38 Ways To Have An Eco-Friendly Christmas In 2021
Want to have a more eco-friendly Christmas this year? From gifts to food and drink and everything in between, pebble has got you covered. Ho ho ho...
Having an eco-friendly Christmas is easier than you might think and still just as fun. All it requires are a few tweaks to your Christmas routine.
From what you eat to where you shop and what you buy, there are so many ways to have a positive impact on the planet and celebrate the season to its fullest.
So why should you go green this year?
Christmas is the most wasteful time of year. The UK produces an additional 3 million tonnes of Christmas waste in comparison to the rest of the year.
That’s about 100 million bin bags being sent to landfill, contributing to pollution and global warming.
If you want to minimise your footprint without being a Scrooge, here are pebble’s top tips for a sustainable Christmas in 2021 and beyond.
Quick links to pebble's eco-friendly Christmas tips
Christmas is the season of consumerism.
According to Finder, an estimated 21 million of British adults receive gifts they don’t want.
On top of that, the UK uses 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year and over 83km2 of this will end up in our bins.
1. Avoid single use plastic
Shop for gifts that are free of single use plastic. Opt instead for products made from biodegradable or recyclable materials.
Check out our eco-friendly Christmas gift guide for some inspiration.
2. Go Fairtrade and ethical
Choose Fairtrade and ethically made gifts that give back to communities and the local economy. You’re also standing up for fair wages and fair treatment of workers throughout the supply chain.
3. Invest in reusable essentials
Giving reusable essentials as gifts is a great way to wake up friends and family to the idea of embarking on a zero waste journey. Built to last, they are the antithesis of their single use counterparts.
4. Make edible gifts
If you don't want to give to big corporations or you’re feeling the pinch, how about making something edible to give as a gift?
Some of our favourite recipes include chocolate covered candied orange peel and white chocolate fudge with pistachio and cranberry. We also have some more edible gift inspiration here.
5. Buy an experience
Who says gifts need to be physical?
Give your loved one a year’s subscription to their favourite digital service like Audible or Netflix. Memberships to favourite museums, the cinema and the National Trust work too.
Treat your loved one to an evening at the theatre, a meal at their favourite restaurant, afternoon tea, a concert, a weekend away or a comedy night.
Christmas wrapping paper
Don’t contribute to the mountain of non recyclable wrapping paper! Here are our top tips:
6. Recycle wrapping paper
Always recycle Christmas wrapping paper if you can.
Skip glitter or foil wrap as they cannot be recycled. Use the scrunch test - if you can scrunch the paper, it’s likely you can recycle it.
Avoid sticky tape. Small bits of plastic like sticky tape often end up breaking down into microplastics and polluting the environment.
7. Go plastic free
Buy plastic free wrapping paper brands like Storigraphic. Its FSC Certified paper is 100% recyclable, contains no glitter, foil or metallic ink and comes cut in sheets rather than rolls.
Each sheet of wrapping paper is thick enough to be reusable, making it another win for no waste wrapping.
Check out our guide to zero waste wrapping paper.
8. DIY it
Go zero waste and make your own DIY plastic free wrapping paper this Christmas.
Our method involves recycled parcel paper, homemade potato stamps and a selection of brightly coloured vegetable ink. Find out how to do it here.
9. Use old newspapers
Turn old newspapers lying around the house into quick and affordable wrapping paper. In the months leading up to Christmas, scan through and save pages you like the look of to use for later.
The cartoons and puzzles sections are particularly great for this. You can use sheet music, magazines and old maps for this too. Use the remaining scraps to make your own Christmas cards too!
10. Use fabric wrapping
Get inspired by traditional Japanese Furoshiki and wrap your presents in fabric. Fabric wraps can be used with friends and family for years to come.
FabRap™ creates exclusively designed and contemporary, reusable fabric gift wrapping inspired by Indian textiles.
The Fabric Wrapping Co.’s wraps are Scandi-style minimalist or bold maximalist. Both brands make reusable wraps out of Certified Organic Cotton.
Christmas is such a fun excuse to get creative with decorations.
If you're looking to move away from plastic decorations or mass made tack, we've rounded up some of our favourite sustainable Christmas decoration ideas that are Fairtrade, eco-friendly and zero waste.
But before you start here are our tips for choosing an eco-friendly Christmas tree.
11. Go real
Real Christmas trees are also more ethical as you’re supporting local businesses and if you buy local then the transport mileage is much less.
12. Choose sustainably grown
13. Rent your tree
Consider renting a Christmas tree. It’s replanted and cared for by the supplier until it’s time for the festive season.
Meanwhile, it’s a habitat for wildlife and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Use Good to Know to find a tree rental near you.
14. Buy a potted tree
Buy a potted Christmas tree and reuse it every year. We recommend starting with a smaller tree and then repot it as it gets bigger so it can take pride of place in your living room.
15. DIY your tree
Switch your traditional Christmas tree for an arty DIY creation made from items you have at home. Make it 3D by tying branches, twigs and sticks together with twine and hanging your creation from the wall or ceiling.
A DIY Christmas tree is a creative option if you don’t have much space. Plus, it's zero waste!
16. Buy a sustainable wreath
If you’re buying a Christmas wreath, the best way to make sure it’s sustainable is to ask about the provenance of the wood and check that all the other materials used are eco-friendly and plastic free. This is a lovely example of a sustainable wreath.
17. Use a wreath making kit
Another way to ensure your Christmas wreath is sustainable is to make your own. If you need a hand, use an eco-friendly wreath making kit that gives you all the tools to make your own.
This one shows how to make a foraged wreath.
