Can we have a greener less wasteful, eco-friendly Christmas without being the Grinch? We hope so with these top 10 things to consider including what type of Christmas tree to buy!
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s a time for fun and celebration; a time to let our hair down and enjoy a little excess. But sadly, it’s also the most wasteful time of year, with waste doubling during the Christmas period. You might be wondering, how can we have a green Christmas without becoming the Grinch?! Here are our top tips.
1. Eco-friendly Christmas decorations
Decorations are a big part of what makes Christmas feel so special. Curate a collection of beautiful, reusable decorations that will create a special tradition for your family. Opt for materials such as glass or fabric, and store well to keep them at their best. For plastic-free alternatives to tinsel, try a festive garland or banner. Or for a retro feel, thread strings of popcorn to decorate your tree. If you’re not up for DIY, twinkling lights give a lovely Christmassy feeling to any room. Invest in a good quality set so you can reuse them year after year. A reusable wreath like this one from Silk Flowers Singapore is a beautiful addition.
2. The great Christmas tree debate
The focal point of all decorations is of course the tree! When planning a green Christmas, it begs the question – what is the most eco-friendly Christmas tree? The answer might surprise you!
- Plant it! Buying a live tree with the root ball attached is the most eco-friendly option. This will allow you to plant it and reuse it year after year. In the interim, it’s continuing to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Chop it – If you don’t have the space to keep your tree, a live tree is the next best option. Check out our list of best places to buy trees in Singapore here.
- Rent it – Another green option is renting one. Yes, you can rent a Christmas tree! Who’d have thought?!
- Fake it – If you do decide to purchase an artificial tree, consider that you need to use it for a minimum of 10 years to minimise its environmental impact.
3. Upcycled Christmas decorations & crafts
Foster your kids’ creativity (and keep them entertained!) with Christmas crafts. Help them to upcycle items from around the home into decorations for the home. They will love being involved in preparations and be proud to see their artwork displayed. Try some of these clever ideas – but hold the glitter.
4. Sustainable gifts for kids
There’s a good reason why many kids’ toys are made from plastic – because it’s basically indestructible! The downside is that plastic poses a huge risk to bird and marine life if it makes its way into nature. Instead, opt for classic toys made from wood and fabric. Going old-school can help cultivate kids’ creativity too!
Some say that kids can actually benefit from having fewer toys. Improved creativity, longer attention span, and better social skills to name a few. Giving an experience gift is a wonderful option and will create amazing memories. Consider a Friends of Wildlife or National Gallery membership.
5. Green gifts for grown-ups
Experience gifts can result in greater happiness! For some gift inspo, check out this list. Bungee jumping, anyone?! Forgoing a gift is, of course, the greenest option and perhaps this year you might (kindly) request no gifts please.
For those who are reluctant to adopt this idea, a site like Giftster can help you and your family create Christmas lists for items you need.
This might sound strange at first, but buying gifts second-hand can actually be a brilliant option. Wooden toy items, dress-up costumes, and Lego are great examples of items to source second-hand and may be in near-new condition. You may need to be a little more organised, but it will be well worth it! You’re likely to find some absolute treasures. Buying second-hand may well make you value the item more as well. If you buy through thrift stores, you can also support your local charity. (As an added bonus, you can often save around 50-70% of the purchase price!) When you buy second-hand, less resources are needed and every little bit helps to give the planet a rest.
6. Reusing and upcycling wrapping paper
One the biggest causes of Christmas waste is gift wrapping and packaging, because unfortunately it isn’t recyclable. Does this mean we have to go without all the loveliness under the tree?! Thank goodness, no! Try:
- Reusing wrapping – Bring an interesting aesthetic to your tree by using brown paper or newspaper creatively.
- Upcycling used wrapping into something new. Check out these innovative ideas.
- Furoshiki, the beautiful Japanese art of fabric wrapping. We love Hello Snowglobe’s festive designs, and the wraps become part of the gift too! Plus they can be regifted (guilt-free) next year.
7. The white envelope project
The white envelope tradition is one that my family loves. Each year, we place an envelope amongst the branches of the tree. On Christmas day, the envelope is opened to reveal the name of a charity we have donated to. The intention is to help our kids learn gratitude and consider the greater good.
8. Christmas dinner
Each Christmas, around 270,000 tons of food wasted (in the UK alone)! That’s approximately two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million Brussel sprouts. Here are some ways to eat consciously during the festive season:
- Reduce waste – Plan well so you can cater the right amount. Use a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. Ask guests to bring something specific to reduce double-ups and wastage.
- Repurpose your leftovers – There are likely to be some leftovers, so try these innovative ideas to use up all your delicious goodies.
- Choose low-impact foods – We can also reduce our impact by considering the kinds of food we eat. (Meat and dairy, in particular, have the highest food footprint, whereas poultry is lower). This doesn’t mean sacrificing the things you really love, but take a conscious approach. Complement your favourite protein with delicious plant-based options.
9. Christmas table
Reducing our reliance on disposables is not only better for the planet: quite frankly, it just feels a little bit fancy!
- Napkins – Invest in a beautiful set that you can use year after year, or consider upcycled options.
- Crackers – These Christmas crackers are refillable (and they still go off with a bang!). Or try making your own.
- Cutlery and crockery – Don’t be afraid to go for an eclectic assortment! Facebook Marketplace has a multitude of second-hand options. (And you can always resell them afterwards!)
10. Check your travel footprint
Despite the announcement of VTLs, chances are many of us still won’t be travelling far this year, with the silver lining being the savings on flight emissions. But as we embrace the new normal, let’s take a fresh look at how we travel, as well as opting to offset our emissions. Learn more about carbon offsetting here.
As it turns out, creating a green Christmas also helps us get back to the true meaning of Christmas. So, let’s focus on:
- spending time with loved ones (whether in person or virtually),
- opting for reusables wherever possible, and better still, second-hand,
- being conscious with our food choices, and
- giving the gift of memories that will last a lifetime.
May all your Christmases be green!