When the festive season starts and we get into the gift-giving spirit, it may be easy to forget about the impact our actions have on the environment. To help you out with keeping your impact positive, we are sharing some tips and ideas on sustainable Christmas food, decorations, and eco-friendly gifts. We hope these tips will bring sustainable festive joy to your winter!
Why not try cutting down meat this Christmas – at least for some days of the festive break? According to the Soil Association, “food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact”. Here are some alternative festive food tips to help you shop and cook for an Earth-friendly feast.
Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes
Nowadays veggie doesn’t have to mean predictable omelettes, cheese salads or risottos. Or even necessarily the standard nut roast for vegans at Christmas.
Have a look at some of the excellent recipes at Vegan Food & Living for inspiration. And there are some extra tasty festive treats on the Vegan Society website, including vegan brandy butter, and even vegan eggnog.
Cut Food Waste
When you are food shopping, try and choose things that are light on the packaging, or buy loose items.
And if you end up over-catering, don’t just bin what’s left. Transforming leftovers can be a great way to create new meals, save money and cut waste. Try the BBC Good Food leftovers recipes for ideas or challenge your family to suggest recipes with whatever you’ve got in the fridge.
If you have too many leftovers, see what you can freeze. Or why not donate some to an elderly neighbour, local food bank or soup kitchen? Compost any other waste.
Most of us love a bit of festive decoration and fancy wrapping, and who doesn’t like getting Christmas cards? But research suggests that the paper waste over the Christmas period is equivalent to 5-12 million litres of biofuel, enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times.
So why not recycle or make your own Christmas decorations? Foraging for pinecones and holly is the perfect excuse to enjoy the great outdoors and keep kids busy if there are any around.
Scarf Folding and Other Green Gift Wrappings
Lots of wrapping paper contains plastic. Opt for the understated elegance of brown parcel paper tied up with string – adding natural decorations like spruce or homemade cookies.
Alternatively, try a scarf. No really. Someone somewhere came up with the ingenious idea of using a scarf to wrap a present, and the results are pretty amazing.
An unbelievable 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households each year, according to Imperial College researchers.
E-cards (sent online) are an increasingly popular alternative. They cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save money.
Have a Crafty Christmas
Or even making a natural Christmas wreath from carefully foraged materials? It’s a great excuse to have fun and enjoy the crisp air outdoors. You can also try getting creative with dried fruit peel, pinecones, Christmas tree offcuts and the like.
Christmas presents shouldn’t cost the earth. From buying second-hand to choosing sustainable products (and avoiding companies that aren’t eco-friendly), there are plenty of ways to show your loved ones, and the planet, a little love.
Support a campaign that speaks to you
One of the easiest ways you can give back to your communities or the environment is by making intentional purchases.
A great gift idea is to make a charity donation in someone’s name to a cause that they deeply care about. You can also support small local businesses, likes of which you can find on Etsy, where you know the products have been made with great care.
You can show your support for a particular charity or campaign by buying a gift that contributes to the cause and stand for your values. For inspiration, have a browse on Friends of the Earth shop for products made from 100% organic cotton, using renewable energy, and mailed with plastic-free packaging.
Christmas Bee Saver Kit
Bees are vital to our planet, helping pollinate the crops and plants that sustain us. But 13 bee species have become extinct in the UK since 1900, and a further 35 are on the threatened species list. Buy a Christmas Bee Saver Kit for a loved one, and receive bee-friendly wildflower seeds, a bee identification guide, Christmas goodies and much more.
We wish you all a merry and bright 2022 festive season!