Yes, Christmas is great fun, but it’s also an enormous source of waste: just think of all that plastic packaging and glitter-covered wrapping that ends up in the bin every year. If you’re lucky enough to be in a tier that still permits a group celebration, why not wow your guests with something truly feel-good and invest in some new, sustainable traditions? And reusable crackers, rented trees, homemade decorations and fabric wrapping are all cheap, easy ways to make your Christmas more environmentally friendly, no matter how big or small your Christmas this year. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of organic wine, and know that David Attenborough would be proud.
A real Christmas tree has a much smaller carbon footprint than an artificial one, but sad spruces do still end up on the scrapheap in January, adding massively to landfill waste and deforestation. This year, try renting a tree from a British farm. The genius family business Love a Christmas Tree offers up real Nordmann Firs, delivered to your door from their farm in Leicestershire from just £20. When you’re done with it, they’ll pick it up and replant it in the new year.
IMAGE | LOVE A CHRISTMAS TREE
Having prettily wrapped presents under the tree will make the world of difference to faltering Christmas spirits, but you needn’t forgo your eco credentials. Most wrapping paper that doesn’t ‘scrunch’ includes elements that aren’t recyclable, including glitter, foil or plastic. Go for plain, brown paper and decorate with leaves, sprigs of holly and gold and silver pens for a homely touch, or go the whole hog and invest in furoshiki Japanese wrapping cloth, which can be reused year after year. If you do use traditional wrapping, opt for paper tape and recycled gift tags. A good resource for all of the above is Wearth London – the recyclable wrapping paper patterned with plums turns presents into works of art.
Show your love for local butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers by buying Christmas food from small-scale producers (who likely need your support more than ever this year). The turkey is a great place to start, as you’ll use fewer food miles, less packaging and can feel more confident about where it’s come from. If you can’t get to the shops, try Abel & Cole, Springfield Poultry, Coombe Farm Organic and Riverford. Wrap up any leftovers in beeswax wrap rather than clingfilm to cut down on unnecessary plastic. If you find you’ve bought too much (perhaps, thanks to the new restrictions, you’re having a smaller Christmas than you first imagined) don’t let it go to waste: apps such as Olio will connect you to people in need in the area so you can donate any surplus. When it comes to drinks, there are plenty of organic wine suppliers to choose from these days, including Forty Hall Vineyard in London (a favourite of Laura Jackson) and Davenport Vineyards in Kent and Sussex.
Sending an e-Christmas card is probably the most sustainable choice of all, but if you’re away from family this year and want to pop the real thing in the post, plump for plantable cards: when the biodegradable paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds will grow and the paper will eventually decompose. As this is the card that keeps on giving, it’s also a great way to make sure you stay on your friends’ minds – through Spring and beyond.
There are sustainable options for everything from crackers to advent calendars and tree decorations if you think outside the box. Try reusable fabric crackers, that can even be monogrammed with your family’s initials (these also make a fantastic present). The same goes for reusable advent calendars, which you can fill with all your favourite chocolates and little presents each year; alternatively, buy a traditional advent candle. Decorating the tree is particularly important, especially if you’re partaking in any festive Zoom quizzes, for which they make a superb background. Think simple: pinecones, holly berries, pomander balls (cloves pushed into oranges, which smell heavenly) and as many spare ribbons as you can lay your hands on. Oh, and you get extra marks for solar lights, or LED bulbs.