This one has fresh foliage and a YouTube tutorial.
This one uses dried flowers so you can reuse it next year.
18. Craft your own wreath
If you prefer to use your own equipment, make your own deconstructed wreath with an old wire coat hanger and foraged foliage. Dress it up with dried orange slices, red berries and pine cones.
Other options include making wreaths out of cookie cutters and Christmas cards!
19. Avoid plastic decorations
Have an eco-friendly Christmas and avoid plastic decorations like tinsel, baubles and glitter. You may intend to use them every year but once they break, they can’t be recycled.
Glitter also contains microplastics that infiltrate waterways and harm aquatic life. If Christmas isn’t the same without a sparkle, here’s an eco alternative.
Making your own Christmas decorations is an eco and budget-friendly way to celebrate the festive season.
Another easy no waste idea is window painting using eco-friendly chalk pens!
21. Invest in eco-friendly decorations
Invest in ethical Christmas decorations you’ll love for years like these gorgeous stars from acorn & will, tree hangings from Green & Heath and hand painted baubles from Artisan Homewares.
22. Choose eco-friendly Christmas crackers
Ditch single-use crackers with disappointing plastic toys. Instead, fill your own reusable crackers with sweets and favours like these ones from 2 Green Monkeys. Or give to a good cause with RSPB’s recyclable crackers - find them and more options in 10 Eco-Friendly Christmas Crackers To Love This Year
23. Craft natural place settings
This Christmas set your table using natural, foraged items, for a back to nature, low waste vibe.
There are so many amazing colours around every winter, why shop for something plastic or single use, when you can find such beautiful things in nature.
24. Make a natural centrepiece
Make your Christmas table stand out with a natural centerpiece.
Food and Drink
During the Christmas season alone, almost 270,000 tons of food is wasted and a lot of it is still edible.
We share ways to plan ahead to reduce food waste over the festive season.
If you want to cut back on meat and dairy, we’ve got some delicious vegan recipes.
25. Go seasonal
Christmas is an excellent time to celebrate seasonal food and it means fewer air miles too.
This interactive seasonal food map launched by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) can help you plan your menu accordingly.
26. Have a plant-based Christmas dinner
If you want to keep up with the spirit of the season, going for some plant-based options is a simple way to do something sustainable for the planet and its inhabitants.
Check out our guide on How to make a vegan Christmas dinner that won’t disappoint.
27. Try something different
Want to be ethical but keep to tradition? Tofurkey is the perfect plant-based swap if you’re staying close to meaty traditions.
If you want to branch out and embrace the power of veg or step away from shop-bought meat alternatives, try this jewelled saffron rice stuffed squash recipe or go for this easy mushroom wellington.
28. Plan ahead
Plan ahead for the festive season so you don’t overbuy. Consider the number of people attending and go from there.
Try not to buy extra just in case. If you do want to have an emergency reserve, buy items with a long shelf life or that can be frozen.
29. Make a shopping list
Before you step foot in a supermarket, write down everything you need for all your menus and other snacks and nibbles. Then when it’s time to do the ‘Big Shop’ stick to your list.
Be aware of the use by dates of the food you’re buying so you know when it all needs eating by.
30. Try not to overcook
Every year in the UK, approximately seven million tonnes of food is wasted. Think about how much your guests and family are likely to eat in a sitting and cook that amount.
Try not to overcook. It will take more time for you and you’ll have more leftovers to contend with. Have a Christmas feast without the food waste and indigestion!
Snacks & Nibbles
31. Feast on vegan snacks
Add some vegan and ethical alternatives to some of your favourite snacks to your cupboards this Christmas.
32. Make your own sweet treats
Have a sweet tooth? Get in the festive spirit with these super cute melted snowmen shortbreads, complete with delicious, palm oil free chocolate drops from Doisy & Dam.
33. Stock up on ethical chocolate
If it’s not Christmas without too much chocolate in your household, why not stock up on ethically sourced treats this year?
We’ve listed 17 of our favourite chocolate brands on pebble, including Divine, Seed & Bean and Montezuma’s.
34. Sip on craft spirits
Forget the standard G&T or a bit of supermarket fizz, why not up the ante this year and try one of these unique and seasonal Christmas cocktail recipes, all made with craft spirits from sustainable distilleries.
35. Order up craft cocktails to home
Support your favourite cocktail bars and brands from the comfort of your home with the Drinks Drop.
It delivers cocktails to your door within 24 hours and you don’t have to mix a thing. Plus, all cocktails come in glass bottles or recyclable pouches.
36. Make zero waste cocktails
Celebrate the festive season with zero waste cocktails. Cut up the rind from juiced limes and throw them in a jar with vodka. After one to two weeks, you’ll have lime infused vodka.
You can then use those rinds for lime syrup. Instead of fresh garnishes, why not dehydrate fruit? They’re easier to keep too. Check out more of these zero waste cocktail ideas here.
37. Try sustainable alcohol free
If you’re swerving the alcohol this Christmas, we’ve got you covered.
Freestar’s alcohol free beer uses 80% less water and creates 70% less waste than the industry average.
Lowlander makes alcohol-free beer out of reclaimed orange and lemon peels sourced from bars and restaurants.
Everleaf’s botanical spirit alternative uses ingredients ethically sourced from small-scale farmers.
38. Have an ethical brew
A good cuppa is for Christmas too.
If coffee is more your thing, Pact Coffee pays its farmers above the Fairtrade base price.
Make it vegan with plant-based milk (here’s how to make oat milk).
For soft drinks, we recommend Remedy which is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and fructose-free.
Want more eco-friendly Christmas tips and ideas?
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