Here at City to Sea, we believe in enjoying the festive season without the unnecessary excess. To make having a Plastic-Free Christmas just that little bit easier (because life’s complicated enough), here are our top tips for a Christmas that doesn’t cost the Earth.
The true cost of Christmas
For some it’s still the most wonderful time of the year…but it’s also possibly the most wasteful. In the UK, we get through a whopping 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging over the Christmas period – and that’s just for presents! When it comes to Christmas cards, we send enough that if we put them side by side, they would wrap around the world a dizzying 500 times.
Sparkly or shiny wrapping paper might look exciting, but most of the time it’s not recyclable. Every 1kg of wrapping paper is associated with 3.5kg of CO2 emissions! As a nation we use 227,000 tonnes of decorative paper every year, which amounts to as much carbon as around 250, 000 return flights from London to Australia. Try swapping wrapping paper for scarves or use brown wrapping paper and string for a greener alternative.
While Christmas is undoubtedly a magical time for children, that magic often doesn’t make it into the New Year. Research suggested that by March, 41% of toys will be broken or kids will have become be bored of them – this means they’ll either end up in the back of a cupboard somewhere or worse, in landfill.
Swaps are an amazing thing to do all year round to reduce your waste, but especially come in handy around Christmas. Whether it’s toy swaps, clothes swaps or anything in between, you can avoid buying new and make sure you aren’t adding clutter to your house all at once. It’s simple – just bring along any unwanted items and swap them for something that you can give a new home. If you can’t find any near you, why not take it upon yourself to start your own? At work, at school or at a local community centre, spread the word and get swapping!
Give the gift of presence instead of presents
We think that being there to spend time with your family and friends is the greatest gift that you could give at Christmas, and making memories together goes a lot further than a shiny new present. In return let your loved ones know that their presence is all that you want for Christmas and that you or your kids don’t need any novelty items, gadgets, bath sets or toys under the tree this year.
Another great way to have a plastic-free Christmas is to give experience gifts instead of items, which can also be a great way of trying out something new (although avoid the high carbon race track days and flying experiences).
You could always give something back while you gift with a charity gift or donation? If that takes your fancy then consider a donation to City to Sea to help power our planet protecting campaigns!
If you still want to buy something brand new, why not go for the planet-friendly option and check out our plastic-free shop. You could encourage that stubborn family member to start their plastic-free journey with a lovely zero-waste set. If they’re still hooked on plastic drinks bottles, why not get them a stylish Chilly’s bottle? Did you know that when you buy a Chilly’s X Refill bottle, Chilly’s donate £10 towards our work here at City to Sea? It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
Plastic-free christmas Feasting
Mince pies, mulled wine and Brussel sprouts…It wouldn’t really be Christmas without all of the amazing food and drink would it? This year plate up a flavoursome feast but ditch the plastic that usually comes along with it.
Stock up on your dry goods at your local zero waste shop. Just take along your containers and fill them up with nuts, grains and whatever else you might need. Not sure where to find your local shop? Take a look at this store locator to find one near you.
Who doesn’t love boxing day leftovers? Make sure to cut down on food waste and keep all of your uneaten food. Remember – forget the cling film and go for plastic-free reusable food wraps such as these ones made from bees wax.
Eating and drinking seasonally, locally and organic are also fantastic ways to take care of the planet in your daily life, but especially at Christmas. Why not try visiting your local greengrocers for your fruit and veg, or find an organic box scheme.
You could also stock up on some organic booze to really get the party going. We love Vintage Roots because with every crate purchased, 10% of profits will be donated back to City to Sea.
Deck the halls
Deck the halls with boughs of holly, but remember to steer clear of plastic decorations whether it’s tinsel, plastic baubles or an artificial Christmas tree. If you already have some from previous Christmases got themsome second hand then not to worry, but avoid buying any of these new.
Crackers at the Christmas table are a pretty wasteful tradition that results in huge amounts of waste. Most Christmas crackers are non-recyclable and are by definition single-use. The toys inside often will just get swept straight in the bin – talk about a throwaway culture. In the UK alone we get through a whopping 154 million crackers. That’s a lot of plastic. So, if you don’t feel like they’re essential, perhaps you could give them a miss. Alternatively you could have a go at making your own or go for a greener brand.
If you are buying a new Christmas tree, go for a real, locally grown one. To save buying a new one every year, you can make sure the tree still has roots so that it can stay alive for years to come and keep it in the garden in between Christmases. If you do get one that will die after it’s been used, make sure you dispose of it sustainably by either making sure it’s composted or in a chipping scheme. Alternatively you could try and get your hands on a second-hand artificial tree and give it a new home.
Christmas means it’s party season! It’s the time to get together with friends, family and colleagues to let your hair down. Having a plastic-free Christmas doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on fun.
Scroll back up to the ‘Plastic-Free Feast’ section to recap on eco-friendly booze and food. When it comes to serving up your food and drink, avoid using disposable items. Swap plastic plates and cutlery for proper chinaware or go for food that you can hold while you eat such as wraps. Move away from plastic cups and go for proper glassware instead. For larger parties where this may be more challenging, not to worry - Waitrose offer a free glass hire service and if you purchase your drinks from Majestic, they lend out glasses for free as well.
If you’re having your party catered, try to choose a sustainable caterer or if you’re not sure where they stand give them a ring and ask for your food to be free of cling film and other single-use items.
Want to dress to impress? Go second hand and check out your local charity shops, vintage shops or sites like Depop to give someone’s old party dress or shirt a new lease of life. Remember to avoid buying any new clothes, especially those on the cheaper, low-quality side or items with sequins or glitter. You could also get hands-on and have a go at crafting your own plastic-free Christmas jumper!
The golden rule is to buy less and value what you already have a bit more.
Material things aren’t what makes Christmas so brilliant, it’s the beautiful moments spent with people you love that make this time of year so special. Let’s make this festive season really fantastic by cutting down on needless plastic!