Rental trees to LED lights — 12 steps to a planet-saving Christmas


WE are dreaming of a green Christmas – with half of us planning eco-friendly festivities.

Nine in ten people want to cut food waste and three quarters are buying sustainable gifts.

Keep your festivities eco-friendly this year with the help of our Green Team

But with celebrations often big on plastic, how can you lower your carbon footprint?

As part of our Green Team campaign, experts Angela Terry, Lizzie Carr, and Nick McEwen show 12 steps to a planet-saving Xmas.

1. Countdowns

DISPOSABLE advent calendars only create more waste, and as they are made of cardboard, plastic and foil, all difficult to recycle.

Environmental scientist Angela says: “Choose wooden drawer advent calendars. They look good and can be reused each year – saving money in the long run.

Ditch the disposable advent calendars and invest in a reusable one instead

“You can get your kids to choose their own, something they will treasure forever.”

  • Wooden tree calendar, £18, Paperchase

2. Tree

IF you go fake, look after it so you can keep it for decades.

If it’s real, shop organic to ensure it has not been sprayed with fertilisers and arrange a pick-up after Christmas so it is recycled properly.

Rental schemes are a great way to reduce waste but still treat yourself to a Christmas tree

Eco influencer Lizzie says: “Rental schemes are growing in popularity and are a great way to reduce waste. Order online, select a delivery slot and enjoy it before arranging collection.

“Once collected, it is repotted for the following year. Check out Rental Claus or London Christmas Tree Rental.”

3. Decorations

PLASTIC used for decorations is not biodegradable, so chucking it out will only mean it ends up in landfill.

Angela says: “Why not swap decorations with friends, that way you get a new look for free.

Why not swap decorations with friends or keep the kids busy by making your own?

“If you are buying new, buy paper or wool, which can be recycled.

“Or keep the kids entertained with DIY. Find pine cones on a lockdown walk and string them together for bunting.

“Purchase blank wooden shapes from craft stores and spend the day painting them.”

  • Wooden star, £1.50,

4. Lights

THE twinkling of lights gets us all in the festive mood.

But leaving them on for ten hours a day over the 12 days of Xmas can produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, according to reports.

You can save 90 per cent of the energy output of your fairy lights by swapping to LEDs

Angela says: “You can save 90 per cent of the energy output of your fairy lights if you swap from illuminated bulbs to LEDs.

“Remember to turn them off at night and when you leave the house, or put them on a timer.”

  • Lights, £10, Dunelm

5. Gifts

TOYS are a big culprit when it comes to plastic waste, but there are ways to cut back and save money.

Angela says, “Sites like offer second-hand toys, often new and in packaging. Buy fewer and opt for wooden options if possible.

Encourage your friends to start using eco-friendly products by gifting them

“With toiletries, choose bars over bottles and encourage less make-up wipe use by gifting bamboo reusable pads.”

“Do your bit for others by shopping smaller and local.”

  • BBC Earth bar trio, £10, Boots

6. Wrap

WE reportedly use on average 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, with past research claiming enough is used to wrap the island of Guernsey.

Nick, co-founder of eco firm WAKEcup, says, “Most is not recyclable, with some even containing plastic. Instead of single-use, try reusable brown paper.

Using wrapping paper that’s made from recycled material is a great way to reduce your footprint

“Or try Re-Wrapped, which only sells wrap made from recycled material.”

  • Three sheets and tags, £5.95,

7. Cards

AS much as we love to send cards, one and a half billion are binned each year.

Lizzie says: “Working from home has seen the increasing use of e-cards, and going digital means you can personalise them with music, too.

One and a half billion cards are binned each year – try e-cards instead

“If you buy cards, check they are certified by looking for a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp.

“This is important, as it ensures the paper has been sustainably produced and without any glitter, as that makes cards non-recyclable.”

8. Food

OVEREATING is as traditional as the Queen’s Speech, but more than 4.2MILLION Christmas dinners are scraped into the bin each year.

Enough gravy is poured away to fill an Olympic swimming pool.

More than 4.2MILLION Christmas dinners are scraped each year, so it’s key to cut down

Nick says: “Plan meals carefully instead of buying everything with a seasonal motif on it.

“Source locally to cut down on air miles, pick up fruit and veg loose to cut down on plastic and buy an organic turkey.”

9. Table

IT’S the main event of Christmas lunch – so don’t let it slack on the sustainability front.

Nick says: “Rather than buying packs of disposable napkins, purchase green or red reusable options, this way they are not just for Christmas.

If you’re in need of extra cutlery, opt for bamboo sets rather than plastic

“If lockdown allows more guests, opt for extra cutlery that’s green, like a bamboo set, and some sustainable, reusable cups.”

  • Bamboo cutlery set, £15,

10. Crackers

THEY might bring a few laughs to the table but they are an environmentalist’s nightmare.

Try “fill your own” crackers so you can avoid plastic toys, or opt for a reusable set.

This year try ‘fill your own’ crackers or make your own

Nick says, “Crackers are often made with non-recyclable foil and the gifts inside are usually plastic rubbish.

“Why not try making your own? Save toilet roll tubes, buy some bangs and choose something to gift inside, it’s fun and you can even add your own jokes.”

  • Fill your own recyclable crackers, £8, M&S

11. Wardrobe

YOUR Christmas outfit is just as important as everything else – but it doesn’t have to be new.

Angela says: “You can find your party sequins and novelty gear in second-hand shops or reselling sites like eBay or Depop, all coming with lower price-tags.

Check out charity shops and reselling sites like Depop for the perfect second-hand Christmas outfit

“Look for items and clothes made from recycled products.

“With tons of clobber binned post-Christmas, why not sell it instead? You’ll get money and keep the cycle of life going.”

  • Recycled tote bag, £20,

12. Games

PLENTY of board games are bought just for the big day to play once the lunch is finished. But you can keep your entertainment eco-friendly.

Angela says: “Avoid plastic-filled games that will only end up in the skip in a few years.

Stick to wooden games, card games and arts and crafts

“Stick to wooden games and a good deck of cards.

“Crafts are a fun activity, or makeshift games, such as pulling ads from newspapers, cutting out the brand name and seeing if family members can guess who it is.”

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