Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? Here are our tips for a festive season that’s fun, frugal and eco-friendly.
Christmastime. Food, drink, presents and partying — 'tis the season for overindulgence. It is easy to forget our planetary footprint in all the frivolity.
In fact recent research found just 23.5% of Brits will always consider the environmental impact of Christmas. And interestingly, the figure is very split depending on age — 74% of 18-24 year olds, but just 16% of +55 year olds. Something to do with Christmas traditions and old habits, perhaps?
But eco-conscious does not have to mean curmudgeonly at Christmas. Here are our top 15 tips to minimize your impact.
1. Fewer presents
Everyone likes presents. But can you honestly say you need all the random gifts friends and relatives give you? Even that lime green jumper from your Aunty Bertha? If going present free does not appeal, then consider a one present per person Secret Santa system. Draw Names allows you to do this online and add a wishlist so the one present you get will be something you really want.
2. Buy from Good Energy business customers
If you are doing gifts, we can recommend some brilliant businesses who we know are doing more to be sustainable, because they buy their power from Good Energy. Rapanui and Finisterre sell cool, quality outdoor clothing, whilst Ethical Superstore sells just about everything.
3. Use recycled wrapping paper or fabric
In 2017, the UK threw out an estimated 108 million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. You can make your gifts look memorable with some creative use of recycled brown paper or newspaper. Or use fabric that can be rescued.
4. Give consumable presents
A lot of the Christmas waste comes from small pointless presents — notably in stockings. But there is always a point to good food and drink, as long as it will get eaten or drunk. Make sure your stockings are all killer and no filler.
5. Give books
Another present that is never a waste is a good book. For the politically or economically conscious adult, Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics is a must read. If you know a young person who doesn’t have a copy of Greta Thunberg’s book of speeches yet, then rectify that. The Lorax is a great idea for younger kids. Not everything we read has to have an environmental focus though — for entertaining fiction, Sally Rooney’s Normal People is a modern classic.
The Soil Association can help you find organic Christmas food to make sure your cupboard’s contents have a minimal ecological impact
6. Eat less meat
Vegetable wellington, nut roast, parsnip, mushroom and barley wreath — there are plenty of delicious Christmas meals that do not centre around the traditional turkey. BBC Good Food has a plethora of mouthwatering recipes.
7. Buy organic, local food and drink
It is a special occasion of course, so if you are going to eat meat, make sure it’s special. Buy it from your local butcher from a nearby source. The same should go for your vegetables — try local stores and farmers markets, rather than the standard mass supermarket shop. And our partners the Soil Association can help you find organic Christmas food to make sure your cupboard’s contents have a minimal ecological impact.
8. Try vegan chocolate
Christmas is the one day of the year where chocolate is a reasonable breakfast food. And lunch, dinner, and between meal snack. But instead of stuffing yourself with too much sugar and not enough of the dark stuff, you can get organic, vegan chocolate that is delicious. We don’t mean ‘almost as good as the real thing’ delicious. We mean better. Good Energy customer Lick the Spoon do vegan options, and Booja Booja are really special. Just want a big old slab of chocolate? Vego is like pure heaven, and it’s vegan, organic and fairtrade.
9. Buy eco-crackers, or make your own
Our friends at BIC BIM have a guide to eco-friendly crackers that do not come with a useless bit of plastic you will fiddle with through dinner and then lose or throw away. If you have the time, you could also consider making your own — all you need is a few toilet tube rolls, newspaper and some spirit of Blue Peter.
10. Travel green
British families travel an average of 302 miles over the festive period. So many of us need to go across country or even travel internationally to be with friends of family. If that’s you, check the trains now to see if you can get a reasonable price early. If you are travelling by car, an electric would be ideal, but car share is a second best option.
11. If you have to travel, offset your carbon
If fossil fuel power is your only option for face to face time with the family then there are offset schemes which can minimize your impact and do genuine good. Climate Care’s carbon calculator makes it easy to assess your impact and pay towards some brilliant international offset schemes.
12. Buy a real tree, from a sustainable source
The consensus is that a real tree is better than plastic — plastic may be reusable, but even after 10 years it’s going to landfill somewhere. Make sure your tree is from a sustainable source however and replant after Christmas, either at home, or in the local community.
13. Use LED lights
Obviously make sure your Christmas lights are powered by Good Energy, but the cleanest unit of power is one not used so it is worth making sure you are considering efficiency. Choose LED to make sure your tree is not hogging electrons.
14. Plant a tree
To be really sure your tree is sustainable, you can plant one to replace it. Do this through our new partners Size of Wales, who have just planted their 10 millionth tree, and are protecting tropical forests twice the size of Wales.
15. Switch to Good Energy and plant 150 trees
If you are not already a Good Energy customer, you can tick off point 14 times 50 by switching today and using the code ‘SIZE WALES’, giving you £50 off as well as ensuring Size of Wales plant 150 trees on your behalf. And if you are already a customer, refer a friend through Good Together and both of you will receive £50 off your bill.