Our Guide to A Sustainable Christmas in 2020 and Beyond!
Here at Lillicoco, we are passionate about sustainability. So it is important to us that we celebrate the Christmas season in the most eco-friendly way possible, whilst still having plenty of well-deserved fun!
As an office, we have come up with a few ideas as to how you can have an environmentally friendly Christmas that won’t break the bank and won’t compromise the cheer.
Eco-Friendly Christmas Trees
You can never beat that fresh Christmas tree smell on a crisp winter morning, but did you know that your brand new Christmas tree may not be the most environmentally friendly option?
Most Christmas trees are farmed on an industrial scale, sprayed with harmful chemical fertilisers and just thrown away after the Christmas season. In fact, it is estimated that in the UK alone, 250 tonnes of Christmas trees end up in landfill each year. If these trees aren’t disposed of properly, they release gallons of greenhouse gasses. According to the Carbon Trust a 2-metre tall Christmas tree has a 16kg carbon footprint which is the same as taking three return flights from London to Australia.
Photographer Any Lane, Source - Pexels
But it’s not just real Christmas trees that pose a problem, artificial trees also aren’t the best either. Yes, you can reuse them year after year, but they are made from non-recyclable and non-biodegradable materials, so if you do get tired of it, then they too end up in landfill, and at a greater cost than real Christmas trees.
So, what is the best option?
Fortunately, there are many options for those eco-conscious Christmas shoppers! If you know you want a real tree this year, then the best bet is to source an organic Christmas tree and its even better if you can find it at a local Christmas tree farm!
What’s more, a new incentive is to rent a Christmas tree, yes - rent! These work by you hiring a small tree in a plantable pot, then returning it to the farm after the Christmas period. From this the tree can then be re-planted and grown throughout the year. If you want a larger Christmas tree, make sure you use the Soil Association and the FSC website to locate organic trees grown near you. When the Christmas period is over, make sure to compost the tree yourself or with your local council.
Photographer Cottonbro, Source - Pexels
For artificial trees, the best choice is to purchase a style of tree that you will treasure year after year. So, make sure you opt for timeless “evergreen” (pardon the pun), styles that you can decorate year after year. Plus, when purchasing, see if you can find any second-hand trees that take your fancy on online marketplaces like gumtree or facebook and when you decide that you no longer want the tree, why not donate or resell it?
For those who have a penchant for craft and creativity, you could even set yourself the challenge of making your Christmas tree yourself from recycled materials, driftwood, string and more, just like this “tree” below at The Green Hub!
Sustainable Christmas Decorations Ideas
Now that you have the tree sorted, the next step in making Christmas as eco-friendly as possible is by sourcing sustainable decorations. There are so many gorgeous decorations that you can easily make yourself that are timeless, so you can bring them out of the attic year after year. Plus, many homemade decorations are rustic and homely, promising beauty and awe. It's worth mentioning also that homemade decorations are way more affordable too. No matter what age you are, it's always fun to get stuck in and get crafty.
Just a quick browse on Youtube will reveal a myriad of tutorials for making decorations big and small, whether from old household items that you would usually throw out, or just a quick trip to the supermarket. For instance, classic Christmas tree decorations can be made out of dried oranges, baked salt dough, recycled card and a plethora of knick-knacks.
Another great idea is to up-cycle your old Christmas cards from the year before (if you still have them!). You can easily cut them up and make them into cute decorations and Christmas collages. Not to mention, there are plenty of ways you can up-cycle your cheap baubles which instantly will make them both look festive and expensive.
When decorating your home and the Christmas table, you can never go wrong with foraging too. A trip down to your local woodland or park and you can find a range of sticks, pine cones and ferns which can be spray painted or beautifully arranged into classic Christmas ornaments. In fact, this would be a lovely Christmas eve activity with your loved ones, and is sure to ignite the excitable anticipation in young and old!
Photographer Pavel Danilyuk, Source - Pexels
One of the most unsustainable Christmas decorations are Christmas crackers, as they are often made out of un-recyclable materials and produce lots of waste with small novelty tricks that you would just throw away on Boxing Day. With this in mind, you can easily craft your own crackers using recycled materials and stuffing them with sweets and small messages. For this year, Youtube will be your best friend!
If you do want to purchase some sparkling new decorations, then opt for durable and meaningful ornaments that you know you will love year after year. And, make sure to support small businesses in these endeavours, as it's a great way to spread the Christmas spirit, boost your local economy and find high-quality handcrafted ornaments without you doing the leg-work.
Photographer Oleg Zaicev, Source - Pexels
But how can we forget Christmas lights!? Whether you are one of those homes that completely cover themselves with light up decorations or you prefer the more understated approach, Christmas lights are huge energy suckers and can easily wrack up the electricity bill if you aren’t careful! There are easy ways you can avoid this, by choosing energy efficient LED lighting, installing lights with timers, buying solar-powered outdoor lights or, in the home, simply accentuating the place with candles can add a warm glow and romantic effect! (Go for Christmas scented ones too!).
It is estimated that in the UK we send 1 billion Christmas cards a year, and whilst we love spreading the Christmas cheer, it's sad to think that these cards will just end up in landfill only a few days later. Not to mention we also throw away 80km of wrapping paper, which is often crafted from shiny unrecyclable materials.
There are many ways you can still make your presents look dear and show your loved ones that you are thinking of them, without compromising the planet’s precious resources!
