5 ways to make your Christmas more sustainable

By: Henrietta Mackenzie

Christmas is normally one of the happiest times of the year, having fun with family and friends. But while it’s the season of giving, there’s so much excessive shopping and overconsumption, it also has a huge impact on the environment. Each year, there’s a significant amount of waste generated including plastic packaging, Christmas cards, leftover food and unwanted gifts. Unfortunately Christmas has become far from sustainable. 

So, to reduce the impact on the environment, we need to be mindful of waste and shop responsibly. This not only reduces our spending but also makes sure we buy what we need rather than indulge ourselves in excessive and unnecessary shopping. 

Here are five ways to make your Christmas more sustainable:

1.Avoid buying presents with plastic packaging 

So many Christmas presents come wrapped in plastic packaging, whether that’s toys, makeup, toiletries or even clothes. But around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is thrown away and not recycled in the UK each Christmas, which is a horrendous waste. Plastic packaging is unfortunately so ubiquitous, it can be tricky to avoid. However, there are a few things you can do like look for items in shops that don’t come wrapped in lots of unnecessary plastic or take a look in charity shops for good quality pre-loved gift ideas. 

2.Make sure you recycle your Christmas cards

I love sending Christmas cards and always buy mine from charity shops to support a good cause. But one billion Christmas cards are binned every year which costs £2.8 million in waste management. This is a shocking stat, however there are many ways to get around this. Firstly minimise the amount of cards you send and also consider sending more ecards and texts. Secondly, don’t buy cards with glitter because they’re made up of bits of plastic which can’t be recycled, and ensure you recycle all your cards after Christmas. 

3.Don’t throw away leftovers

If you’re anything like me, I always over cater at Christmas time. But over four million Christmas dinners are thrown away every year – that’s equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies, 740,000 portions of Christmas pudding and 11.3 million roast potatoes. However, this year I’m making a concerted effort to only buy the amount of food that we actually need, and any leftovers will be cooked up to make other meals or frozen. So, whether you eat turkey or opt for a vegan Christmas dinner like nut roast, you can get creative with your leftovers, then freeze the rest to eat later in January. 

4.Buy presents that people want

Over 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. Worse still, around 5% will be thrown away without even being regifted, sold or given to charity. This is such an easy one to avoid. Instead ask people what they want for Christmas and just buy them presents on their Christmas list or what they want / need, rather than wasting your money on useless tat that just ends up in the bin.

5.Don’t overuse wrapping paper and make sure it can be recycled

In the UK, we use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every single year, which averages out to about four rolls of wrapping per household. Out of that, more than 83km2 of it goes in the bin. To cut down on this huge amount of waste, make sure you buy wrapping paper that can be recycled. Also avoid paper that is heavily dyed or has any glitter or plastic on it. Even better, make your own wrapping paper by using brown parcel paper and decorating it yourself and tying it up with a ribbon. 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash


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I’m Henri, and welcome to Eco Friendly Henri, an eco-lifestyle blog providing tips and advice on how to live a more sustainable life.

My blog includes eco swaps, top tips, product reviews, interviews with eco brands and influencers, renewable energy stories and more.

I have always been eco conscious but raising my daughter opened my eyes to the fact that her generation will suffer if we don’t start making more changes to help protect the planet.

If you’d like to know more, please see my About page.

I hope you enjoy the blog.


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