It’s already December and christmas is around the corner. Like every year, you are super excited to celebrate but you wonder about the environmental impact of its celebrations. How can you balance festive times and sustainability? How can you enjoy one of the biggest times of the year without feeling guilty? How to have a more sustainable christmas?
That’s a recurrent question and I feel you! I remember two years ago, 25th december in the morning, my family and I sitting in the living room with our Christmas tree. I love seeing the face of my loved ones when I give them a thoughtful and intentional gift. It was a blast! But then we had to clean up the room and filled a 20L trash bag with wrapping paper that will never EVER be recycled! The guilt and the shame hit me. There is no way I am gonna stop celebrating christmas but I had to find a way to make it more sustainable.
After reading that article, you will have many tools in your hands to celebrate Christmas the sustainable way. Ready to have a blast without the shadow of guilt?
What is wrong with Christmas?
While I really want you to have a guilt free Christmas experience, it’s important to know the facts before we jump to the solutions. Finding reliable data about the impact of christmas on the environment is tough. Indeed there is only a few serious researches available but let me share with you what I found.
According to the bank of England: “ A typical household spends over £800 extra in December.” That money all goes to buying gifts for loved ones, alcohol and food. In theory that is not a problem at all but what happens to those gifts and food? Are they really enjoyed or are they wasted?
Besides, what is the environmental impact of that overconsumption? “Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI-Y), based at the University of York, calculate that three days of Christmas festivities could result in as much as 650 kg of carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions per person.” Emissions come from items such as food, travel, lighting and gifts.
While I could not access the protocol of the research and advise you to take it with a pinch of salt, it gives you an insight of what can go wrong if we don’t spend christmas mindfully.
How to have a more sustainable christmas?
Now that I shared the facts, it’s time to release the pressure! Solutions to have a guilt-free Christmas exist and I am gonna share them with you.
Avoid food waste
Have you ever eaten christmas leftovers for 3 days and still had to throw them away because they dried out? I certainly did but we can easily avoid it. I would recommend that you are careful about portions in the first place. Follow recipe guidelines and ask yourself if you are really gonna be able to finish it all.
If you enjoy having many different sides, anticipate leftovers and plan how you’re gonna handle them. Are you ok with eating lots of the same thing in a row? Can you notify your guests in advance that they should bring a box to take food back home? Share with them directions to warm the dishes up.
Have more vegetarian / vegan options on the dinner table
It’s no secret, meat has a considerable impact on the environment and switching to a plant based diet will reduce your carbon footprint. I get that it is hard for some of you (and your family members) to avoid the traditional turkey. But maybe you could look into plant based dishes as a starter.
You can find veggie christmas recipes here for inspo.
Reduce the carbon footprint of your trip
Christmas is a time for family to gather so it often involves some travelling, especially if you do not live in the same area of the country or the world. You might want to look into train and bus options if possible. That can be a little more difficult if you have tons of christmas gifts but if you gift experiences, you should be ok.
How to have a more sustainable christmas?Consider reusable wrapping gift
I started using fabric to wrap my gifts and my family loves it! We found some pretty fabrics that we store in a bag all year long so we can reuse them. I also tried reusing some old newspaper and while that remains a disposable option, at least I upcycle it.
Sustainable Christmas gift ideas
How to have a more sustainable christmas?Think experiences
I pride myself in gifting experiences that people will love. It reduces waste and the environmental impact, provided that it doesn’t involve too much travel over a short period of time.
Here are some ideas:
- A voucher for a new restaurant so you spend quality time together. (Great option for when covid is over)
- A membership for something they love. An online yoga membership right now would also help support small studios.
- An online workshop: is there anything that this person has been willing to learn for ages and has not started yet?
Vulgarise Gifting Cash
I also think we should vulgarise gifting cash because it tackles the disappointment risk. Society conditioned us to think it is rude and not enjoyable but the person we give it to will for sure make the most of it.
If you are really resistant to it you can make a donation to a charity on the behalf of your loved ones. Help them support a cause they care about. It reduces the impact of your purchase and you do good at the same time.
Another way to give cash “indirectly” is to offer some sort of sustainable investment opportunities. That is a dream gift for me! I have always been interested in investing my money but I refuse to fund fossil fuels projects or companies with shady CSR policies.
Sustainable Physical Gifts
If you really wanna offer a traditional gift, I recommend that you go for a zero waste kit which is a really fun way to get someone started. You may have a look here to find zero waste gift ideas.
I also have a sustainable shop section on the blog where you can find some products I love from brands I believe in. Gonna be perfect if you wanna gift some fashion!
Consider what you’re gonna do with the unwanted gifts
Many gifts are returned each year which proves that some gifts are unwanted. While some people make the effort to return and exchange products, others don’t and store them for years. So listen to me babe, it’s ok to not keep all gifts. If you don’t want it, find an eco way to get rid of it. Exchange it if you have the receipt and a store nearby or sell it on a secondhand app or FB group. You could also re-gift it to someone else if you know that they will make better use of it.
Here we are love, you have in your hands 7 tools and ideas to make christmas guilt-free. how does it feel? I bet you are relieved and super excited to give it a go! If you enjoyed that blog post, I’d love you to join the newsletter. I share loads of sustainable lifestyle tips there on a monthly basis. No spam, pure gold only!