Who's on board with making this year's Christmas as sustainable as possible? Far from totally sucking the joy out of the big day, we're simply suggesting some small and easy tweaks to your usual preparations.
After all, when it comes to this time of year, it's so easy to get caught up in a flurry of spending – whether on food, gifts or travel – and we believe you can have a properly jolly Christmas with less expense – and less waste.
From renting a Christmas tree to using recycled gift wrap, here are a few ideas to get you started…
1. Minimise food waste
Now, we totally get it – you're worried about running out of food. When you're hosting relatives you haven't seen for the best part of a year, it's natural to panic about catering for every food preference, intolerance or downright fussy eater. However, you really needn't provide five different desserts, or three meat substitutes. Most importantly, buy food items that can be frozen – you can freeze cold cuts, cooked veg, potatoes, bread rolls, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mince pies and leftover biscuits. In short, you can freeze most things (just imagine the roast dinners you'll be able to enjoy come January…). Don't throw away unfinished bottles of wine, either – simply decant your tipple into an ice cube tray or freezer bag, to be added to a stew later on.
2. buy a reusable advent calendar
Who doesn't love an advent calendar? Fun, affordable and full of tasty treats, kids and adults alike enjoy counting down to Christmas. To save on cardboard, consider investing in a reusable calendar that you can fill yourself – as well as being kinder to the environment, it will probably wind up costing you less in the long run.
3. Recycle Gift wrapping & tags
You might have heard that a lot of gift wrap cannot be recycled because of the plastic and metallic foil incorporated into many, many festive designs. Go the eco-friendly route by using simple brown paper and embellishing it with the use of stamps and some colourful twine. Other ideas? Reuse last year's wrapping paper, or even embrace good old-fashioned newspaper. Need gift tags? Customise last year's Christmas cards (if you still have them) with some scissors and a holepunch. As for those final flourishes? Snip off a stem of rosemary or other green foliage from the garden and tuck it through the twine on your gifts. Sustainable, affordable and oh so stylish.
4. Consider renting a Christmas tree
We think the concept of renting Christmas trees is going to take off in a BIG way over the next few years. More and more farms are offering the option to return your (potted) tree post-Christmas, so that it can be replanted. Aside from paying less, you'll be doing your bit for the environment – plus, it'll save you the stress of getting your tree to the nearest recycling centre. If you choose to buy a real tree, try and go locally-sourced (find your nearest grower here). Finally, if you already own a fake tree, try to use it for as many years as possible to save it from heading to landfill.
5. Enjoy a more vegetarian Christmas
For many of us, a juicy turkey, baked ham or side of beef is a really key part of our Christmas celebrations. And if you've already endeavoured to cut down on meat consumption throughout the year, you really don't need to totally deprive yourself – but consider where you source your ingredients from (go as local as possible) – and maybe try to incorporate some more veggie meals into the mix, post-Christmas Day. When shopping for groceries (fruit and veg, mainly), try buying loose items where possible, to avoid unnecessary packaging. Find some veggie-friendly meal ideas here.
6. Make your own gifts and decorations
No one likes to feel that they have got it completely wrong with their Christmas presents. To avoid splurging a load of money on a gift that will likely end up in the local charity shop (or worse – at the skip), play it safe with something thoughtful, homemade or edible. After all, who wouldn't love to receive a big bag of homemade cantucci, a tasty jar of chutney (perfect with Christmas cold cuts) or a freshly-baked batch of brownies? You could even try whipping up your own flavoured tipple, like our zesty Clemencello. Find more edible gift ideas here. If you're a keen knitter, why not gift a cosy scarf or blanket – the lucky recipient will be touched by the effort. Edible Christmas decorations are also fun to make, and look fantastic hung on the tree, ready to snaffle up with an afternoon cuppa.
7. cut out the glitter
As much as we love that bit of kitsch Christmas sparkle, glitter is well known to be bad for the environment (with some scientists even calling for it to be banned). The same can be said for sequins, which cannot be recycled, but which decorate so many of our festive party frocks these days. Come December it's hard to resist that over-the-top glitter eye shadow, or shimmering sequinned top – but be mindful of the impact that glitter and sequins have when washed down the drain and into the sea, where they can be consumed by fish and birds.
8. Make sure your Christmas lights are leds
This is a really easy one – simply make sure sure those twinkling lights are LED. The advantages of swapping your incandescent lights for LED bulbs are many: they last longer, they don't get as hot, and they use considerably less energy. Choose from warm, white, or coloured LED fairy lights here. Wishing you a very Happy (sustainable) Christmas!