I’m dreaming of a sustainable Christmas: top tips for this festive season

As the Christmas spirit takes over, it's important to stay mindful about the impact our seasonal behaviour has on the environment.

Ah, it’s that time of the year again: frantic present searching and extravagant food buying, hopefully followed by a lovely couple of days spent relaxing with family and friends.

But how can we be a little more conscious of our environmental footprint during these chaotic yet cheery celebrations?

Annually, we spend, consume, throw away and don’t really seem to think twice. Then, it all gets repeated a year later. But this festive routine could do with a sprinkle of sustainability.

Since more and more awareness is being spread about the state our climate is in, people are receiving the push they need to make subtle lifestyle changes. And together, we can collectively help protect the planet.

Here are some top tips to help be a little more eco-friendly, without sacrificing the magic of Christmas:

Wrapped with love

I’m sure you’re familiar with the post present exchange effort to tidy up the wrapping paper, messy scraps included. It’s often put into a black bag, and swiftly disposed of, so that order and presentability can be restored.

But what about the place this wrapping paper goes to next? A huge 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year. There is no reason for this single-use, out of sight, out of mind method. However, the lack of clarity around what kinds of gift wrap can be recycled is contributing to mindless waste.

As a rule of thumb, if you can crunch it into a ball – and it stays in that shape – the paper is suitable for recycling. Still, it’s better to be sure, and you can do this easily by purchasing 100% recyclable wrapping paper.

That means no shiny film, glitter or any of those fancy materials. The same stands for Christmas cards, but there are a huge variety on sale that are completely recyclable.

For wrapping, one option is to purchase a roll of brown paper, but there are more decorative alternatives to this.

For instance, the stationary chain Paperchase is selling a range of recyclable wrap. From red and white stripy gingerbread men, to skiing pandas: you can treat your recipients to both lovely designed and sustainably wrapped presents.

Deck the halls with boughs of sustainability

To avoid unnecessary purchases, reuse your decorations from last Christmas. Thankfully, they’re not going to go out of fashion or be seen as “so last year” as the Christmas theme is cyclical. You also save yourself time and money!

Shop till you drop…sustainably

There are many benefits to shopping locally, including reducing emissions from transport of products and improving the economy by helping micro businesses to function.

You also never know what hidden gems you may find present-wise in small, local shops.

Waste not want not

You probably guessed this one was coming…please try to avoid wasting food. Christmas is usually a time of extravagance, especially in terms of drinking and eating: Britain are responsible for purchasing ‘Two million turkeys. Five million Christmas puddings. Over 74 million mince pies’.

The impact on the environment from food waste is often overlooked. Whilst shopping for that all important Christmas feast, think about the source of the food: what kind of eco-footprint is left behind during the production? This is helpfully illustrated through a video created by RESET – Digital for Good.

Of course, this is a very brief summary of the good deeds you can do for the environment during this festive period. But every little really does help.

Besides, you’re probably busy running around in preparation for the big day, so hopefully this short list of top tips has inspired you to make sustainably minded decisions without completely overturning your traditions.

As the saying goes: do good, feel good.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com.