Sustainability has been a hot topic this year, and we’ve focused on tips to increase yours in all sorts of areas from gardening to holidaying. We thought it would be wise to focus on ways to stay sustainable at this busy time of year. It’s all too easy to let your usual habits slip when there is so much on your mind. But there are some easy ways to regain your eco-credentials which won’t cost a fortune or become more hassle than they’re worth. Even if you make just one of the changes listed below, you’ll be making a positive contribution. Who knows, you might be doing some already without even realising it!
We all love a bit of festive decorating at this time of year, but research shows that the amount of waste generated at Christmas is equivalent to 5-12 million litres of biofuel – enough to power a bus to go to the moon 20 times! Reducing waste is clearly the best way to stay sustainable this season, so opt for recycled decorations, or even try making your own. It’s a wonderful way to keep children entertained, it’s deeply rewarding and getting creative can be therapeutic too. Try natural decorations like dried orange peel, pine cones, holly sprigs and offcuts from your Christmas tree.
If you love having a real tree, but you want to be reassured that your tree has been grown sustainably, look for the FSC-certification logo. If you want a tree that’s certified as organic and pesticide-free, get one that’s approved by the Soil Association. In terms of disposal, most councils have allocated locations where you can leave your tree after Christmas. These trees are then shredded and used on woodland paths or else rotted down and recycled as compost.
If you prefer the ease of an artificial tree, and have one already then keep using it for as long as possible. Whether you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve had for years, invest in one that’s going to last and that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. You could always send your old one to the charity shop to help spread a bit of joy to those less fortunate.
Many people aren’t aware that a lot of Christmas wrapping paper isn’t in fact recyclable. Pretty extras like glitter, foil effects and lamination mean that the paper won’t be accepted by recycling centres. There are some lovely alternatives to traditional papers; you could use brown paper tied with natural twine with a little tucked sprig of eucalyptus or pine to add something special to a gift. You can even research ways of wrapping with scarves, which become part of the gift itself, and can be reused time and time again.
Food is a big part of the festive season and we know how important those family traditions are. There are some steps you can take to stay sustainable at Christmas; try choosing foods that are light on plastic packaging, or buy loose items from a greengrocer in paper bags. Don’t forget to use up your leftovers too (if you have any left!) to avoid wasting food. There are some amazing recipes out there for festive leftover ideas, from turkey pie to winter vegetable soups, which will keep the family going! If you’re overwhelmed by too much food, you could also bring some round to an elderly neighbour or soup kitchen. ‘Tis the season for giving after all…