Please wait, the site is loading...

Homes

12 ways to have a sustainable Christmas

by Rae Ritchie
12 ways to have a sustainable Christmas
Image: Getty

Never mind a white Christmas, make it a greener one, says Rae Ritchie. Here’s how to reduce the carbon footprint of the festive season without feeling like Scrooge

1. Renegotiate with Father Christmas

According to a study on the environmental impact of Christmas, the average adult spends £600 on gifts – 20% of which are totally unwanted. It’s a waste of money and resources, so try having an honest conversation with family and friends about whether it’s time to stop playing Santa with each other or stick to buying for children only. You might even find they’re relieved at the idea.

2. Swap stocking fillers

Jen Gale, author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide and The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Parenting (Bloomsbury, £12.99 each), suggests organising an exchange evening with friends in the run-up to Christmas: ‘Ask everyone to have a sort-out and bring along anything they no longer want or need. You can then swap. This works really well with kids’ toys and books for stocking fillers.’

3. Cut down the cards

Hate writing Christmas cards? Here’s your excuse to stop: the 1 billion Christmas cards that Brits send generate 140,000 tonnes of carbon. If you do buy cards, check for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on the back to ensure that the paper was responsibly sourced (this is a good habit to get into when buying other greetings cards too).

4. Boycott glitter

Glitter is an environmental nightmare. It’s a microplastic and not recyclable, so avoid cards, gift wrap and anything else with it on.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle, wrap

A mind-boggling 277,000 miles of wrapping paper gets thrown away in the UK every year. Avoid adding to that figure by following the three ’R’s. Reduce: look for alternatives such as newspaper or fabric squares. Reuse: dig out that stash of gift bags and put them back into circulation (and remember to save any you’re given this year). Recycle: look at the label before buying new gift wrap to check that it is recyclable.

6. Substitute the sticky tape

To misquote Jane Austen, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you will run out of sticky tape in December. When you do, opt for an eco-friendly replacement such as a paper tape or even string and ribbon, as the usual stuff is made from polypropylene, a type of plastic that isn’t widely recycled.

7. Forego fake fir

‘Artificial Christmas trees are made from non-sustainable plastics,’ reports Georgina Wilson-Powell in Is It Really Green? Everyday Eco-Dilemmas Answered (DK, £12.99). ‘You’d have to use a fake tree for 10 years before it became more energy efficient than using a real tree each year, but even then you’re left with a tree that does not decompose. Real trees are the greener option.’

8. Avoid single-use

Eschew single-use items in favour of reusable ones, including:

• Cloth napkins instead of paper

• Fabric table coverings instead of disposable

• Metal cutlery instead of plastic

• Decorations with replaceable batteries or plugs instead of sealed units

9. Create your own crackers

Much of the detritus left on the table after Christmas lunch comes from crackers – and not a lot of it is recyclable. Nip this problem in the bud by making your own and filling them with items that you would actually like to win. You can even get reusable sleeves from Keep This Cracker (keepthiscracker.com).

10. Ask guests to help

‘Sharing supplies is so much better than having to buy and store them,’ says Kathryn Kellogg, author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste (Countryman Press, £9.99) – so if you’re hosting, ask guests to bring whatever you don’t have enough of, whether that’s wine glasses, plates or an extra chair.

11. Adjust the thermostat

Expecting a full house? Turn the thermostat down a degree or two before guests arrive, especially if you also have the oven on. The rooms you’re using will soon start to feel too hot with everyone in them, so save yourself some cash and some carbon by lowering the setting sooner rather than later. Keep this up all year and you could save up to £55 – and 300kg of carbon dioxide.

12. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it!

Food waste rockets faster than Santa’s sleigh at Christmas. We spend about £220 more than usual on food, then throw 250,000 tonnes of it away. Minimise your food waste by only buying what you know stands a chance of being consumed. When no-one in your house likes it, leave it on the shelves. Whether it’s Brussels sprouts or sherry, nothing creates more waste than a product that wasn’t wanted in the first place.

Don`t miss

We value your privacy

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our site and to allow us and third parties to customise the marketing content you see across websites and social media. For more information see our cookie policy.

Cookie Preference Centre

Learn more about what each cookie category does and choose your settings (toggle right to opt in or left to opt out). Cookie policy


Strictly Necessary

These technologies are needed to enable our websites and apps to run and to keep it secure.

Sainsbury's Magazine

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
PHPSESSID Until the browsing session ends
device_view 1 month
recentlyViewedRecipes 1 year
subscription-{popup-version-date}-PopupClosed 12 days

Vimeo

Enables Vimeo videos on the site

Cookie name Duration
_derived_epik 1 year

Constant Commerce

Enables shopping tools for recipe ingredients

Cookie name Duration
cc_a_h 10 years
cc_a_s Until the browsing session ends

DoubleClick

DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables us to more effectively create, manage and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns.

Cookie name Duration
DSID 10 days
IDE 1 year
RUL 11 months

Performance/Analytics

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Google

Google Analytics tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
__gads 13 months
_ga 28 months
_gat 1 minute
_gid 1 day
1P_JAR 1 month
ANID 10 days
CONSENT 18 years
NID 6 months
__Secure-3PAPISID 2 years
__Secure-3PSID 2 years
__Secure-3PSIDCC 1 year

Marketing/Targeting

These technologies help us decide which products, services and offers may be relevant for you. We use this data to customise the marketing content you see on websites, apps and social media. They also help us understand the performance of our marketing activities. These cookies are set by us or our carefully-selected third parties.

Pinterest

Pinterest conversion tracking gathers conversion insights and builds audiences to target based on actions our visitors have taken on the site.

Cookie name Duration
_pinterest_ct_rt 1 year
_pinterest_ct_ua 1 year
_pin_unauth 1 year

Outbrain

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
outbrain_cid_fetch 5 minutes
adrl 5 weeks
apnxs 6 weeks
criteo 2 months
obuid 6 months

Twitter

Twitter conversion tracking enables us to measure our return on ad spend by tracking the actions people take after viewing or engaging with our ads on Twitter.

Cookie name Duration
personalization_id 2 years
muc 2 years
ads_prefs 5 years
auth_token 5 years
dnt 5 years
guest_id 2 years
twid 5 years