7 simple ways to have an Eco-friendly Christmas

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Peace on earth and good will to all mankind. Put your money where your mouth is and go green for Christmas with The Sprout’s guide.

We all know we could do more to protect the planet. But just like how we love to eat too much at Christmas time, even the most environmentally tuned in people tend to throw caution to the wind over Christmas. Here’s seven ways you can improve your reindeer-shaped carbon footprint.

Bin wrapping paper

Chances are all the presents under your tree come wrapped in gaudy paper, a range of colours, where pictures of Santa and his reindeers abound. You might throw it all away, which obviously multiplied by everyone in the world doing it has a devastating effect. Don’t look so smug if you recycle it either- all that shiny glossy stuff wrapping paper is dusted in means it’s useless to try and recycle it. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is! Consider using brown parcel paper- which can be recycled- for that vintage look, or even old newspapers- because if you’re re-purposing something, you’re already re-using. 

Visit relatives sustainably

One of the biggest parts of Christmas for me is visiting my family. Almost everyone has the day off (save for a few unfortunate people working in hospitality, and the Meic team) and goes round the various houses we reside in saying good-day, maybe sharing a mince pie on the way! So share a car, and avoid your neighbours getting annoyed at a street full of relatives’ vehicles. If you all live local, why not walk or cycle round, and leave the car at home for the day. That way, you might even get to have a glass of sherry without ruining anyone’s day…

Set the family up for a “green” year ahead

Why not try buying a few things for the family that can help them live that woke green life they’ve always dreamed of? Metal straws, bamboo toothbrushes, packaging free shampoo, there’s now a whole gamut of eco products you can purchase. If you’re anywhere near Roath, the new Ripple Living shop has set up which is packaging free (see our interview with founder Sophie Rae here). You could also try Lush, which has a branch on Queen Street and a focus on sustainability. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you could even encourage family members to ditch the car and start cycling short journeys by buying them some kit to get back on the road (or, preferably, a bike lane- Cardiff Council tell me they’re working on it)- a stylish hi-viz jacket or pannier bags can go a long way. 

Don’t buy gifts for the sake of it

Not a tip, just my dad’s garage

Whilst it is nice to buy your folks something, check with them- subtly- that they actually want something. Avoid buying small novelty gifts that will break or be discarded after a day or two. Consider making a pact with your concerned family members not to buy each other anything, but instead to spend some quality time with each other. 

Flexatarian Christmas Dinners

The evidence nowadays definitely points to meat being detrimental to the environment- so reduce your meat consumption this Christmas if you feel like it’s not your favourite thing about the season. Of course, asking Brits to give up their beloved turkey roast dinner is like asking Yanks to stop driving those big pick-up trucks they love so much. It’s not really going to happen this side of ever. Which is why you can get on board the new “flexatarian” trend: occasionally getting a veggie-based dinner in with the usual meaty fare. Maybe stick to the turkey on Christmas day, but for the rest of the holidays try and rustle your family up some scrumptious vegetarian and vegan recipes. 

Rent your extra furniture

Not got enough extra chairs and cutlery in the house for all your guests? Don’t go rushing out to IKEA or BHF just yet- have you considered just renting stuff for the Christmas period? The new site Fat Llama lets you do exactly that, and there’s even some free £25 or so to spend when you first sign up.

Make your Xmas tree official

I don’t want to end on a sad note, but the Christmas tree, that great symbol of Christmas on these isles, is probably also the most ecologically impactful part of Christmas as well. Whether you get plastic or real, it’s never going to be great. Plastic trees last for many years, but take a huge amount of energy to create, whereas real trees are natural but millions of them are discarded after the season each year. The advice is to get Forestry Sustainability Commission (FSC) certified trees, which are sustainably grown. Wales247 also reports that charity Size of Wales will be asking Welsh tree-erectors to donate towards planting a tree in Uganda to offset some of their environmental impact. 

Former Sprout writer Megan added that you could always try Eco Tinsel- read more on their website here. 

Thanks Megan for the tip- follow her on Instagram, and don’t forget to follow The Sprout too. 

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