Are you ready for a green Christmas?
Kitty Logan in London

For those who celebrate Christmas, the holidays are a time of indulgence - eating, drinking, buying and sharing gifts. 

This surge in consumption inevitably creates hundreds of tonnes of excess waste, including plastic materials that cannot be recycled. 

"All of that waste that we enjoy just for a minute as we're opening our presents, or opening the food, it doesn't just disappear when we put it out after Christmas," says Eve Warlow, Marketing Manager at City to Sea, an organization which campaigns against plastic pollution. 

"It ends up polluting our environment, our beaches, our rivers, our seas."

Campaigners from several environmental groups, including City to Sea and the World Wildlife Fund, are sharing tips online this year to help make the Christmas season more sustainable - starting with what we give and how we wrap it. 

Popular shiny wrapping paper contains non-recyclable materials, for example, as do ribbons and glitter. 

"A really easy swap there would be just to use brown paper, which is really easily recyclable. And the same with tape – sellotape is also not recyclable, but you can swap for paper tape," recommends Warlow.

Sparkly plastic decorations can also be swapped out for something more natural, such as pine cones.


Shiny, glittery wrapping paper is usually not recyclable. /Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Creative

Shiny, glittery wrapping paper is usually not recyclable. /Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Creative


Putting more festive treats on our plates than we can really eat also generates vast amounts of food waste

"It's very, very important to choose an eco-friendly menu and a good menu because food has a huge, huge impact on nature, on deforestation on biodiversity loss and on climate change," says Eva Alessi, Head of Sustainability at the World Wildlife Fund in Italy.

Her advice is to opt for more vegetarian meals, using local and seasonal produce and make the most of leftover food. We also use more energy lighting Christmas trees, streets and shop windows at this time of year. 

Campaigners say choosing LED bulbs can make a difference, as well as remembering to switch lights off at night. Another recommendation is to opt for a real tree instead of a plastic one, especially if it is sourced locally. But what really counts is composting the tree after the season ends, rather than throwing it away. 
Many companies now offer potted trees to be replanted later or even reused the following year.

We can change how we shop too, leaving the car at home and learning to be more selective about purchases – opting for plastic-free toys, second-hand items and non-material gifts. 

And one of the best ways to achieve a greener Christmas - is to avoid giving those gifts that no one really wants. 

"We're over-consuming resources, we're heating our climate, we are changing all nature," says Eva Alessi. "From the tree we buy, to the food we eat, everything, no matter how small or big, can make a huge difference."


Cover image: OLI SCARFF/AFP

Search Trends