Christmas is the most important time in the retail calendar. As people rush to buy food, presents, and decorations for the big day retailers enjoy their busiest period of the year, but with the additional sales and consumer demand, comes higher carbon emissions. It is estimated that the 3 days of Christmas festivities are responsible for approximately 5.5% of the UK’s annual carbon footprint.
So, with that in mind and as a company dedicated to helping lower carbon emissions, we want to shine a spotlight on 12 ways that Christmas can be done sustainably and with a reduced carbon footprint.
1. Rent a Christmas tree: Everyone loves a Christmas tree. ‘Getting the tree up’ is a sure-fire way of signalling that Christmas has begun. Sadly though, Christmas trees come with a big carbon cost. While artificial trees draw the most attention with a 6ft 5” tree having the equivalent to about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions! This is more than twice that of a real tree.
However, there is another way. By renting a tree you can enjoy the same Christmas buzz without the damaging greenhouse gas emissions. Not only that but renting a tree is also cheaper and far less hassle than buying one.
2. Wrap gifts with recycled paper or fabric: Did you know that 1kg of wrapping paper is responsible for 3kg of CO2 emissions during its production process? And that in the UK 5 million tonnes of paper are sent to landfill every year?
The problem is that single-use wrapping paper contains fibres that aren’t possible to recycle. What’s more, it is often dyed and laminated and can also contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, glitter, and plastics. Often, landfill and incineration are usually the only options for disposal. The impact of wrapping paper can be lessened simply by using recycled paper or even reusing what you have.
3. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark: Sending just a single Christmas card in the post creates on average 140g of carbon. Alternatively, ecards have much lower carbon footprints.
If sending in the post though, buying cards with the FSC mark ensures that the paper used has been sourced correctly with proceeds going towards supporting Britain’s woodlands.
4. Plantable Christmas cards: Another option for a greener season greeting is a plantable card. Being completely compostable, with no nasty chemicals, many plantable also come with wildflower seeds within the paper. Rather than throwing them in the bin, they can be planted to grow a beautiful bed of flowers.
5. Eco-friendly crackers: Crackers are a big part of the Christmas dinner table, but they often contain large amounts of plastic and difficult to recycle elements.
Plastic-free options exist at many retailers. Alternatively, have some fun with it and make your own with environmentally friendly gifts to go inside.
6. Invest in a reusable advent calendar: Chocolate advent calendars have become a mainstay of the Christmas build-up, but many feature materials such as paper, card, plastic, and metallic foil, which can all be a challenge to recycle. As such, there is an increasing move towards reusable calendars instead.
Purchasing a reusable calendar such as the ones listed here is a great way to reduce waste during the Christmas period while also allowing you to easily mix it up with new treats every year!
7. Switch to LED Christmas lights: Which do you prefer, coloured lights or white lights? Whatever your choice, switching to LED lights is a great option. If every household in the UK swapped a string of incandescent lights for its LED equivalent, we could save more than £11 million and 29,000 tonnes of CO2, just over the 12 days of Christmas!
These are huge savings for both the planet and your pocket, with no downsides to worry about. On top of the reduction in wasted energy, LEDs also have a longer lifespan, are more robust, and are non-toxic too.
8. Make your own wreath: Wreaths make a beautiful and fun Christmas decoration, which can quickly brighten any door. The good thing about wreaths too is that they are easily made from natural materials such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, and pine fronds.
Making a wreath from natural materials means it is instantly better for the environment and can be easily composted once the holiday period ends. In addition, wreath making can be a fun activity with family and friends.
9. Or buy an eco-friendly wreath: If making a wreath sounds like too much hard work, then why not buy an eco-friendly one instead? Many retailers offer eco-friendly wreaths alongside artificial options.
10. Reduce food waste: Each year an estimated five million puddings, two million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies go to waste. Emitting harmful gases as it decomposes, this food waste has a big negative impact on the environment. This year, why not look at some zero-waste food recipes?
11. Buy clothes from ethical and sustainable brands: Whether buying for yourself or as a present, it’s best to make purchases with sustainable and ethical brands where possible. Shopping with brands that promote sustainability or are working towards net-zero targets is a good place to start and can help you uncover a new favourite brand!
12. Buy from sustainable businesses: Lastly, as a general recommendation that goes beyond Christmas, is to – where possible – shop with brands and businesses that prioritise sustainability. This can include clothing brands that plant trees for every new garment sold as a way of offsetting their carbon footprint, to products made with sustainably sourced raw materials and fair-trade pricing.
In the future, thanks to the growing movement towards net-zero emissions and sustainability all brands will be operating and producing products in a way that does less harm to the environment. The key to this shift will be the Magway system. Powered by magnetic waves and travelling through dedicated pipe networks, Magway doesn’t rely on battery power and can, when connected to a renewable energy source, become a carbon-free, zero-emissions delivery system.
As we head into 2022 and the development and deployment of the Magway system accelerates, soon you will be able to shop without having to worry about your carbon footprint. Now, what a future that will be!