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How to have a sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas

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Megan Murray
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How to have the most sustainable Christmas ever, from what to eat on Christmas day to how to reduce gift wrapping waste

Sound the ‘understatement of the century’ klaxon, but Christmas is a busy time. From organising family, catching up with old friends, hours of prepping for the best dinner of the year to getting your Christmas shopping in order – just thinking about it makes us want to flop into a cosy armchair, preferably by an open fire, and have a snooze. 

But although there’s often a lot on our minds over the festive period, we can’t forget what this wonderful – but excessive – time of year does to the planet. With fast fashion seeing us order a new dress for the office party at a day’s notice, piles of food wastage from indulgent dinners and all of those presents (and the wrapping that hid them) being tossed aside after Christmas day, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be more conscious. 

So, in order to help you pull off your most sustainable Christmas ever, we’ve put together some top tips so that you can continue trying to make a difference, even when you realise you forgot to get Auntie Margaret a present and the parsnips have burnt. 

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Promote sustainability in your gift choices

As consumers we can use our spending power to show corporations it’s in their interests to make sustainable products. Combine this with the education and awareness you’re spreading to the recipients of your eco-friendly gifts, and you’ve already done some good by shopping sustainably.

Veganism is more popular than ever, and of course many brands that specialise in vegan products also put environmental benefits to the top of their list, too. Check out our vegan gift guide which covers everything from vegan beauty products and fashion to vegan champagne and experiences.

We’ve also popped some gift ideas, both small and large, below from some of our favourite brands out there flying the eco-friendly flag loud and proud to give you some inspiration. 

  • Riley Studio cap

    Made from recycled plastic bottles, Riley Studio’s chic cap is cool and kind to the planet.

    £25, Riley Studio

  • Gagi cowrie shell pendant necklace

    Yala’s necklaces are made by artisans in Nairobi who are paid more than three times the average daily wage in their area.

    £45, Yala 

  • Dior glass straws

    You’ll never be tempted to use a plastic straw again when you’ve got one of these hand-blown glass ones in your bag. 

    £120, Dior

  • 'Plant A Bee Meadow' gift set

    This natural beauty gift set comes with a tin of wildflower seed balls which can be distributed in a field, a garden or window box to provide valuable wildflowers to feed and protect our bees.

    £25, Bee Good

Be mindful of waste when gift wrapping

Gift wrap game reaches a whole new level over the festive season. For example, take a gander on Pinterest and you’ll find all manner of inspiration pictures from mini baubles fixed on top of elegant bows, to hand-painted wrapping paper with matching twine. But as beautiful as all of this is, most of it does unfortunately get peeled off and thrown straight in the bin after being used. So, in a bid to be less wasteful, we’ve got some easy tips to keep in mind when devising your wrapping plan this Christmas.

1. Use old newspapers instead

Ditch actual gift wrap and instead make the most of what you have lying around, like old newspapers! The monochrome prints will look festive when combined with a red bow and it can be recycled afterwards.

2. Save your gift wrap for next year

You might not be able to try this one out right away, but prepare for next year by carefully unwrapping this year’s gifts and saving the paper they come in to use again in the future.

3. Forage for gift-toppers

Save money on trinkets to jazz up the top of your present and go rustic instead. Take a walk and pick up some leaves, small branches, acorns and wintery flowers to finish your gift wrap with.

Read our full guide to sustainable gift wrapping here

Support eco-friendly Christmas activities

Christmas is all about indulgence, but as we become more environmentally conscious as a society, many of our favourite festivities are getting an eco-update. 

Visit an eco-friendly Christmas market

We love the hustle and bustle of events like Winter Wonderland, but now there’s no need to sacrifice your sustainability credentials when enjoying mulled wine and some crafty stalls. In London there’s quite a few to pick from including Winter Wild Conscious Christmas Fair in Hammersmith on 7 December, the Sustainable Christmas Market which will be holding zero-waste workshops in Clapton on 1 December and the Zero Waste Christmas Market on 7 December on Brick Lane (there’s also dates in Manchester and Brighton). 

Join a Christmas litter pick-up event

Keep Britain Tidy helps organise litter pick-up events the whole year round, up and down the country. But why not use Christmas as an excuse to be extra selfless, and tidy up your area? Not only will you be doing good for the environment, but there’s nothing like a bit of camaraderie at Christmas. 

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Go vegan for Christmas dinner 

We all know veganism is better for the environment, so if you’re really serious about showing your commitment to a greener Christmas day, shelf the turkey and opt for a plant-based menu instead. 

And hold the groans, because swapping those staple meat favourites doesn’t have to mean a meal that’s any less tasty. In fact, we happen to know of a plethora of meat-free Christmas dinner ideas and even some vegan-friendly snacks that you can enjoy over the festive period, too.

From whole maple roasted cauliflower to bangers in blankets, check out our vegan Christmas dinner guide to find out the best plant-based recipes and how to do them.

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Images: Pinterest / Getty 


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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