How To Have A More Ethical Christmas This Year



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Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but sadly it is also one of the most wasteful. If you want to make a positive change and try to reduce your impact here are a few things you can try.

Less is More

I feel we all need to switch our thinking and move away from quantity to quality. I've always lived by the motto that less is more and one well thought out, meaningful gift is far better than lots of smaller throwaway gifts. So when it comes to buying for friends and family do take note of what they actually want or need in their life - presents can also be practical so getting someone of real use to someone is also key.

Buy secondhand  

The festive season is often the best time to shop in charity shops are more people than ever are declutter and making way for their new Christmas presents and drop off some amazing things in charity and thrift stores. It's a great way to reuse something as well as keep your costs down. I have done this a lot with my own children and family. 

Mulled wine

Reduce Food waste and Purchase less food

With the all the clever marketing, the big family dinners, those special holiday foods that we don’t eat all year round and that feeling of Christmas luxury it’s all too easy to overbuy and overspend on the food we need for Christmas. During the month of December alone, UK residents will throw the equivalent of 54 million plates of food into the bin. That’s 54 million plates of unnecessary waste, and the main reason that this food ends up in landfill is that it wasn’t needed in the first place. If you know that you overbuy and overspend on food during the festive period, here are some tips that may help you:

Write a list

Supermarkets are designed to entice you into buying things that you don’t actually need. To help you stick to the essentials and not be swayed by the offers, write yourself a list and make it a game to try and stick to it. Not only will this keep you focused but it can also speed up your shopping trip too, why not get your kids involved to make things even quicker.

Work out the portions you need

Most of us aren’t very used to catering on a large scale which means we tend to massively over-prepare the food we need. Work out exactly who you have coming to your Christmas dinner and have a think about how much they will typically eat and then take the time to work out some portion sizes. For example, each adult may eat 4 roast potatoes, and if a potato is cut into 4 then you need 1 potato per person. Some people will eat more and others may eat less but this will help stop you from mindlessly peeling a whole bag of potatoes when you really only needed half.

Put less on the plate

Rather than piling everyone’s plates high, serve them up smaller portions or let people serve themselves in a buffet style. Food that’s left in the serving dishes can be easily packaged up as leftovers whereas waste food on people’s plates automatically goes in the bin. Remind people that they can always have seconds and make clean plates the aim of the game.

Stock up on storage

Even with the best portion control in the world, you’re likely going to have some leftovers. To keep them fresh for longer invest in some new food storage devices and pop them straight in the fridge.

Buy packaging-free where you can

Over 125,000 tonnes of plastic food wrappers will be thrown in the bin over Christmas with 3,000 tonnes of this coming from the Christmas turkeys that are consumed. The amount of plastic packaging used to wrap up our food is disgraceful, but if you shop savvy then you can cut down on it by buying your produce loose rather than in packs, or by selecting your meat from the butchers where you can either wrap it in brown paper or place it in a reusable plastic pot. To group vegetables together and avoid the plastic supermarket bags, purchase a set of cotton produce bags.

Recycle as much of your food and drink packaging as possible

Sadly, it’s virtually impossible to cut down on packaging altogether over the Christmas period but you can limit the damage by ensuring that you recycle as much as possible. Remember to wash out your food packaging to reduce the chance of it being rejected by the recycling firm and separate different types of materials where necessary. One easy area of recycling in which people can make a big difference is with their drinks cans. 500 million drinks cans are sold each Christmas and with each can you recycle you can save enough energy to run a set of Christmas lights for two hours! Also, remember to recycle your gift packaging and old batteries too.

Make your own Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers contain millions of pieces of single-use plastic which more often than not end up straight in the bin after the Christmas meal. Rather than spending lots of money on crackers which contain gifts that nobody wants, instead make your own. You can buy cracker kits online which include the paper, the cracker, the hat and the job, then you just need to fill them with whatever you like, such as homemade chocolates or little miniature bottles of booze. Making your own crackers is a great way to cut down on this single-use plastic and it’s also a really fun activity to do as a family in the run-up to Christmas. 


