carbon footprint? Or if you simply can’t go without, source your meat and veg organically. Free-range, organic meat supports greener, small-scale farming - it may be slightly more expensive, but meat from humanely reared animals is easier to swallow than cheap and cheerless meat from intensive farms.
Try switching to solar powered lights for the outside of your house, and use timers for your indoor lights. You could turn your main light bulb off when the fairy lights are on for some energy saving mood lighting, and if all else fails just remember to turn them off when you go to bed. The UK throws away around 500 tonnes of fairy lights each year, so pay a little more for your Christmas lights this year and reuse them for years to come.