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Tips for a sustainable Christmas: how to help the environment and save money

Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year, but it can also be the most wasteful. Why not use these sustainable tips to get through the festive season?

Christmas is a time of family, friends, and food, but it often comes with a hefty environmental impact, not to mention the price tag.

The UK is expected to spend around £26 billion on Christmas gifts this year, a 6% increase from last year. On top of this the UK will throw away around £42 million of unwanted Christmas presents that end up in landfill every year.

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The UK will throw away approximately 500 tonnes of Christmas lights each year. We will also bin what equates to around 108 million rolls of wrapping paper.

With that being said, a lot of these statistics could be cut by a huge percentage by following small easy steps and taking easy actions to reduce the amount we purchase and discard.

We rounded a handful of tips that will help you have a more sustainable Christmas, as well as reducing the amount of money you spend.

Read on to find out more...

Rethink your fashion

Scotland’s first online clothing subscription service, Sioda UK offers clothes to rent from luxury high street and designer labels, and chic sustainable brands. Based in Stirling, the brand provides an affordable way to shop which is still kind to the environment. 95% of the clothing is preowned and they have a garment lifecycle strategy to minimise waste. All clothes are also washed using energy efficient laundry equipment with energy provided by a green supplier.

We all know the stress of trying to find an outfit for Christmas Day and the festive season. Why not get creative and repurpose your favourite Christmas outfits - or rent.

Renting gives you access to gorgeous pieces from previous seasons that you wouldn’t find in the shop today. That perfect New Years Eve dress is just waiting for you.

Rent a Christmas tree

There are plenty of farms, garden centres and shops where you can buy a real Christmas tree in Sheffield, for both collection and delivery. Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images.

If you like the smell of a real tree in your house at Christmas, renting could be the perfect choice for you.

You can rent your tree each year and send it back to the farm to grow and be looked after, before it is retired and left to grow on the farm.

Wrap gifts with recycled paper or fabric

Siobhan puts a lot of thought into wrapping presents

Recycled bags and paper can become a fun joke between you and your friend, not to mention it takes away the stress of finding wrapping and bags for future presents.

Fabric wrapping is also a great alternative as they could use the pieces to make masks, or pass it on to other presents.

A fun way to add extra to your gift wrapping is to grab parts of the trees, autumn leaves and other plants to use as accessories.

Reuse everything

Anything you think you could reuse, do it! You don’t need a new table runner, or napkins every year. You could make a table runner from your fabric napkins throughout the years! The possibilities are endless.

Getting creative and crafty can save you time, money and will give you festive activities for the kids.

Reduce your food waste

A traditional Christmas Dinner

We know your freezer will be full of food on the run up to Christmas, however, we suggest eating it before!

There are always leftovers from Christmas dinner so make sure you have plenty of space in there before the big day.

The hardest tip we have is, don’t over-buy. We promise you don’t need three types of meat, and you absolutely have enough in. Turn away from that yellow label or special offer! Portion planners have gotten popular over the last few years to help with this.

Additionally, take another glance at your council website to check what can and can’t be recycled.

Switch to LED Christmas lights

Using LED lights can save valuable energy (photo: Shutterstock)

If every household swapped a string of lights to their LED equivalent we could save more than £11 million, as well as 29,000 tonnes of CO2 throughout the 12 days of Christmas lights.

LED lights use up to 80% less energy than the incandescent lights traditionally used.

Also switching to solar-powered lights for your outdoor decorations would make a huge difference. Sticking your lights on a timer will help you save the environment as well as money.

Make your own Advent Calendar

You could invest in one for life, but there are so many creative ways to do your own Advent calendar, get crafty and make your own to hang on a wall - using unused fabrics in your house like last year’s Christmas bedding that’s been stuffed in under your bed.

You could also try something different - like digital options or a small scavenger hunt with clues written on discarded paper.

Avoid glitter!

Snow globes are a festive favourite, however, getting the scenery you want in the globe can be tricky. By making your own, the shimmering magic of snowfall will fall on a scene straight out of your own imagination. Grab an empty, clean jar and take to work spraying the outside of the lid and glueing your own festive centrepiece to the inside. Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water, add a pinch of glitter to act as snow and a dash of glycerine to stop the glitter from falling too quickly. Now screw the lid on carefully and give the globe a good shake.

Whether it’s on clothes, gift wrapping or anything. Glitter can’t be recycled, and is a major ecological hazard if not correctly disposed of.

Last year saw Major retailers Morrisons, Waitrose announced that they would not use glitter in their in-house brand, single-use Christmas products.

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