With the nights getting darker and term one at it’s end, it is inevitable that people’s thoughts are turning towards Christmas – the food, the presents, and the celebrations. But have you ever stopped to consider the environmental impact of this widely celebrated holiday? From the perspective of sustainability, the real cost of Christmas stretches far beyond the financial implications of the day, and translates into increasing amounts of plastic waste, uneaten food, and energy consumption. While businesses and manufacturers need to accept the burden of responsibility and develop more sustainable products and packaging, there are also several things that you can do at home to have a more environmentally friendly Christmas.
1: Reduce your meat consumption
It is a well-known fact that vegetarian diets are better for the environment, as they require less water, land, and produce fewer carbon emissions. While most people will be reluctant to swap out the traditional Christmas turkey for a meat-free alternative this Christmas, there are other ways in which you can reduce your environmental impact through a change in your holiday eating habits. Why not offer a nut roast, or vegetarian roast, alongside your meat of choice this Christmas – thereby cutting your meat consumption by half? Failing this, you could consider making more vegetarian meals during the holiday season, thereby helping to limit carbon emissions while encouraging your family to consume lighter, often healthier meals in the run-up to the big day.
2: Limit your food waste
In their 2020 report, WRAP estimate that household food waste makes up 70% of the UK’s overall food waste, and it is difficult to imagine a time where more excess food is thrown away than at Christmas. This year, play your part in reducing food waste by making a meal plan for the festive period. Once you know exactly what you’re going to eat and when, break down the meals into individual ingredients to create a shopping list that will ensure that you don’t over-buy. And if you do end up with Christmas leftovers, why not do something with them? Making bubble and squeak on Boxing Day can be an excellent way to use up leftover vegetables in a tasty and nutritious way. Or, you could simply pack up the food into Tupperware containers and freeze it for another time!
3: Choose recyclable wrapping paper
It’s strange to think, but not all wrapping paper is paper. Often, wrapping paper is made with glitter or plastics that render it unsuitable for recycling. This presents recycling plants with a huge challenge in separating the recyclable paper from the non-recyclable, and, as a result, local councils often place a ban on recycling wrapping paper altogether. This year, consider purchasing recyclable wrapping paper from stores such as Paperchase, which clearly labels which of its products are recyclable and which are not. Hopefully, if more consumers actively choose recyclable paper, the manufacturers will cease production of the unsustainable kind, and less superfluous plastic will be wasted.
4: Get rid of the Christmas crackers
While pulling a Christmas cracker may seem like harmless fun, the environmental impact of this fleeting moment is vast. The disposable plastic toys inside the crackers present a threat to our oceans and ecosystems in a similar way to other single-use plastics, such as straws and cotton buds. Furthermore, abstaining from traditional Christmas crackers is an easy way to limit your family’s consumption of disposable plastic during the festive season. Instead, there are online tutorials that show you how to make homemade Christmas crackers out of recycled materials. Why not replace an old Christmas tradition with a new one, and take the time to make homemade Christmas crackers with your family this year?
– Alice Walters
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