The festive season is here and we expect a lot of people are looking forward to parties and gatherings after a difficult year. But, we should also remember that December frequently can take a toll on many people mentally and financially, as well as have a large impact on the environment. Today, we are offering tips on how to have a more sustainable Christmas. Many of these ideas will help reduce the impact you have on the earth while saving you money and stress too.
Preparations & Decorations
For many, the build-up to Christmas is just as enjoyable as the day. Here are some ideas on how to prepare and decorate your home in an eco-friendly and ethical way.
Use What You Have
The best decorations are filled with memories, so utilise what decorations you already have rather than buying new ones every year. If you don’t have any decorations, you can either make them (always fun to craft as Christmas), or visit your local charity shop that stocks new and second-hand decorations for a fraction of the price.
Support Local Artists
If you want to add a few more decorations to the tree this year, support local artists and makers who create decorations. Not only will you have some beautiful and unique decorations, but energy and transport costs are also saved by spending locally.
Opt For Recyclable Cards
Over 1 billion Christmas cards are sent in the UK each year. Christmas cards are a joy to send and receive but they are often are difficult to recycle causing a lot of extra waste. Choose cards that are made fully from card/paper and avoid ones with non-recycled elements like glitter or ribbon. Many independent retailers also stock cards without a plastic sleeve reducing waste further.
Keeping It Light
Some of the most beautiful decorations at Christmas are the dazzling light displays to make the winter months feel cosier. All that lighting though can soon rack up your energy bill so here are some options to reduce costs. If you buy new fairy lights, look for LED lights that use less energy. Ensure you only run your lights when you are in the house, use a plug timer if that helps. Or you can go old-school and use candles. Natural candles like those made from Soy or Coconut wax are better for the environment and for your health. But remember, never leave a candle unattended.
Waste Free Food & Drinks
Food and drink is a big part of our holiday celebrations but can often lead to a lot of packaging and food waste. Here are some tips on keeping things delicious and environmentally conscious. Also, check out more ideas from our friends at Can Do South Yorkshire, who’ve written an amazing article on How to reduce the climate impact of your Christmas Dinner.
Plan Your Meals
Planning your Christmas menu is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce food waste. Buy and prepare food for the right number of guests. Only make recipes you know everyone loves so there is no food waste. Ask any guests if they have a favourite tipple, rather than fully stocking the bar. A little bit of planning will make sure you stick to a budget and you’ll enjoy your seasonal meals with less stress.
Choose Local & Seasonal
If you’re the head chef this year, why not shop locally and seasonally for your food. Buying seasonal produce is better for the environment as often fewer resources are needed to grow and transport it. By shopping locally, you can reduce transport emissions further and keep money in your local economy. Visit your butcher, baker or greengrocers this December to get quality products that are locally grown this season.
One big way to make your festive food more sustainable is to reduce or eliminate plastic. While not easy to do, here are a few tips. Choose food that’s in glass, card or tins, as all of these can be easily recycled by the majority of councils. If the only options are in plastic, you may opt for the biggest bag you can afford as this will reduce packaging. But, you should only do this if you will use the food and it won’t go to waste. Swapping just one food item to a plastic-free option is a small change that could lead to a big difference if we all do it.
Plan for leftovers
No worries if you do end up with too much food at the end of the big day. Here are some top tips to make sure that food doesn’t go to waste. Use your freezer to store leftovers, you’ll have nice cosy meals ready for any night you don’t feel like cooking. Plan ahead other recipes you can make with your leftovers and you’ll have plenty of interesting things to eat from boxing day to New Year’s Eve. Love Food Hate Waste have countless tips and tricks on using up food items.
Gifts That Keep On Giving
Apparently, we spend over 5 billion pounds on unwanted gifts in the UK. So this year, make sure you buy gifts that people will truly want or need. If you don’t know what someone would like, it’s okay to ask. And if you’d like to make it a surprise, here are a few sustainable gift ideas.
Food & Drink Gifts
We love food and drink at ShefFood! And we think that consumable gifts are always a great option because they are not frequently wasted. Our top tips to ensure these gifts remain sustainable include shopping local, buying plastic-free where possible, choosing recyclable containers and supporting ethical initiatives like Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance.
Giving Your Time
If you are a bit crafty or a great cook, making your own gifts are often much better for the environment than a shop-bought purchase. Your time and energy can produce a meaningful gift that your loved ones will treasure. If you don’t have the skills to make a gift, offer your time instead. We all need a little help sometimes so offering your services can be gift enough. Cleaning, gardening, babysitting are all simple tasks that can show someone you care.
Buying experiences rather than a product is a great gift for that someone who has everything. Plus, there will be limited packaging and emissions from your purchase. Of course, the sustainability of the experience should be considered but it’s a good option for many who might be looking for some fun and adventure in 2022.
Donations to charities or non-profits are beautiful gifts that keep on giving. Perfect for anyone who had a passion for a particular cause, or doesn’t need or want anything this year. There are many amazing organisations out there to choose from but we’d like to highlight two particular ones this year. Your local food bank and tree planting.
December is a difficult time for many and our food banks provide an amazing service during the holiday and throughout the year to those in need. Donations can come in the form of food (check your local food bank for what they need currently) and money. Cash donations allow food banks to buy extra items and necessities that aren’t frequently donated.
Planting trees is another amazing gift to give. Plus, if it’s a UK planting programme they may even be able to visit their tree(s). Planting trees helps fight the climate crisis by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, keeping carbon in the soil, reducing soil erosion and providing shelter and nutrition for other plants and animals around the world.
We’d love to hear your sustainable Christmas tips. Share them on social media using the hashtag #sheffood or tag us @sheffoodsocial