Is a sustainable Christmas possible?!

18 December 2019

Christmas is not known as the most sustainable of times, being more commonly associated with excess – in terms of food, waste and consumerism. So is a sustainable Christmas actually possible?

We’ve been making small changes at home over the past few years and this year it definitely feels like there’s been a positive shift in the volume of excess. Here’s six tips for less stressed and more sustainable festivities.

We invested in an Infinitree

Our beautiful wooden Infinite-tree is in its fourth year now and still set to last our lifetime. No more debates about whether to buy fake or real trees in our house! For those who enjoy a real tree, there are lots of options out there – from renting trees, to living trees. And for others, the range of alternative Christmas trees is, perhaps, infinite?! Fake trees count as an Infinitree – just make sure it’s a good one that will last at least 10 uses to balance out the carbon footprint of yearly real ones.

We’ve set up a family gift list

No more piles of random gifts under the tree and panic purchases for us! Everyone puts what they want or need on the list. And then you definitely get things you really need or will cherish. And it’s interesting what people ask for – I never would have pegged my family for local bookshop tokens or animal adoptions, but little did I know! I’ve taken to putting the boxes I keep the Chrimbo decorations in under the tree now to create an illusion of excess. It means the tree looks just as lovely after the unwrapping frenzy, and that lazy ol me doesn’t have to put the boxes away!

I’ve made reusable crackers

They’re still a work in progress to get the ultimate cracker experience, but I’m pleased with the results so far. Two napkins per cracker wrapped around a toilet roll – which contains two hats, two jokes and two toys, all saved from last year. So you only need one cracker between two and if one person feels left out you just rebuild and pull it again! I used a dinosaur single duvet and some remnants to make the napkins – and tried to keep them neutral enough that we can use them as napkins throughout the year.

We’re eating different food

Two of my family have gone veggie in the year so butternut squash wellington and vegan pigs in blankets are joining our Christmas menu. For the others we’re sourcing local organic meat – and as we need less of it there’s really very little price hit. We’ve also resurrected the old tradition of Stir-Up Sunday. It’s a great excuse to get the family together, drink wine and make our own Christmas pudding and Christmas cake together. It will be interesting to see how much food we throw away this year – useful intel for Christmas 2020.

We’re more inventive with wrapping options

With 227k miles of wrapping paper used every year in the UK, and the glittery stuff not even recyclable, we enjoy the challenge of getting more creative. Brown paper and reused ribbons / string saved from other gifts are our go-to wrapping option. Remnants of fabric are a fun way to wrap gifts (am I mean that I generally take them back after?!). Or for some people, just leaving it in the original packaging is perfectly acceptable (in my world that generally means brothers). With so many creative ideas out there, who needs boring glitter paper anyway?

We’ve invested time in making our own decorations

I must admit I get great pleasure in unpacking all the homemade decorations each year from our Christmas sack: dried oranges segments for the tree; a pine cone wreath that sits among paper snowflakes made from Ikea instructions… Natural decorations are not only beautiful but will also compost down once their lifespan is over. The only decoration that hasn’t lasted the distance was a popcorn garland. I did keep it for two years but that did seem to be its limit. The birds loved it after, and I’ve made a more robust pine cone garland for the tree instead, which should last as long as the Infinitree. 

So is a sustainable Christmas possible? Yes – I think it actually is and it feels good too.

Enjoy a wonderful break one and all.