SUBU's Guide to a Sustainable Christmas

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Tis' the Season to Create Waste

Every year in Britain over 277,000 miles of Christmas wrapping paper is sent to landfills. This is enough to go round the earth’s equatorial circumference 6.91 times.

Most Christmas wrapping paper isn’t recyclable…. But you don’t have to not wrap your presents (although some would prefer that). You can use lengths of fabric following furoshiki (the traditional Japanese art of wrapping items in decorative cloth); there are loads of YouTube videos to see how to do this. This is then reusable year after year.

If you prefer paper, how about using brown paper that is easily recycled and decorate with non-toxic paint or stamp with ink? You can then tie with string or fabric ribbon. You can now get totally recyclable tape to use on your presents as well, no need to peel the tape off before putting the paper in the recycling bin. 

Unsure if your paper is recyclable? Do the scrunch test! If you scrunch your paper into a ball and it stays in a ball, you can recycle it. If the paper retracts, (often the foil, glossy and glittery types) it isn't recyclable. 

Some of these stores are also selling RECYCLABLE wrapping paper this year:

TESCO: 10m in various designs for £1.50. Deal: 3 for 2.

TKMaxx: Various brown paper designs £2.99-5.99

Wilko's: 10m in various designs for £2. Deal: 3 for 2.

TIGER: Decorative strings and fabric ribbons from 99p. 


Oh Christmas Tree, Sustainably 


On average 6 million Christmas trees are thrown away every single year. 14% of people with an artificial tree throw it out every year.

If you buy a real tree year after year make sure it is one with an FSC Certification. Or you can look at renting your tree. More and more companies are offering tree rental as a real sustainable alternative to a cut tree.

If you have an artificial tree, make sure to use it for as many years as possible. If you buy a good quality artificial tree it should last a minimum of 12 years. To be carbon neutral with a real tree it needs to be used for a minimum of 10 years but sadly most people only use them for 4 years.  If you are getting rid of an old artificial tree, please think carefully about disposal so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Charity shops will take artificial trees, or offer your old tree for free on sites such as Freegle, Freecycle or Facebook.


Presents or Presence

Brits will receive unwanted presents worth a staggering £1.7 billion this Christmas.

Buy time not things! Experience gifts provide more happiness than objects according to research. Buy someone a theatre ticket, a Netflix subscription, an annual pass to their favourite attraction. They will get a lot more joy out of these types of gifts than yet another toiletry set! Families can spend quality time together doing amazing experiences and the memories will last a lot longer than the Furby (that was actually really rubbish!)

If you do want to buy physical presents still, opt for consumable presents such as food and drink. These can be shared over the holiday period by all the family. Buy organic clothes that will not only last longer but also come from sustainable sources. They are softer on the skin and are great for people with any skin conditions. High street stores such as H&M are now stocking organic clothes at great price points.

Fed up of getting 10 small, slightly rubbish presents from family members? Why not organise a family secret Santa where you each only buy for 1 person. It gives you a bigger budget for that person and also saves a lot of wasted Christmas presents. You can also put time and thought into what you want to buy for that person, rather than last-minute panic shopping!

Shop locally for your presents. When you buy from a small, independent business you are giving back to the local community. You are keeping a family in business and to be really honest, making them smile!

For those with children consider the Christmas Rule of 4. Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It can actually make you really stop and think about what to buy for your children, so more thought and care can be taken over buying these items.


Eat, Drink and be Merry

We chuck out approximately 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies, 2 million kilos of cheese and 17.2 million Brussel sprouts every single Christmas.

Shop as locally and organically as you can. There are a lot of markets in the local area that means the food miles of your meat or vegetables are as low as possible. Yes, the price may be slightly higher than at the supermarket but you have a full trail of where your food has come from and trust me it will taste a whole lot better! It is much better for us to eat slightly less meat and buy organic meat when we do eat it. Everyone wins in that scenario the animal, the farmer, the customer, and the environment. 

You can get organic alcoholic drinks, they don’t get rid of the hangover, unfortunately, but they are better for the planet.

Reduce the amount you buy! We all buy far too much over Christmas; the easiest way to reduce food waste is to simply not buy as much. The shops are shut for 1 day; the world will not end if Uncle Larry only has 4 sprouts instead of 6.



However you are spending Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful time. 



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