A close-up of a person holding a Christmas present.

Top tips for a sustainable Christmas

By Ben Walker on 09 December 2019

Christmas – it’s the most wonderful, but arguably environmentally damaging, time of the year. During this period, we create a whopping 30% more waste than usual in the UK. However, in light of Extinction Rebellion and many waking up to the climate crisis, the spotlight is well and truly on sustainability.

At Firefly, we are always looking for new ways to contribute positively to the environment. This includes regular office litter-picks and working from home one day a week to help cut down our carbon emissions. In a bid to be more sustainable this Christmas, we’re sharing some of our top tips for reducing waste – without taking away any of the festive fun!

Wrapping paper

In the UK, a staggering 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used each year. Instead of buying brand new wrapping paper for your gifts this Christmas, why not reuse gift bags and paper from previous years? If you don’t have any saved, brown paper can look beautiful spruced up with string, and if you’re feeling super fancy, sprigs of holly, for a handmade touch. Another great hack is to wrap your presents in a scarf or piece of clothing, preferably pre-loved by yourself or from a charity shop. This can look just as good as wrapping paper and can even double up as another gift.

If you are desperate to buy new wrapping paper, a key tip is to avoid the plastic, foil and glitter variety, which cannot be recycled.

Christmas cards

To save on paper, you could think about sending an e-card this year. If you’d like to wish your friends and family a Merry Christmas the traditional way though, there are methods to counteract the use of all of that paper. As an example, we have decided to plant a tree for every card we send this year at Firefly (and for every new Instagram and LinkedIn follower we gain during our Christmas campaign). Cards made from recycled paper or seed paper are also great options.

Another idea is to set aside some time and give your loved ones a call, or even invite them for a cup of tea if you can. Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many. A proper chat with friends and family is underrated and could mean so much more than receiving a card or email.

Christmas wrapping paper and labels.

Gift sustainably

We all know someone who struggles, or down right refuses, to get on board with sustainability – they never bring their own bag for food shopping and use takeaway paper cups when getting their daily coffee fix. If someone springs to mind and you’re stuck on what to buy them this year, why not consider one of the many beautifully designed and slick eco-friendly products currently on the market? Even the least sustainable among us won’t be able to resist using them!

A few ideas to get you started are reusable water bottles, coffee cups, cutlery and straws, shampoo and soap bars, and our personal favourite, plants! For a more homemade touch, why not bake or cook something delicious yourself?

To avoid unnecessary waste, we would also encourage you to really think about your gifts, and whether the person you’re buying for will use and appreciate them. If you are unsure, it might be best to gift them an experience instead, such as a meal at their favourite restaurant or a voucher for an activity they’ve always wanted to do.

Christmas dinner

It goes without saying that incorporating less meat into your Christmas feast will have a positive effect on the environment. If this isn’t possible though, try to source free-range and organic produce where possible – and don’t forget your reusable bags for the shopping!

When it comes to cooking Christmas dinner for the whole family, planning is key. Christmas is a shocking time of year for food waste, so make sure you plan to ensure as little as possible goes to waste – but let’s be honest, the leftovers are often the best bit! If you do have anything that you are unable to use, be sure to pop it in the compost.

When it comes to shopping, be aware that Christmas is the time of year when businesses can really cash in, and as a result are trying to make us spend as much as possible. Be wary of advertising telling you that you need what they’re selling and take a moment to really think about whether you, or whoever you are buying for will use and treasure it. We guarantee thinking this way will be beneficial to you, and your bank balance.

Vegetables in baskets at a market stall.

We’d love to hear your best sustainability hacks for the festive period, so do let us know what you’ll be doing to help, or if you use any of our tips. Follow us on all of our social media channels for our 12 Sustainable Christmas tips in the lead up to the big day. And last but not least, the Firefly team wish you a very Happy Christmas!

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