In fact, in this blog, there appears to be a running theme in opting for pieces made from recycled materials, and this is no different to shopping for Christmas cards! Not to mention, look out for Forest Stewardship council cards and gift wrap too. Packaging companies like the Little Green Paper shop also creates biodegradable cards with flower and food seeds inside, so you can plant your cards in the garden and watch them bloom in the spring!
Photographer Jonathon Borba, Source - Pexels
Of course, another alternative is using e-cards, and many companies can make these personalised to you with animations and customisable elements (this option is also way cheaper too, and uses far less C02 emissions as they only need to be sent via email rather than in the post!).
When looking for wrapping paper, there are loads of environmentally friendly alternatives. Kraft brown wrapping paper is one of the few that is completely recyclable, but if you do want something extra-special then you can have lots of fun with deadstock fabrics, newspaper, old maps or by using stamps and paint to customise your own wrapping paper! If you are really nifty, you can reuse any packaging that you have kept throughout the year, from plastic garment bags to cardboard boxes.
Photographer Ylanite Koppens, Source - Pexels
Eco Christmas Dinner
One of the best parts of Christmas day is, of course, the huge and satisfying meal! No matter the dietary requirements and preferences, there are plenty of small and major changes you can make to your Christmas dinner celebrations to make it more eco-friendly. One of the best ways is to go completely vegan or vegetarian for Christmas, but of course, we know that many love roast beef, turkey, pigs in blankets and goose-fat roast potatoes!. So, how can you have an eco-friendly Christmas dinner that doesn’t compromise on taste, quality and tradition?
Photographer Snap Wire, Source - Pexels
Shopping locally and sourcing plastic-free organic produce where possible is a great place to start, especially if you are eating lots of meat. In fact, you could aim for your Christmas eve meal and boxing day meals to be meat-free, and make your breakfast and starters meat-free too, if you want a flexitarian Christmas dinner.
Nevertheless, no matter what you eat on Christmas day, there are bound to be loads of leftovers and it's getting creative with these leftovers will truly make your dinner as eco-friendly as possible. There are so many recipes that you can use these leftovers for and across a range of cuisines, from leftover Vietnamese turkey pho to bubble and squeak, cauliflower cheese pasta, stir-fried brussel sprouts, homemade stock and roasted vegetable tagines.
Photographer Nicole Michalou, Source - Pexels
Being inventive with your leftovers is crucial to minimising food waste, but it is inevitable that you will have some to throw away. Make sure to compost any excess food waste that you have so it bio-degrades properly and nourishes the soil in your garden or local compost pit! When leftovers and food waste are thrown into your regular bin, it will end up in landfill. Landfill doesn’t offer the right environmental conditions for food to biodegrade properly, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Composting reduces the amount of methane that is produced and also contains all of the nutrients which can be used to help your local biodiversity and plants!
The Christmas Outfit
Some people love to get dressed up to the nines on Christmas day (well, it was customary to do so in the Georgian and Victorian period), whereas others love to spend the day in cosy slippers, pyjamas and naff Christmas jumpers. But no matter what you plan on wearing throughout the festive season and on Christmas day, what is the most sustainable option?
Photographer Domenika Roseclay, Source - Pexels
The best way to have a sustainable outfit on Christmas day is to not buy a new outfit from a large fashion corporation. In fact, did you know that if everyone wore a preloved outfit on Christmas day, the C02 emissions would be equivalent to 56 million cars off the road for that day - so it really shows that buying an entirely new outfit for Christmas day alone isn’t worth it! And what is the main culprit for this? Cheap and synthetic Christmas jumpers and pyjamas. Whilst they are funny to wear, you can only really wear them once a year, and if you need a new Christmas jumper every year, it's going to create tonnes of waste and pollution.
Of course, if you have a novelty itch that you need to scratch finding second hand and vintage Christmas outfits is the best way to do this. In fact, now is the best time to shop vintage, with so many curated vintage seller’s and online marketplaces tapping into this growing market.
Environmentally Friendly Christmas Travel
If you are travelling far and wide this Christmas to spend it with your loved ones, all of this travel can cause plenty of pollution. A great way to reduce this is by using public transport (where possible) and also offering to share travel with friends and family. Of course, as we are currently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these options are not seemed safe or best practise if you are travelling with people not in your social bubble. With this in mind, look into carbon offsetting programs where you can donate money towards charities that will plant trees to neutralize the amount of carbon you produce. And, make plans ahead of time with your Christmas bubble’s so you can travel together.
Shop Small for Sustainable Christmas Gifts
And last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas gifts! When searching for gifts, buy local, buy from small businesses, buy second-hand and buy vintage and antique - que shameless plug about how we sell luxury vintage and antique jewellery!
This year the world of e-commerce has grown exponentially as more and more small shops and makers are moving online with platforms like Instagram, Etsy, and Depop. This has made online marketplaces way more accessible for the young and old, so you can easily find treats for yourself and your loved ones just through hashtags or Instagram’s handy new shopping platform.
On Instagram, our favourite hashtags for finding small businesses are:
#Smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #smallbusinesssupport #smallbusinessuk #smallbusinesssaturday #smallbusinesslove #smallbusinesswomen #smallbusinessrocks #smallbusinessrevolution #smallbusinessstartup
To avoid over-spending, set yourself a budget for each person, and avoid novelty gifts if possible (as these will likely just end up in the bin in a few weeks time!
If you loved reading this Christmas guide, then why not check out our sustainable jewellery guide from earlier this year?