12 Tips to Having an Environmentally Sustainable Christmas
Christmas may come just once a year, but the impact that your actions and purchases have on the planet could last a lifetime. Wrapping paper can take years to decompose and as a nation we’re known for our over-indulgence over the festive period. There are however several tips that you can follow in order to limit the impact you make on our planet throughout the Christmas period.
Tip 1: Write a list and check it twice!
The temptation to over-stock on food often leads to panic shopping, buying things you don’t need and ultimately a fair amount of waste. Being strict with your shopping list should ensure that you only buy what you need and if you’ve anything spare or a little cash left over, consider donating to food banks so that those in need get the benefit.
Tip 2: Use recycled wrapping paper or fabric
In 2017, the UK threw out an estimated 108 million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. You can make your gifts look memorable with some creative use of recycled brown paper or newspaper. Alternatively use fabric that can be re-purposed or gift bags which can then be re-used by the recipient.
Tip 3: Avoid artificial
Fake Christmas trees are not necessarily greener - although they last for longer, they are made from plastic, not recyclable or from a renewable source and have probably been shipped a great distance. There are also question marks over where they are made, and the unethical labour potentially used to make them.
Real trees help to remove carbon from the atmosphere while they are growing and are the greener choice as long as you consider where and how they have been grown. Make sure you get one from a sustainable source. There are over 400 Christmas tree growers across the UK registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association, where trees are grown according to strict guidelines governing everything from sustainable seeds and cultivation to protecting local wildlife. The Soil Association also certifies some trees as organic, which means that no pesticides will have been used during growing.
Tip 4: Shop local
Shopping locally has numerous benefits and is particularly important in 2020 when smaller businesses are struggling to survive. If you buy your turkey from your local butcher for example you will be supporting the local community and minimising your carbon footprint. Likewise, with other types of small businesses that make gifts, by purchasing from them you‘ll be supporting small suppliers.
Tip 5: Think before you bin
On average over 80,000 tonnes of old clothes will be thrown away this Christmas. If you do end up with a brand-new wardrobe via presents or picked up in the boxing day sales, make sure you donate your old clothes. This year has been very hard for many and charities are in need of quality clothing to help and support people in need.
Tip 6: Defrost your freezer
Let’s face it, come the big day you need your freezer to be working at optimum efficiency so by defrosting now you’ll free up some space for leftover’s as well as improve its energy efficiency.
Tip 7: Regifting
A controversial concept; but if the item you are re-gifting has not been opened or damaged in any way it should go to a new home rather than being left to be unused, wasted and potentially thrown into landfill.
Tip 8: Don’t forget to turn the tree off
Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons. Also don’t forget to switch them off when you are not home as they are a fire risk!
If you want to be more environmentally friendly, try switching to either LED lights, choosing lights that are powered by solar power or rechargeable batteries, or installing an energy-saving bulb to offset the energy usage.
Tip 9: Reduce condensation and toll on energy
Try and use the right sized pots for each element of your Christmas dinner, keep lids on pans and turn on the extractor fan. This will help to reduce your energy bills.
Tip 10: Switch up your candles
Cranberry, cinnamon, pine and ginger – there are many smells associated with Christmas that we all love to bring inside our homes, but paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment. Candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax are more eco-friendly because they biodegrade and are smoke-free.
Tip 11: Cards
We all love a Christmas card but what happens after the holiday season? Some elaborately decorated cards that use ribbon and glitter etc may not be easy to recycle. Luckily Recycle Now allows people to recycle their cards throughout January at participating retailers. With an average of 17 cards in the UK for every man, woman and child, that's a lot of trees saved!
Tip 12: Turn the thermostat down
Turning down the thermostat by only 1C saves carbon and money; it's a good excuse to resurrect the themed Christmas jumper. Also consider turning the radiator in the kitchen right down as it’s probably not going to need any additional heat!
Have a very Merry Christmas!
While it’s important to consider environmental sustainability in our life choices, it’s also important to make sure you have fun over the festive period. It’s been a difficult year so from everyone at United Gas & Power, we wish you all a happy holiday and all the best for 2021!
See how your business could become more sustainable for 2021, contact us today by clicking here.