Tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Dreaming of a green Christmas? Here are some tips from the university’s Environment team for a festive season that’s fun, frugal and eco-friendly!
Get a tree for life, not just for Christmas
Reuse an artificial tree or, if you have a real one, be sure to recycle it by taking it to your local drop-off or chopping it up into your garden waste bin. You can also buy or rent a living Christmas tree to plant in the garden or return to the supplier after Christmas to be used again the following year.

Be sustainable with sparkle
Christmas cards with glitter can’t be recycled as the glitter contaminates the recycled paper – even the biodegradable stuff – so avoid wherever you can. Also, be sure to do the scrunch test with your metallic wrapping paper, as it can’t be recycled if it doesn’t stay scrunched.

Trim back on the turkey
Be mindful of your meat and dairy intake over the festive period as it can greatly impact your carbon footprint – a turkey dinner has double the carbon emissions of a vegan nut roast. You can use a climate change food calculator to work out how your food choices impact the environment. Millions of tonnes of edible food are also wasted over Christmas each year, so avoid waste and freeze or get creative with your leftovers.

Give a gift that keeps on giving
It’s estimated that in 2018, spending on Christmas gifts that were unwanted by the recipient amounted to £1 billion in the UK alone. Avoid novelty or unnecessary items; instead try gifts that support a better world. Give the gift of a pledge, a charity donation or try out some sustainable DIY gifts, such as homemade body scrubs, beeswax wraps and sweet treats. Buying second-hand, local and from eco-friendly, independent brands are also great ways to lower the environmental impact of your goodwill.

Have yourself a plastic-free Christmas
Upwards of 150 million Christmas crackers are pulled every year, most filled with throwaway novelty plastics. Put a sustainable spin on these and other once-a-year items, such as advent calendars, by using recyclable or reusable casings and filling them yourself. You can also give zero waste gifts, such as bamboo coffee cups, shampoo bars, and wildflower seed-bombs.

Preserve your festive energy
Lights are one of the biggest energy guzzlers over Christmas. If you’re still dragging out the same set of lights you’ve used for years, then it might be time to upgrade to a new set of energy efficient LED lights, not forgetting to turn them off or when not in use. Save energy in other ways by keeping the thermostat low and staying toasty in your best Christmas jumper, and if you’re travelling to be with friends or family, try to lift share or take public transport.

Don’t forget to switch off for the holidays
As most staff prepare to take a well-earned break over Christmas, remember that it’s an opportunity to give the planet a break too. Even when everyone is away, offices and buildings still use power, so do what you can to make sure all electrical devices are switched off and unplugged, and clear out the fridges so that no food goes to waste.

Find more tips on how to have a more sustainable Christmas. Follow the university Environment Team on Twitter and Instagram @CovUniSust, or get in touch on with any questions, comments or ideas.