Updated: Sep 22
Each year Christmas in the UK produces over 688000 tonnes of waste, making it the most wasteful day of the year, the waste includes around 114000 tonnes of plastic packaging, of which only 40% is recycled.
With soaring energy costs, climate change, and plastic pollution, it's more important than ever to try and limit the environmental impacts of celebrating Christmas.
Here are some ideas to help you have an eco-friendly Christmas
First off, the more the merrier! What this means is that it is cheaper and more energy efficient to cook one meal and heat one home than to do so for many houses. So get the family and friends around to yours for a big get together, you’ll also need less heating too! win - win.
In the Home
Cooking the Christmas dinner in the oven will produce more heat than usual, allowing you to put on less central heating than usual. Also make sure that you close your curtains to keep your home as insulated as possible. Make sure that you switch off those Christmas lights when you go to bed, and be sure to get LED lights if buying new ones.
Gifts & Cards
Did you know that 27000 miles of wrapping paper and 1 billion cards are thrown away each year? E-cards and reusable wrapping or repurposed newspaper are much more environmentally friendly, especially considering that each kilogram of wrapping paper is responsible for emitting 3.5 kg of CO2 during its production. Try to ensure that you give gifts that are both wanted, and that will last.
A note on Christmas crackers, did you know that most of the gifts or toys inside don’t even make it off the dinner table. Try using crackers that only have jokes and paper hats, or something useful inside if they must. Non-electrical gifts almost always have lower carbon footprints than electricals.
Let's Talk Christmas Trees
Is a real or an artificial Christmas tree better for the environment? As you may expect this depends on a few factors, if you keep and reuse an artificial tree more than 7-20 times (depending which one) then it is more environmentally friendly than buying and disposing of a commercially grown tree each year. However, potted trees are able to be reused year after year as they can be replanted, reducing the carbon footprint emitted by transport.
Disposal of real trees is the second part of this variable environmental impact, replanting trees is the best option, while chipping and spreading the tree on your garden limits the CO2 footprint to around 3.5kg. Burning your tree has no net effect on the environment as the CO2 taken up while the tree grows is released into the atmosphere. The worst option of all, is disposing of the tree in landfill, where it produces methane while breaking down, methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas as compared to CO2.
Each year at Christmas, 1.6 billion tonnes of food is wasted across the world, including 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies. Eating this meal is the focal point of the day, but we can reduce the carbon footprint of our dinner while maintaining the Christmas spirit! Beef has a higher carbon footprint than Turkey, which in turn has a higher carbon footprint than vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Cheese has a surprisingly high carbon footprint! Be sure to use your leftovers from the meal, there are plenty of creative ways to utilise these wonderful ingredients, a family favourite for us is turkey curry, or cuban sandwiches!
The most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t take a few people doing it perfectly. It takes all of us doing our best, however imperfect. If you are able to implement just a few of these environmentally friendly changes to your Christmas, then you will be helping. It is already a stressful time of year, so do your best, enjoy the time with your family, and give yourself a break.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at NAUTRA.