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5 ways to have your most eco-friendly Christmas ever

Living
5 minute guide

Georgina Wilson-Powell

4 December 2017

While it may be the most wonderful time of the year, celebrating Christmas has a huge impact on the planet. With greeting cards, plastic decorations and unwanted gifts all generating a huge amount of landfill waste, the real cost of a Merry Christmas can be devastating for the environment. But with just a few smart choices and some easy substitutions, you can help save the planet and still celebrate in style. Read on to learn how you can have your most eco-friendly Christmas ever. 

Update your Christmas lights

If you still haven't invested in modern LED fairy lights for your tree, then make this the year you finally get around to it. Not only are LED bulbs much brighter than traditional incandescent varieties, but they also use far less energy, meaning they're better for your budget as well as the environment. In fact, if every household in the UK swapped just one string of traditional incandescent lights for an LED equivalent over the 12 days of Christmas, this would save 57,000 tonnes of CO2, according to a report in This is Money.

If you’re looking to cut down your energy usage even more this year, you could consider also consider using a plug-in timer to control when your lights switch on and off. This way, your lights will only come on for a set amount of time each day, and there's no need to worry about forgetting to turn them off.  

Sustainable Christmas Trees 2 Pebble Magazine

Go for a real tree, ideally in a pot for the most eco-friendly option this Christmas

Get an eco-friendly real tree

While artificial trees may last longer than living varieties, there's currently no way for them to recycled in an environmentally friendly way. This means that, even if you re-use your tree for a number of years, it will still eventually end up in a landfill.

One acre of growing trees can produce enough oxygen every day for 16 people, according to this guide to selecting your tree from Wyevale Garden Centres, so you'll be supporting an eco-friendly industry when you buy an authentic spruce. Unlike plastic artificial versions, a real tree can also be easily recycled in an eco-friendly way: either chip it and compost it, or take it to your local Christmas tree recycling centre. Some councils even offer a free collection service in the New Year. 

Find alternatives to sending cards by post

This year, over one billion Christmas cards will end up in the bin once the festive season is over (House Beautiful). In addition to creating a huge amount of landfill waste, all this extra post also results in a higher number of delivery vans making more frequent journeys, which leads to increased pollution from exhaust fumes. Instead, try hand-delivering cards wherever possible — this way, you'll also have an opportunity to pass on festive wishes to your loved ones in person. 

For relatives and friends who live further afield, try sending e-cards or an online festive message as an alternative to environmentally damaging postage and shipping. Chances are, your relatives will appreciate a slightly longer, more thoughtful online message much more than another throwaway card that's destined for a landfill. This festive selection of e-cards from Punchbowl is a great place to get started — and, with loads of free e-card options available, you'll save money, too. 

Thought Clothing

Give ethical, waste-free gifts

Still looking for the perfect gift for an eco-warrior or conservationist friend this Christmas? This selection of green gifts from The World Land Trust is perfect for environmentalists, including an option to buy an acre of land in a threatened forest to help create a nature reserve and prevent deforestation. 

With eco-friendly gifts like these, you're not only helping to save the planet, but you’re giving a gift that really will last forever, too.

For foodie friends and gourmands, you could try making your own hamper filled with environmentally friendly fair-trade goodies. For a personal touch, you could even try your hand at making your own hamper staples, like some home-baked festive biscuits. 

5 Tips Christmas Ecofriendly

Use natural foliage and make decorations that don't use plastic - it's not as hard as you think

Make your own plastic-free decorations

If you're looking to update your festive décor this year, don't opt for plastic baubles and artificial wreaths. Instead, decorate your home using foraged natural plants and cuttings. 

Pinecones and dried slices of citrus fruit will make beautiful and fragrant Christmas tree ornaments, and these salt-dough cookies from Wholefully will add a pop of colour without the need for toxic plastic.

Cuttings of holly, eucalyptus and ivy from your garden can also be fashioned into stunning festive wreaths.

You can find even more inspiration in our easy guide to creating beautiful no-waste ethical decorations

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