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How to put the ‘green’ in Christmas!

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Christmas is a time of decoration, joy…and great food! Whether you’re planning a feast or madly dashing to get the last of your gifts sorted out (or starting them if you’re me), there’s no reason why you can’t give your Christmas celebration a sustainable twist. You don’t have to forgo your whole roast dinner, or your big party, in fact some of these tips and tricks can be incorporated into winter strolls and art socials.

Zero Waste Decorations:

If you’re bringing in a tree to your house, and laying a wreath, why not add other little natural touches to your Christmas scene? Hunting for pine cones, leaves, and shells will give you a nice unique twist to your tree, and definitely give you an excuse for some winter hot chocolate. You can also brush the edges and sprinkle to make into a snowy bauble!

Make your own Christmas cracker! What better way to play a practical joke than personally choosing the joke gift stuffed inside your Christmas dinner cracker. With guides such as this, you can see how to make your own crackers using leftover wrapping paper, some glue dots, and cracker snaps as well as toilet roll tubes!

Have any old tartan clothing? Peace with the wild has a step by step tutorial that shows you how to pair an old bit of tartan with some herbs or loose leaf tea to combine some winter indoors sewing to make your own scented stuffed bauble.

Who managed to make it through last winter without encountering at least one gonk or xmas gnome on the shelves? (Not me!) There are several ways you can make these yourself from old socks, and pillow stuffing as this guide indicates one method for making them at home, though from personal experience, you can also replace the stuffing with other things such as dented baubles and use old art supplies for decoration.

Image Credit: Rufusplant

Alternatives to Tinsel:

Tinsel is made of plastic, and let’s not ignore all the bits that shed off. Pom Poms can be made of wool, and this makes an eco friendly decoration, and can be personalised to suit you with your favourite colour combinations. This cool guide also recommends handmade bunting, paper chains, and knitted runners.

Sustainable Gift Giving:

Did you know that not all wrapping paper is actually recyclable? Some wrapping paper contains plastic, and of course there’s the sellotape. The BBC recommends a quick sure way to check if your paper is actually recyclable: scrunch it up! If you scrunch it and it stays as is, you can probably recycle it, and if you want a really easy way to make sure your paper is recyclable…buy recycled paper! You can also get environmentally conscious sticky tape from the same guide from places such as Eco Craft, AnythingButPlastic, or Peace With The Wild.

However, if you’re really into gift giving, the wrapping doesn’t stop at paper. Decorating with ribbons can also be plastic free too. Ribbon nowadays can also contain nylon or polyester which are not biodegradable. Furthermore, the dye used is chemical which, posing risk to animal and human health alike. This guide provides you with quite a few options for sustainable alternatives, including businesses like Little Cherry, Etsy and Amazon.

Why not get creative and use left over Christmas cards to make tags for next year! At the end of the season, instead of throwing out all those pretty cards you got, grab a hole punch, a pair of scissors, some ribbon and you are on your way! You don’t need any artistic skills, I certainly don’t have any.

Credit: Antonia Devereux

There is more to Christmas than the gifts under the tree, it’s about bringing people together! So why not give back to your community this Christmas? Whether it’s donating to your local food bank, a mental health charity or an animal shelter, or just dropping your neighbour off some Christmas pudding, we all need to stick together! Sustainability isn’t just about the planet but the people on it too and the more connected we are, the better we become.

About the authors: Ani Talwar and Antonia Devereux had a massive fight over who would get to write this article – in the spirit of Christmas, they put aside their differences and decided to write it together, although Ani’s name is first so I guess we know who won…! Ani and Antonia are both students at University of York, who are passionate about sustainability (and Christmas Dinner).

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