blog cover

9 Ways To Celebrate Christmas More Sustainably

By Natalie Lewis

It’s easy to get caught up in the madness of Christmas, from finding the perfect gift for loved ones to cooking a show-stopping Christmas dinner.

The expectations of Christmas are so stressful, that we end up buying an overwhelming amount of presents and decorations, not to mention the chocolate. Sadly, this contributes to the huge increase of waste during the Christmas period.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to minimise waste and be more sustainable this Christmas, while still maintaining the festive spirit.

Here are some tips on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas!

Someone holding out a paper-wrapped gift with a Christmas tree behind

Eco-Friendly Presents

According to Oxfam, around half of adults in the UK receive an unwanted gift each year. Although it’s the thought that counts, there are different ways you can gift and save your money!

Start by being more conscious and intentional with what you’re gifting. Don’t get sucked into the pressure of buying lots of cheap, token gifts – instead, look for something that will provide a lifetime of value and show you’ve given it some thought.

Canopey has hundreds of quality, well-made gifts that are made with the planet in mind. Shop our full gifts collection.

Gifting an experience to a loved one is another great option, and can be just as precious as a physical gift. It shows the amount of time and effort you have put into creating a present that is personalised to them.

Experiences help bring people together. They create memories that last a lifetime, as opposed to an unwanted gift that will be stored away and forgotten about.

There are many experiences that you could gift a loved one, for example tickets to shows, concerts and events, or even a reservation to that fancy restaurant they have been wanting to try.

A gift wrapped in brown paper and string

More Sustainable Wrapping Paper

Unwrapping presents is undoubtedly one of the most exciting parts of Christmas, but what happens to the wrapping paper that’s discarded?

In the UK, over 227,000 miles of paper is disposed of annually. A large amount of this gift paper is made from foil or is covered with glitter which means it cannot be recycled, so it ends up in the landfill.

This Christmas, try using recycled gift wrap or FSC-certified paper, and avoid glitter and foil, to reduce the amount of waste at landfills. You can use the ‘scrunch test’ to check if it can be recycled: if it stays in a ball then it’s likely it can be recycled, but if it springs back into shape then it probably isn’t.

A unique and reusable source of Christmas wrapping is the traditional Japanese technique Furoshiki. This is the process of using cloth to wrap and transport gifts. It is sustainable as it uses all reusable products and is a creative way to wrap your presents.

Newspaper or packing paper can also be used to not only upcycle materials but also create a stylish aesthetic.

A set of LED christmas lights and baubles hanging on a branch

Switch To LED Lights

Switching to LED lights has long-term benefits. They use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, resulting in the same luminous effect from the lights while saving more on your electricity expenses.

Although LED lights are a little more expensive, they provide great savings on your energy bill, and their durability means you won’t need to replace them as often as normal bulbs.

These lights are perfect for the Christmas festivities and creating savings all year around!

A small red wooden christmas tree decoration

Reuse Old Decorations

The temptation of buying new decorations when browsing at stores can be nearly irresistible. The allure of sparkles and glitter makes it difficult to refrain from purchasing especially when you have the perfect spot for it.

However, reusing or DIYing decorations is a more sustainable and cost-effective approach. Creating your own decorations can be a fun and creative activity for all the family to engage in. Providing quality time, and a memorable tradition.

From paper snowflakes and daisy chains, to sprigs of holly and herbs, making your own (and composting them afterwards!) is a great activity for the kids, will be much cheaper (and even free), all while adding a lovely charm to your house.

A Christmas dinner spread on a table, taken from above

Cutting Down on Food Waste

Christmas is a time when we forget about our diets, the time we indulge in a treat or two, and pile our plates up to record heights. It is also the time when most food is wasted. Each year seven million tonnes of food is disposed of in the UK.

To reduce food waste, try planning your meals and be realistic about what you will consume over the holiday. Only buy what you will eat, freeze leftovers and store them in sealed containers to keep them fresh.

A Christmas nut roast loaf on a white plate

Reduce Meat Consumption

Meat is a staple of many a Christmas dinner, with lots of people opting for a traditional turkey. Unfortunately, the livestock industry is responsible for over 14% of all green-house gas emissions.

Decreasing your meat consumption can help to reduce carbon emissions and create a more eco-friendly Christmas for everyone. Choosing a plant based diet is healthier for both you and the environment.

For those who cannot lose the tradition of meat at Christmas, birds are generally a lot lower impact than beef livestock. Buying an organic turkey or chicken can also help by preventing damaging pesticides being used to grow feed.

In 2017, the National Farmers Union created Turkey Finder, a website that helps you to find local producers who responsibly raise birds.

A London underground train pulled into a station

Travelling For Christmas

Christmas is the time for gathering and spending quality time with loved ones. This means more people are ‘driving home for Christmas’ and travelling significant distances during the festive period. This contributes to carbon emissions as the number of cars on the road increases.

To reduce your carbon footprint check to see if you can carpool, as many people travel at similar times. Use public transport, plan in advance and arrange your ticket earlier to ensure you get a fairer price as opposed to those who buy at the last minute. This can reduce your carbon emissions as it reduces the need for more cars on the road.

A family walking on the beach in Cornwall

Sustainable Christmas Activities

Christmas is a holiday for spending time with loved ones. Rather than just watching TV or shopping, consider doing some outdoorsy activities and going for peaceful walks in nature to appreciate the world around you. This might also be the time to pick up materials for your decorations.

Christmas is also a time to give thanks, as to many it symbolises generosity and the spreading of goodwill. To express your gratitude, consider local volunteer groups and charity drives to help those in need. Donating things you already have to people who don’t have so much is a positive action and helps reduce unnecessary waste. Rather than leaving last year’s Christmas present in a drawer, consider how someone else might appreciate it much more.

A woman at a ceramics stale at a market

Engage With Your Local Community

Christmas is the perfect time to engage with your community, spreading awareness and promoting sustainable values by organising events. There are often makers’ markets and stalls to support local businesses during the festive season. We also stock lots of sustainable small brands on Canopey, many of which make their products here in the UK.

This helps to educate people and also provide those who are lonely, particularly at this time of year, some comfort, allowing them to interact with, and meet new people. Supporting local businesses is also a great way to promote sustainability in your community.

Wrapping Up

Every year there’s a lot of pressure to shop mindlessly without thinking.

Remember that if you want to shop there are plenty of ways to reduce your impact and cut down on unnecessary waste, rather than feeding into the world of fast fashion and cheap plastic gifts.

From making your own decorations to engaging with your local community and supporting small businesses here in the UK, we hope you’ve come away from this article with some new ideas about how to celebrate Christmas sustainably this year!