Snow-capped mountains, frost-bitten glass and dew-dropped pine trees glistening in the winter sun; winter is here, and the festive season is fast approaching.

Christmas parties and gatherings, it’s a time for family, friends, food, and festivities. However, along with the celebrations comes a lot of excess and, dare I say it, waste. But, with a little planning and forethought, we can rein in the holiday excess and have a more sustainable season. So, grab a hot cup of cocoa and let’s discover how we can have a happy Christmas without it costing the earth.

 

GIFTS

These brightly coloured and sparkling packages help to make Christmas feel magical; the holidays certainly wouldn’t be the same without them. But come the spring, around 41% of toys bought for children will be broken and end up in landfill. Perhaps, we can say more with giving less this year by gifting quality items that will stand the test of time and that are sustainably sourced and packaged. We can also gift experiences and days out, shifting the focus from material items to making memories with our loved ones and this goes a long way to lowering our impact on the earth.

 

WRAPPING PAPER

Did you know that each year in the U.K. around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used - most of which ends up in landfill. Though this is a major statistic, there are a few ways in which we can all reduce this number. Let's look at the paper itself: If it’s shiny or glittery, chances are it cannot be recycled.  A general rule of thumb is ‘the scrunch test’. Scrunch the material in your hand and let go, if it stays scrunched then it can be recycled, if it springs back, then it probably contains plastic and belongs in general waste. Look for wrapping paper that has the FSC sign as this means it contains sustainable materials. Wrapping paper with Sellotape or plastic backed labels still attached can’t be recycled either. It’s best to move away from plastic tape and opt for Kraft paper tape and paper labels instead. If you have any old Christmas cards, you can also cut these up to create festive gift tags for your gifts.   

 

FOOD

We all know we overindulge throughout the festive season, with approximately 66% of people admit to buying too much food for Christmas, and the unfortunate reality is that a lot of this excess food ends up in the bin. The best advice is to be mindful about what we are buying and how much we will really consume. Buying seasonal and local produce is always going to tick the sustainability box. When it comes to leftovers, get creative with recipes, and freezing meals is a great way to bring back the festive feeling when those January blues set in.

Christmas crackers are another ‘must have’ at the dining table. The sheer amount of plastic and waste in these is enough to make the eyes water. Fear not, however, as more sustainable, paper-based crackers are available to buy in most supermarkets, meaning this festive staple doesn’t have to disappear from the table, nor do the trademark awful jokes.

 

TREES AND DECORATIONS

To buy or not to buy a fake tree? That is the question, so let’s look at the science behind it. According to the Carbon Trust, a 6.5 ft artificial tree creates 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions when manufactured. This means that it needs to be in use for around 10 years for its impact to be lower than buying a real tree each year. If you are buying a real tree, then the advice is to buy one that has been grown locally and to recycle it in the new year (see your local authority for the best way to do this).

A new concept that is gaining popularity is renting a Christmas tree. The tree keeps its root ball and is replanted in January for the next year. This is by far the most sustainable option and there is minimal damage to the tree as during the winter period they are in a state of dormancy. But what about the decorations on the tree? Well, there’s a whole realm of possibilities here. You can opt for glass baubles and keep some left-over egg boxes to store these safely year after year. You can even make your own! Dried sliced oranges not only look the part, but also fill your home with a very festive fragrance. Using pinecones as baubles and creating origami paper stars are another way to add festive flair to your tree.

How ever you choose to spend your holidays this year, from all of us at Cameron House, we hope you have a magical Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

 

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