Buy fewer presents

£42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown away each year, ending up in a landfill. The concept of stocking fillers may be cute but these gifts are often cheap and quickly end up cast aside. Instead, try to buy fewer presents and make them the things the person really wants. If this makes it a little expensive then make the gift a combined present from more than one member of the family. Another great way to reduce gift waste at Christmas is to buy the person an experience rather than a physical gift such as a cookery class, a helix piercing, or a day at a race track. Experience days make perfect presents for all the family giving them the gift of lasting memories for life.

Choose eco wrapping options

The average household will use 4 rolls of wrapping paper this Christmas with the UK as a whole wrapping their way through 40 million rolls, the equivalent of 83km2 of paper, the majority of which ends up in our rubbish bins. Wrapping is, of course, an important part of Christmas but there are a few small changes you can make to help reduce your environmental impact such as:

Using re-usable materials

Instead of using conventional paper to wrap your gifts try other materials such as cloth which can easily be folded and reused next year.

Recycling your used wrapping paper

Check to see if your wrapping paper can be recycled by doing a simple scrunch test. If you scrunch it and it stays scrunched then pop it in the recycling bin. If you scrunch it and it bounces back then it may be plasticised and can’t be recycled. You also cannot recycle glittered wrapping paper.

Re-using gift bags the following year

Many gift bags, boxes and pieces of gift wrap can be stored and used again next year, saving you money and stopping them from going to waste.

Send electronic Christmas cards

More than 1 billion Christmas Cards end up in our bins after Christmas, which is the equivalent of 33 million trees! If you want to send a season greeting to your friends or loved ones this Christmas then either use cards which are made from recycled materials to reduce the impact or opt for an electronic version which doesn’t use any trees at all! 

Buy a living tree

8 million Christmas trees are purchased in December specifically for Christmas and once the season is over they often end up discarded and rotting in landfill sites. If you like to have a real tree in your house at Christmas then why not buy a live potted one which will last you more than one season? It can be kept in its pot for several years and then when it’s too big or outgrown its home you can simply plant it out in the garden to continue its life. Living trees are great for a number of reasons, they’re carbon-neutral, they don’t drop their needles everywhere, they smell amazing and they can continue to help clean the air for years to come. If a living tree isn’t an option for your family but you still want to use a real cut one then try to dispose of it more carefully by having it recycled into chippings so that it can be composted down.

Of course, the alternative to a living or real Christmas tree is a fake one. Fake trees are often made out of plastic, however, if you purchase a good quality one it can last you many seasons which can end up more environmentally friendly than using cut trees each year. 

Think about what you wear

People want to look their best over the festive period which often means going out to the shops to buy a new outfit for the big day. Instead of opting for fast, unsustainable fashion options shop ethically instead and purchase something that you can wear long after the big day ends. The same applies for fashionable gifts, instead of buying lots of cheap clothing options such as pyjamas or socks for loved ones buy them one better quality piece that will last them instead. 

ethical Christmas


  1. Less is really more Laura. I am buying less this year.

  2. We've been doing a lot of this already, and I want to make even more of an effort this year. I already wrap all presents in brown paper or newspaper, and I'm making our own crackers this year. We've also been trying to be more mindful about gifts - I often buy second hand gifts or upcycle e.g. old toys. My kids don't care what shop it came from anyway.

    1. That's so good to hear and hope you had a lovely Christmas

      Laura x

  3. Yes to all of this a great post!! I always wonder why people are buying so much food! People spending £100s in the supermarket on what is really just a roast dinner! I also try and buy a lot of second hand gifts too.

    1. I know right, so much money spent on food that often doesn't always get eaten

      Laura x

  4. What a great post. It's something I am REALLY trying to do this year in terms of being more mindful about wastage during the festive season!

    1. I think small changes and a movement towards being more mindful is really postive

      Laura x

  5. These are such great idea. Some are so obvious that I’d not even considered them.

    We are terrible with food, there is almost too much so I’ll be following these tips.

    Thank you x

  6. We are definitely going to purchase less food this year as we are usually out and about

    1. Yes we did too - good to hear you did the same

      Laura x


Lovely comments

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