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1. Recycle Christmas Cards
It is estimated that 1 billion cards are thrown away in the UK every year and so an easy way to reduce your waste over Christmas could simply be to recycle. You could even have a positive impact by taking your cards to be recycled at M&S, who plant a tree for every 1000 cards that are returned to them.
2. Have a Veggie-Friendly Christmas Dinner
Christmas is traditionally a very meaty time. The turkey, pigs in blankets and stuffing as well as the eggs and dairy in the puddings and cheeseboard all mean that a lot of animal products go into creating the traditional Christmas dinner. However, a lot of water, grain and land are used in their production (it takes 4 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of pork) and it is not at all sustainable. Animal agriculture is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and so replacing the traditional meaty dishes with a few more vegetables this Christmas could go a long way to reducing your festive environmental footprint.
3. Buy Locally
On the subject of food, Christmas is a perfect time to make the most of the nearby farmers’ markets to stock up for the holidays. Not only does buying locally have a minimal environmental impact due to fewer transport related emissions, but is a great way to support local people and businesses.
4. Get a Live Christmas Tree
Christmas trees are perhaps one of the most beloved Christmas traditions, but it can sometimes be confusing as to what is the best option for the environment. Although artificial trees may seem like the greener option - they can be reused for many years - their production actually requires a lot of resources, often metal and plastic, and they cannot be recycled so usually end up in landfill. A real tree is a far more eco-friendly option, as long as it is recycled correctly once the festive season has finished. Even better would be to use a live tree which can be kept in a pot as it grows and eventually planted outside.
5. Don't Buy Unwanted Gifts
At Christmas it is so easy to feel pressured into giving gifts for the sake of it but, not only is this an unnecessary financial strain on us, it puts massive pressure on the environment too. This needless use of energy and resources creates an excess of presents which often end up being unused or thrown away only to be dumped in landfill sites. There is a lot more to Christmas than present-giving, and remembering this can have far reaching impacts, not least for the environment.
6. Buy Eco-Friendly Gifts
If the idea of not buying anything at all seems a bit extreme, there are many ways in which gift-giving can be made greener! Buying from charity shops or giving homemade gifts uses far fewer resources than buying everything brand-new and can result in gifts that are more unique and personal. A great eco-friendly opportunity is to sponsor a cause on behalf of the person receiving the gift. Options for this can include supporting a child’s education in a developing country, protecting an area of rainforest or adopting an endangered animal.
OCS Media and Research Team
The latest in climate science and policy from the OCS team