12 ways you can have a greener Christmas in 2021

What about using natural resources like pine cones for decorations rather than plastic? Credit: Environment Agency

We all know that Christmas is a magical time of year - but it is also one of the most wasteful.

The amount of cardboard packaging the country produces is approximately 300,000 tonnes - that is enough to wrap Big Ben almost 260,000 times according to Recycle Now.

So what can we do to make our Christmas greener?

Here are 12 top tips from the Environment Agency which can help to minimise the impact of your celebrations this year.

1. Christmas Tree: An artificial Christmas tree needs to be used for approximately 10 years for its environmental impact to be lower than a real tree. Better still, consider a potted tree and then plant it outside after the festive season.

2. Christmas Eve Box: Invest in a reusable Christmas Eve box that can be used for many years to come, perhaps even becoming a family heirloom.

3. Gifts: Why not give eco gifts to family and friends? It could be something like a reusable coffee cup, reusable makeup remover wipes or a solid shampoo bar which will lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. You could even gift a membership to a charity or wildlife trust, helping to support environmental work.4. Wrapping presents: Use recyclable wrapping paper where possible – if it has foil or glitter on it then it cannot be recycled and could contain plastic. Use old newspaper to wrap gifts or even recycle last year’s paper.

Buying your real tree from a certified by 'Grown in Britain' supplier will ensure it is from a legal and sustainable UK source. Credit: Environment Agency

5. Bows: Instead of adding plastic ribbons to your gifts that will end up in landfill, why not use a more sustainable alternative like a fabric bow that can be kept and re-used? When fabric bows/ribbons come to the end of their life, dispose of them with other textiles recycling.

6. Cards: We throw away approximately one billion Christmas cards every year. It would take the equivalent of 33 million trees to make that amount of card. If possible, buy cards printed on FSC-certified, recycled card and are recyclable. Even better, make your own from recycled card.

7. Decorations: Avoid using single-use decorations. Why not get crafty and make some homemade decorations instead. You could use natural resources like decorated pinecones or make your own natural star using twigs.

8. Christmas Dinner: Try and buy as many ingredients as possible from local suppliers. Dairy products are harmful when poured down the kitchen sink as they require a large amount of oxygen to break down, meaning less oxygen in the water for wildlife. If you do have dairy leftovers, recycle them in your food waste bin.

It would take the equivalent of 33 million trees to make the amount of cards we throw away each Christmas.

 9. Christmas wreath: Avoid wreaths adorned with plastic accessories and glittery decorations. Not only are these made using non sustainable materials, but they can be harmful for birds and wildlife if hung outside. Go for a real, fresh wreath made using seasonal, natural foliage or make your own.10. Christmas Crackers: Get rid of glitter and plastic-laden Christmas crackers in favour of home-made ones, using FSC-certified, recycled paper and paper ties - or buy environmentally-friendly ones if you can. 11. Christmas walk: Instead of a Christmas drive or just dropping down in front of the TV why not go out for a Christmas walk? Being in a green space has been shown to be good for your physical and mental health.12. Glitz and glam: Did you know that cosmetic and sanitary wipes contribute to 93% of sewer blockages in the UK? Even when they do not contain plastic, the majority of these wipes do not break down due to the non-woven material which which they are made.