Green christmas 2023

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The coming holiday season has long associations with green; from Yule logs to Christmas trees, greenery is integral to our winter traditions. Even Father Christmas wore green in the Victorian period! Today, I wanted to share some of the green activities and practices you can do this December to celebrate the festivities whilst boosting our local economy and protecting our planet. 

One of my favourite things about Christmas is meeting people and enjoying festive fun. Sheffield has fantastic places to visit year-round, and December is no different. 

Sheffield is known for its green spaces and abundance of trees, so if you can wrap up warm, you can visit one of the many parks in the city. There are 13 City parks, 20 district parks and over 50 local parks in Sheffield, so there is plenty to explore. 

If you’d like to make a day of it, visiting one of Sheffield’s animal farms is an excellent activity for kids and adults. Graves Park Animal Farm and Heeley City Farm are fantastic options with many farm-yard animals. If you’d like something more exotic, though, why not book a trek with the alpacas at Holly Hagg farm? 

But if you can’t stand the cold a moment longer, there are some excellent indoor options, too. The Botanical Gardens’ glass pavilions hold a variety of plants from around the world, and they’re always cosy inside. The city centre Winter Gardens is another perfect spot to stay warm and enjoy the lush greenery of the more tropical variety. You can also get straight through to Millennium Galleries to extend the fun further. 

Staying local and enjoying our fantastic parks and landscapes is a vital part of maintaining their upkeep because they need visitors to thrive. While many organisations that run these spaces will welcome donations and a trip to the gift shop (perfect for Christmas gifts), the great thing is that these spaces are free for everyone. So, they make an ideal free family trip during an expensive time of year. They also have many free activities, especially for children, to get involved in, from nature walks to arts & crafts workshops.

 Another wonderful part of December is the many Christmas markets and fairs across the city. There is, of course, the main Christmas market in the Peace Gardens, but there are countless others where you can find superb local food and handmade Sheffield gifts, including the following. The S12 Community Pantry Jingle & Mingle Christmas Market and the Nether Edge Farmers Market are both on the 3rd of December. Pollen Inner-City Flower Market and Haggler’s Corner Christmas Market are both on the 10th of December. 

By shopping locally, you can have a more minor environmental impact. Local shops often source their goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. When shopping locally, people are also more likely to walk or cycle to get there – doing their bit to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic and improve the quality of the nation’s high streets. There are also significant economic benefits to spending money within Sheffield rather than further away or online. Research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, around 63p remains in the local economy. This compares with around 40p with larger firms.

Another way you can support Sheffield businesses while being super green is by buying local food for the holidays. Food is a massive part of December, and it’s what brings many of us together. If you are hosting this year, why not use locally grown and reared fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy, and other ingredients? 

Sheffield has a growing sector of urban farmers producing seasonal foods that are fantastic for the environment and our communities. You can order fruit and vegetable boxes from several Sheffield outlets, such as Beanies Wholefoods, Sheffield Organic Growers, Regather Cooperative, and Moss Valley Market Garden.  Plus, many of these have Christmas-specific hampers with everything you need for the big day.

For other local holiday food options, check out local producers and shops like Pat O Brien Butcher’s, Porter Brook Deli, Tenyana Wines, Starmore Boss, Our Cow Molly, Just Natural and Quality Ferments. Sheffield has a remarkable selection of food businesses across the city that can make your Christmas food shop a bit more green. 

Of course, the holiday period often results in a lot of waste, from leftover food to gifts that are returned immediately or thrown in the bin on Boxing Day.  So, if you’d like to make your December and the new year a little bit greener, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help your wallet and the world. 

Buy presents that people really want, so you don’t overspend on items that will end up in the bin quickly or donated immediately. I love using this phrasing to help buy gifts, and it fits any budget; “Something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need”.  Another top tip is to plan your meals out for the holiday period. Food waste can be avoided with a little planning and thinking of leftover recipes ahead of time. If you have any quality leftover food that can be donated,, please consider contributing to your local food bank and community pantries. Visit Voluntary Action Sheffield, for projects local to you.

You can visit the ShefFood partner page to discover more local food organisations you can support this December.  

The Good Food Movement

Growing & Composting