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The Ultimate Guide On How To Have Yourself A Very Merry Sustainable Christmas

Enjoying the festive season to the bitter end doesn’t have to cost the Earth.

It's time to start dreaming of a green one, so here are all the top ideas and easy wins to pull off an eco-friendly festive holiday...

Sound the ‘understatement of the century’ klaxon, but Christmas is a busy time. From organising family, catching up with old friends, hours of prepping for the best dinner of the year to getting your Christmas shopping in order – just thinking about it makes us want to flop into a cosy armchair, preferably by an open fire, and have a snooze.

But although there’s often a lot on our minds over the festive period, we can’t forget what this wonderful – but excessive – time of year does to the planet. Experts reckon that during the festive season alone, we produce an extra 30 per cent of rubbish – that’s around three million tonnes consumed and discarded. Our mass consumption, thanks to everything from excessive food to gifting, is linked to environmental damage of epic proportions – hardly great when we know the state the planet’s in already.

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Want to do better this year? Here’s how to have a jolly good sustainable Christmas…

Brown paper packages tied up with string

For the thousands of gifts you have signed, sealed and are ready to deliver this Christmas – bear in mind that all that glitters is definitely not gold. All wrapping paper with glitter on it, attached to it or filtered into the paper-making process cannot be recycled. Instead, opt for a festive bag the gifted can reused or brown wrapping paper á la your school days.

If it’s good enough for Ann and Barry…

Lessen the meat intake

According to the Soil Association, "food is the single most important, everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact".

Opt for a less meat-heavy meal every so often and be surprised about how the other half eats.

Cut down on card waste

1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households each year, according to Imperial College researchers. E-cards (those sent online via email or social media) are becoming an increasingly popular alternative.

They cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save you the hassle of trying to haggle with post office workers come December 22.

Combat food waste

Food waste is chronically high at every stage throughout the year, but festive binging definitely takes the biscuit.

When planning your Christmas feast, the most eco-friendly way to dine is to eat local and organic wherever possible. Plan your meals carefully so you are not buying food you and those surrounding you won’t eat.

Hefty amounts of food waste, as well as 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil, are thrown away each year over Christmas.

Vegetable leftovers can be easily reused or composted and cleaned aluminium foil can often be recycled at many recycling points. 

Turn off the box

The average person watches up to 30 hours of television over Christmas week. This uses a huge amount of energy that could easily be avoided to help the environment.

Give your eyes a break and opt for a good book or shake off the cobwebs with a stroll.

Let there (not always) be light

Not all lights are created equal, but all should be turned off when you leave the room.

Indoor LED fairy lights are a great option when decorating your home for Christmas. They don’t need much energy to run and are much more efficient than standard or even energy-saving bulbs. LED lights generally don’t produce heat, making them ideal for the tree while also reducing the risk of fire hazard.

One, two, tree?

An estimated six million Christmas trees are sent to landfill every year in the UK alone, meaning a lot of intensive production and unfortunately a lot of waste. Ultimately, when it comes to faking it or not, your best bet is to go real.

Real trees can be easily recycled in an eco-friendly way. Either chip it and compost it or take it to your local Christmas tree recycling centre for absolutely nothing.

Already have a fake tree? Don’t panic. Use it until the bitter end and when you eventually replace it, you can look into more environmentally sound options.

Want to take things one step further? Buy a potted tree with roots, meaning you can let it grow and use it again and again. Here's where you can find your local grower.

Main image by Annie Spratt 

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