Sustainable Christmas: S & S Top Tips

At a Glance

Will Santa’s sleigh be an e-vehicle? Did Mrs Clause pack his refillable water bottle? Is he operating a boxing day wrapping collection run to see in 2020?

NOBODY loves a green grinch or sustainable scrooge and feeling festive certainly shouldn’t be dampened by extreme opinions on environmentalism. Whilst Christmas is a time many have pinned as the most wasteful of the year, the holiday season shared with friends and family is the most magical.

This short and sweet feature explores opportunities for a more sustainable Christmas, whether its interior decisions, feasting, gifts that give back or even wrapping! Sharing some of my favourite tips, tricks and companies I’ve found for those last-minute shoppers.

In order to contextualise why we need to adopt a green (as well as of course white) Christmas, here are an array of facts:  

  • The UK bins about £42 million worth of gifts at Christmas.
  • 27th December is known as ‘boxing up day’ where over £70 million worth of gifts are sold on Ebay.
  • If every UK household swapped a string of incandescent lights for its LED equivalent, we could save over £11 million and 29,000 tonnes of CO2, just over the 12 days of Christmas.
  • The UK consumes 80% more food over the Christmas season than the rest of the year, spending an average of £174 for 25th Dec alone!! £40 on average per person is wasted food. Collectively, we bin 230,000 tonnes of unneeded Christmas ‘treats’ (equivalent to 74 million mince pies or 2 million turkeys).
  • More than half of us re-use last year’s wrapping paper.
  • Londoners get through 38,000 tonnes of paper/cards annually, enough to wrap around Big Ben over 34,000 times.

In Focus

At Home

When it’s time to choose a tree (probably for next year now) remember to check if it’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council that guarantees wildlife and the environment has been respected in the growing process.

Following the festivities, recycle your tree!  recyclenow enables you to locate drop off points close to home where your tree can be turned into chippings or take it to your dump to be added to green waste and repurposed into garden foliage for 2020!

Invest in baubles and decorations that will last a lifetime and not end up in landfill.

Purchase a smart meter to monitor your energy powering all those lights!

If every household in the UK got a smart meter right now, 11% of the government’s net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

Purchase LED lights because they use up to 80% less energy!

Make a pop at the table with eco-friendly crackers, check out a selection here.

On The Table

Food consumption and waste at Christmas can be a little daunting. My tip is plan better and take pride in the provenance of the most beloved meal of the year!!!

Shop and support locally where you can. Make a trip to your butchers, fishmongers, delicatessens etc.  A number of options include Swillington Organic FarmCoombe Farm OrganicCross Lanes Organic Farm and Springfield Poultry, FarmdropAbel & Cole and Riverford.

Nobody is saying ditch the turkey or pigs in blankets but perhaps switch one or two meat dishes for a less carbon footprint heavy option with some dairy free vegetable-based alternatives! Think roasted vegetable wreaths, mushroom wellington, sprout salads which are delicious in equal parts.

Have a number of recipes lined up for the leftovers! Turkey pies, bubble and squeak, soups, you name it.

Preserve food for the future with Beeswax wraps as opposed to cling film.

Download Olio for sharing any waste after all the festivities.

Waitrose is offering refillable wine bottles/beer growlers to reduce waste. They are now also trialling fruit/veg, cereals and laundry detergent in a select number of stores. GO!

(Check out my article on food waste tips here)

(For sustainable tipples & beverages check out my recommendations here).

Under The Tree

Swap foil, glitter or plastic for fabric.  Unfortunately, sparkly wrapping whilst aesthetically pleasing on the eye is not destined for repurposing so perhaps leave this at the check out and embrace something equally as chic! Why not trial fabric wrapping taking inspiration from the Japanese art of Japan furoshiki. This practice sees and art sees gifts tie up in knots utilising materials. Try the below after a few mulled wines for some added entertainment!

Take a look at Re-Wrapped for paper inspiration. Their range consists of 100% recycled unbleached paper and card. As well as printing with vegetable based inks, everything is able to be recycled once more prolonging its life and utility!

They are some presents just so special they require ribbons! If so, take a look at vvrouleaux.Based in London, they turn plastic bottles into ribbons. Seven1 Litre plastic bottles can produce 100 meters of beautiful ribbon. Talk about a win win!

For further inspiration take a look at this article via Stylist on sustainable wrapping.

Gifts That Give Back

Being sustainable at Christmas does by NO means eliminate gifts from the agenda. If anything, it is a time to treat yourself and your loved ones to something luxurious, special, and that can last a life time. Personalisation, home-made, experiential or purchased from companies/B Corps that have added environmental and social value are my go to.  

Here are some I love:

Arthouse Unlimited

Offering a range of treats, trinkets and treasures and are a charity presenting the artistic talents of adults living with learning and physical difficulties who require varying levels of support.

Sheep Inc

If your loved one is in need of a warm sweater, you could also consider a woolly knit from Sheep Inc, a carbon negative brand that lets you adopt a sheep with each purchase. My list is absolutely endless but these are two of my favourite at the moment.

Organic Savanna

A true sustainable beauty brand. 100% of profits help create jobs & fund children’s education in local communities of Kenya. This is a truly moving social project, I encourage you to read the full story.

Patagonia & Ponch for all of your winter outdoor pursuits.

Sana Jardin pins itself as the world’s first socially conscious luxury fragrance house, free of all the bad stuff. More importantly their sustainable movement creates positive social impact for local female entrepreneurs teaching them independent skills from harvesting, financial literacy etc.

Stojo. Keep cups are cool but collapsible cup makers Stojo win my affection as space savers with their innovative designs.

General places to browse:  

Not On The High Street


The Ethical Superstore

Final Thoughts

It is the most wonderful time of the year, wishing you all the merriest of Christmases and S & S will be back in the new year and decade! A X  

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