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December, 23rd 2020

For many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but the same cannot be said for the environment. The annual holiday results in a 30% increase of waste from food, unwanted gifts and packaging. This year, include mother nature in the festive spirit of giving and caring with our 10 tips for a more sustainable Christmas.

Words By Marina Hoyer 

While elves and reindeers are getting busy in Santa’s workshop, so are we. December is a time of preparation and anticipation both at the North Pole and in houses all over the globe. We get the decorations out, buy gifts for loved ones, hang our stockings over the fireplace, send out cards, and bake biscuits and fruitcakes. Our homes and hearts warm as the scents of vanilla, cloves and cinnamon apples fill the air with the sound of Jingle Bells. They tell us: it’s Christmas time!

All year long, we have been living consciously, reducing waste, limiting our shopping and avoiding plastic. But now, we just want to indulge in the festivities. And that’s okay, because after all, it is the season to be jolly! With our guide to a sustainable Christmas, there is no need to forbid yourself every little joy, because these 10 ideas will bring pleasure to you and the environment.

Switch from glittery to green decoration

It just isn’t Christmas without the right decoration! For a more eco-friendly version, simply stick to a modern, Scandi-chic look instead of going overboard on kitschy reindeers, bells and lametta. You can also include the fully biodegradable ornaments that Mother Nature has to offer. Unite your family for an idyllic winter walk in the forest and collect pinecones, holly twigs with berries (not the tasty kind!) or fallen fir branches. When you return home, warm up with hot apple cider and let the crafting begin.

Another great way to go green is through upcycling. Are you finding yourself with leftover fruit from last week? Dried grapefruit, lemon or orange slices make beautiful DIY-decorations. If Aunt Susan filled your stockings with dozens of candy cones again, stick them into old lightbulbs and there you have just created the perfect sustainable Christmas tree baubles. Or why not try experimenting with salt dough to design personalized eco-ornaments? Pinterest is full of creative ideas that are not only environmentally friendly but also get you in the mood for Christmas while you craft away.

Swap Christmas sweaters

Do you and your family love wearing cute Christmas sweaters? Instead of buying new knits every year that you never wear beyond the holidays, kick off a new tradition: a Christmas sweater swap! Invite your besties for a cosy afternoon with hot chocolate and waffles and exchange your red reindeer jumper for your friend’s woolen snowflake model. This way, you can all sport new styles each Christmas without contributing to landfill waste. Plus, it saves you a lot of money.

Wrap your gifts in sustainability

Coated wrapping paper, curling ribbons and polyester bows are not just bad for the environment, they are outdated. Instead, add a minimalist, modern touch to your Christmas gifts and wrap them in recyclable kraft paper. Tie them with jute yarn and finish off your artwork with biodegradable details like pressed leaves and flowers, twigs, star anise or pine cones.

Do it like the Japanese

To take your gift-wrapping to the next level, opt for Furoshiki (風呂敷), a textile cloth in which the Japanese wrap their presents. The custom is deeply rooted in Japan’s rich history and has been practised for over 1200 years. It is also related to the philosophy ofMottainai, the art of not being wasteful. In Japanese culture, wrapping goods with care has a special meaning and shows politeness, thoughtfulness and appreciation. This year, show the same to your friends and family by artfully wrapping your gift in Furoshiki that leaves zero waste and can be reused by the lucky recipient of this gesture.

Switch to LED lights

Fairy lights wrapped around trees or lit-up stars hanging in our windows are a must-have to bring the magical atmosphere of the season into our home. To illuminate your house without consuming excessive electricity, simply replace your traditional halogen lamps with LEDs.

Send pottable greeting cards

In the UK, an estimated 1 billion greeting cards are sold every Christmas. Many of them are thrown away after the holidays, creating unnecessary waste. Due to the mix of paper and plastic elements like glitter, foil or beads, cards are often difficult to recycle. A green alternative? Pottable Christmas cards! This innovation is made from biodegradable paper embedded with seeds. You can plant the whole card in soil and watch it grow into a beautiful flower or delicious herbs.

Make your Christmas dinner delicious eco-friendly

To make the most of your holiday dinner in terms of sustainability, ditch the meat and go plant-based. Is it not Christmas for you without the traditional stuffed turkey? Then don’t be hard on yourself either and remember that sustainability is not just black and white. Even small changes have an impact. So why not take a first step by simply replacing a few side dishes with vegan options? You can also buy your groceries locally at the farmers’ market and at refill stations with minimal or even no packaging.

Did you know that each year, 17.2 million Brussels sprouts are thrown away during the holiday season in the UK alone? Rescue your leftovers and put them in the freezer instead of the bin to help reduce Christmas food waste.

Rent a Christmas tree

Make sure to buy a real fir tree instead of a plastic one. Not only does it give you an authentic atmosphere, it will also reduce your carbon footprint by 80% as the conifers can be recycled after the holidays. Most countries collect the trees in early January and turn them into wood chippings or compost. If you want to take sustainability to the next level, you can even rent a pot-grown Christmas tree that will be replanted afterwards.

Forego gifts entirely…

Although making your loved ones happy with a Christmas gift holds a sweet intention, the tradition often creates stress for you and the environment. Last-minute panic buys usually end up in a hidden corner of the recipient’s cupboard or worse, in a landfill. How about replacing the presents with a festive bring-your-own buffet Christmas party? It spares everybody the hassle of finding the right gift and means that as the dinner host, you can spend the day with your guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen. Invest the saved time in treating everybody to creative Christmas cocktails and celebrate without the stress.

…or make smart gift choices

If you don’t feel festive without exchanging presents, opt for sustainable Christmas gifts. Homemade consumables like jams, cookies or liqueurs are a universally-welcome choice. Don’t have enough time? Good store-bought alternatives include potted plants, books about a sustainable lifestyle, and products locally handcrafted by small businesses, such as organic soap bars and fair-trade chocolates. If you are still stuck for ideas, a gift card is always better than buying an item that could end up in the bin. Many stores even offer zero-waste digital gift cards.

A compromise between giving twenty gifts and no gift at all is the practice of Secret Santa or Wichteln (in Germany). In this tradition, family members and friends draw names from a hat telling them which person they are gifting to. The system results in each individual giving and receiving exactly one item, often with a predefined value. Instead of stressing out about finding a suitable present for each of your relatives, you can put more thought into a single piece. Hopefully, this increases the chances that the recipient will appreciate and use their gift

Do you have a fashionista in your social circle? If so, the selection of clothes, accessories, jewellery and cosmetics available at Staiy are a safe bet. Thanks to our high standards and strict evaluation criteria, you can be sure that all of our partner brands are 100% sustainable. Not sure where to start? Check out our editors’ specially curated sustainable Christmas gift guide made just for you!

Staiy wishes you and your loved ones a most wonderful and merry Christmas.