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16 top tips for a sustainable Christmas

Top tips for a sustainable Christmas.
Top tips for a sustainable Christmas.

Check out our top tips on how to make your seasonal festivities more sustainable this year.

Sustainable shopping

1. Don’t forget you’re reusable bags: Today, single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year but we know it’s not our will to change that’s the issue but the real challenge is just remembering to grab those reusable bags.

2. Shop local: When you buy locally it means that you minimize the transportation pollution and costs associated with delivering your goods.

3. Wooden Toys: Ditch the plastic this year and opt for wood instead. Wooden toys often last longer than plastic alternatives, withstanding energetic play and tantrums, meaning they can be handed down through the generations. What’s more, they’re recyclable too.

4. Mindful fashion: Many studies have found that the fashion industry is one of the largest industrial polluters. Although there’s no perfect solution to consuming responsibly there are many great brands that make it possible to keep the fun and excitement of exchanging Christmas presents whilst protecting the environment, people and animals. From sustainable practices and respect for human rights to the use of recycled materials, here are some sustainable brands to help you get started: Finisterre, Patagonia, Toms and Girlfriend Collective.

5. Shop Concern Gifts: Go the extra mile this Christmas, literally and give a Concern gift instead. Concern offers a range of charity gifts that fill a stocking without adding to a landfill. From goats and chickens to school uniforms and emergency food, you’ll not only be reducing waste, but you’ll also be helping to transform the lives of people living in poverty across the globe. Visit our online shop today.

Imperishable presents

Fabric-wrapped gift. Photo: David-Olivier Gascon/Unsplash
Fabric-wrapped gift. Photo: David-Olivier Gascon/Unsplash

6. Get Christmas wrapped up: Reuse last year’s gift bags, opt for recycled paper and tape-free wrapping methods or why not try wrapping gifts with fabric which can be reused year after year.

7. Send Christmas Green-tings: Look for cards that are FSC certified. This guarantees the cards have been produced sustainably and ethically. Check out our range of charity Christmas cards at our online shop.  All cards are FSC certified and recyclable and all come wrapped in biodegradable cellophane. What’s more, all the money goes to help families and communities in need.

Don’t forget: Recycle or compost any cards you receive in January.

Festive food and drink done right

Veg in a net bag. Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
Veg in a net bag. Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

8. Reduce your food waste and packaging: Only buy what you need, buy loose fruit and veg and get creative with leftovers. Refill shops are also a great way to reduce packaging waste and you can choose your quantities so no need to buy more than necessary.

9. Ditch the disposable cups: We all love a festive coffee but be sure to bring your own reusable cup. A lot of coffee shops offer discounts on the price of your drink when you use an eco-cup – a cheap shot indeed!

10. Eat more plants: A lot more people are switching to a plant-based diet by either cutting down on their meat consumption or going cold turkey entirely, (no pun intended). The Farming of vegetables has a lower carbon footprint than animal farming but we still need to choose them mindfully. Local and seasonal veg means fewer transport miles and artificial ripening methods. Lucky for us potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sprouts are all grown in the UK. There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes online and fast food chains are increasingly offering meat-free alternatives.

Decorations don't have to be destructive

Potted Christmas tree. Photo: Carolyn Christine/Unsplash
Potted Christmas tree. Photo: Carolyn Christine/Unsplash

11. O Christmas Tree:  If you’re a firm believer that Christmas isn’t Christmas without a real tree, then worry not, the carbon trust has found that real trees have a smaller carbon footprint than artificial trees. Just make sure it’s FSC-certified and dispose of your tree correctly once the season is over. And remember to buy UK-grown varieties like Spruce or Nordman.

This isn’t to say all artificial trees are bad, according to the Carbon Trust you would need to reuse your tree for at least 10 years for it to be greener than a real tree. So if those pine needles are enough to drive you mad here are some top tips for making your artificial tree sustainable:

  • Buy a classic green tree as other modern styles may date.
  • Don’t buy pre-lit trees as lights can be difficult to fix 
  • Think about buying second-hand from eBay or Facebook marketplace. 

If you’re on the hunt for something alternative how about a potted tree. Once Christmas is over you can pop it in your garden in its pot and bring it back in again ready to decorate the following year.  Or go that extra mile and rent a tree - care for a tree over the festive period and return it to be replanted for use again the next year.

12. Wreath please: Go fresh by purchasing from your local florist or why not get creative and try your hand at making your own using foliage and flowers from your back garden.

13. Reusable advent calendar: Invest in a reusable advent calendar and fill it with an array of handmade treats and gifts.

Celebrations (not commiserations for the planet)

Volunteers outside a shop front in Northern Ireland. Photo: Darren Vaughan
Volunteers outside a shop front in Northern Ireland. Photo: Darren Vaughan

14. Get Christmas ready: Reuse, borrow, or rent. If you still can’t find anything to suit try shopping second-hand - our Concern shops in Northern Ireland are stocked and ready for the party season.

15. At the table: Avoid single-use napkins and opt for some eco-friendly fabric crackers which can be refilled and used year after year.

16. Use energy wisely: From the Christmas lights and non-stop cooking to Christmas movie marathons and Alexa on loop, it’s no doubt Christmas uses a lot of energy. Not only does energy use have an impact on climate change but with the cost of living crisis affecting us all it’s never been more important to use energy wisely. Try changing to energy-efficient light bulbs, unplug computers, televisions, laptops and other electronic devices when not in use, wash clothes at lower temperatures and install a smart thermostat. More energy-saving tips can be found here.

Shop front of one of Concern's Northern Ireland shops. Photo: Darren Vaughan
Shop front of one of Concern's Northern Ireland shops. Photo: Darren Vaughan

Since the early 1990s, the number of extreme weather-related disasters has doubled. Harvests have decreased, and food prices have risen as a result. The climate crisis is fuelling the hunger crisis, and with our food systems more global than ever, we all stand to lose. While climate change can be a difficult topic to fully understand, the human impacts are clear so this Christmas even one small change could make a big difference.

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