Guide to a Green Christmas
Feeling conflicted over your love of Christmas and your passion for the planet? To avoid the Boxing Day shame that comes with uneaten leftovers and overflowing wheelie bins, we’ve put together this handy sustainable Christmas starter guide!
Decorations Without Desecration
We need to talk about tinsel. Originally made from shredded silver to represent frost, most of us have grown up with the cheap and cheerful, but limited-use plastic imitation. Avoid plastic decorations altogether, consider going old school with more meaningful ornaments made from sustainable materials. Think bespoke wood and metal decorations that might cost a little more but can be handed down to grandchildren. Even better, decorate your house with fallen pine cones, native flowers or anything else that can be found by foraging in local gardens or parks.
Plastic trees pose the same environmental burden as tinsel, but dragging home real Christmas trees can become problematic. Discarded trees often end up rotting in landfill, producing excess carbon dioxide. Renting a real Christmas tree may sound ridiculous at first but this service is gaining popularity as a green option and may be a viable option in your area. Alternatively, large offcuts taken from living trees can be especially convincing when dressed up with your favourite decorations. Finally, limit the lights! In the not-too-distant future we’ll all have lovely LED Christmas lights powered by clean energy but until then let’s minimise the neighbourhood light shows.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without politely unwrapping (tearing open) gifts, especially for kids! But, we can do it better. Classic wrapping paper made from actual paper is fine if sourced from an ethical, renewable source. Plasticky foils, bows and ribbons are not recommended unless they’re upcycled or preloved. Fabric gift bags and wraps are much more likely to be used next holiday season, but our absolute favourite option is to create your own wrapping paper by decorating discarded newspaper or documents with eco paints!
Gifts that Keep Giving
A Christmas tradition that has been adopted around the world, now sadly also contributes to landfill around the world. A 2016 study observed people aged 25 and 34 are the worst culprits and will often throw away unwanted gifts, bypassing regifting or charity options! Avoiding novelty or throwaway gifts will generally please both recipients and environmentalists. Experiences, memberships, event tickets or even pre-loved quality gifts will usually be cherished more than anything else.
Dress to Inspire
Christmas sweaters have been getting a bad rap for containing plastic fibres but aren’t really popular in Australia given the summer heatwaves. Dodge gimmicky seasonal fast fashion items and accessories that will inevitably end up in landfill, but if you do want to get festive, try to wear the same outfits every year. Predictable and potentially boring but a great sustainability conversation starter.
Stick to our handy eating guide but basically don’t prepare more than you will eat on the day, or (realistically!) as leftovers. Going vegetarian is the best option but if you’re keen for a more traditional roast: chicken or turkey has a significantly smaller impact than beef or lamb.
Seasons Greetings from everyone at Solar Schools! If you have more tips or suggestions please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org