Christmas is just around the corner and we can’t wait to enjoy the warm cosy atmosphere and festive decor as we welcome loved ones home for celebration. 

For many of us, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year… and unfortunately also one of the most wasteful! Between decorations, wrapping paper, food waste and unwanted gifts, the UK produces around 3 extra tonnes of waste during the festive season. In fact, around 10% of Christmas gifts (8 million) go directly to landfill without ever being used. 

There are many ways to have a more eco-friendly Christmas, which make this period easier on your wallet as well as the planet. Start a new festive tradition with our list of our top tips for having a more sustainable Christmas.

Rent, Re-use or Recycle your tree

When it comes to real vs plastic, real Christmas trees are the more sustainable option, and now the most economical thanks to the growing list of local companies who allow you to rent the perfect tree for Christmas and even handle delivery! To find your closest tree rental service, see this list of UK Christmas Tree Rental Companies. These trees are replanted between each festive season and play an important role in the local ecosystem. If you can’t rent, buy a potted spruce and grow it in your garden for reuse each year. Finally, if you do buy make sure you look for the symbol of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure it’s from a well-managed forest and recycle it properly – most councils recycle trees by turning them into chippings, reducing their carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent compared with sending them to landfill.

 

Make your own decorations

Christmas decorations bring extra joy and cosiness, however, the majority of baubles are made of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic and glitter as well as toxic paints. Homemade decorations are not only more sustainable, they bring a unique charm to a space and creating them can be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy! Why not try making a handmade wreath using foraged materials like pinecones, ivy and holly, not only do they have a gorgeous scent but they can be recycled at the end of the season.

 

Switch to solar powered LED lights and remember to turn off your tree at night!

While it’s tempting to keep your tree twinkling through the late evening hours, it’s better for the planet (and your energy bills!) if you invest in a timer, or turn off your lights before turning in. Even better, look for solar-powered LED lights which capture solar energy during the day to light up your tree at night.

Be thoughtful about gift-giving and don’t hesitate to regift!

We believe the best gifts are the ones which are the most thoughtful. Sometimes this means gifting an experience or your time to a loved one, instead of a material object. If you do find the perfect gift, make sure that it can be exchanged or returned in case it’s the wrong fit. At Sahara we extend our returns window during the festive period so that people don’t hold onto something they won’t use or cherish!

 

Ditch the single-use Christmas wrapping 

While we love receiving (and giving) a beautifully wrapped gift, the majority of wrapping papers are non-recyclable and go straight to landfill. For a more sustainable option, buy plastic-free wrapping paper which is both reusable and recyclable. Or even better, switch from paper wrapping to fabric. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki (wrapping gifts in colourful fabric) we like to re-use old scraps of household fabrics - cloth napkins, clothing, tablecloths, anything works! And if you love Christmas cards make sure to be sending ones which are recycled or biodegradable. 

 

Plan ahead to avoid food waste

Every Christmas the UK wastes approximately 7 million tonnes of food. Plan ahead and make small changes to avoid a fridge full of leftovers. Try to buy local where possible, swap out meat products for plant-based alternatives and plan to freeze any un-used ingredients. Try to resist the impulse to overbuy treats and snacks and home-back as much as possible to avoid plastic waste. If you do end-up with too many leftovers, donate to your local church, food bank or use apps like Olio to share a delicious meal with a neighbour who needs it.