Eco Christmas

Eco Christmas Ideas:

Drawn together from various sources, from our own trials (and errors) a few ideas for you to make your Christmas slightly more eco-friendly, without losing the true spirit and meaning of Christmas – celebrating God bringing Jesus Christ into the World.

‘“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).’ Matthew 1 verse 23 (ESV)

Slow down and focus on the here and now. Appreciate the aspects of Christmas that you enjoy only once a year – Christmas smells, family traditions.

Christmas Cards

To send cards or not to send cards?  This is very much a personal choice.  If you are delivering locally consider hand delivering – why not turn it into a nice afternoon walk.  Some local scout groups deliver locally for a small donation to their fundraising: this supports your local group and saves you time.

Choose your Christmas cards carefully, avoiding cards with lots of plastic sparkle that cannot be recycled.  Many organisations are now producing cards from sustainably sourced or recycled paper.

At the end of the festivities remember to recycle your cards, several large high street organisations have collection points.  At Wokingham Borough Council you can put card / paper cards in the black bin recycling.

Christmas Gift Ideas

The giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas is a very special part of Christmas.  Whether you are wanting to be an eco-warrior or you are buying for friends and family who are trying to live, sustainably, ethically or just living lightly and without detracting from the meaning behind the sharing of gifts here are a few ideas of more eco-friendly or sustainable gifts this Christmas. 

  • Gift of charity: show your thoughtfulness by sending a gift that will grow such as sending an animal – goat, piglet, cow, beehive or chicken or sponsor a child (Compassion), (Action Aid),  (World Vision) or (A Rocha Gifts with a Difference)
  • Give an experience / activity instead of a physical gift.  This could be a meal or afternoon tea, a theatre/cinema voucher to a thrill-seeking day out, or the gift of a magazine subscription (paper or digital) or a membership to a group or annual pass.
  • Think quality of the present rather than quantity. 
  • Consider giving ethical smellies made from natural, cruelty free, vegan ingredients.
  • Handmade gifts: handmade nibbles, jams, jellies or chutneys to something knitted, a crafted a wreath, or sewn gifts such as Christmas tablecloth and napkins, veg bags.
  • Why not give a sustainable gift to help cut single use items such as a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee cup, tote or jute bag, lunch caddy, etc.
  • Give a gift of an item that has been made from recycled components.
  • Gift of a “Christmas Cheque” making your time the gift – promise to babysit, share an afternoon walk together, promise of breakfast in bed, etc.
  • Gift the gift of a book on sustainable living, reducing plastic use. There are 100’s on the market now.
  • When considering your wrapping swap tinsel and glitter for natural foliage – rosemary, ivy, and holly. Avoid wrapping paper with a metallic finish as this cannot be recycled. Even better, avoid single-use Christmas paper altogether and use brown paper to wrap your presents as this can be reused.

Decorating ideas

  • Home make wreath from natural items from your garden or from foraged items.  A wreath of pine cones or edible herb wreath, wreath made of recycled Christmas cards. 
  • Trees: 

If you already own an artificial tree, then use it for as long as you can. If you are looking for a pre-loved artificial tree then search on Freegle, Freecycle, eBay, Gumtree or put out an advertisement locally on social media.

If you choose a real (Norway Spruce or Nordmann Fir) consider one that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or Soil Association approved. Remember once you have finished with your tree and stored all your decorations for next year put you tree out for recycling (only available in Wokingham if you subscribe to the Brown Bin) or take to the tip / recycling centre where the trees are shredded and turned into plant mulch or compost.

Grow you own tree.  Buy a potted Christmas tree (making sure it’s FSC certified), but remember it will need looking after it all year round.

Have a different type of Christmas Tree – buy a young Scots Pine that has been cut down as part of heathland management schemes in Berkshire run by the local conservation groups. Other sustainably-produced Christmas decorations (willow wreaths and stars made from local willow coppice as well as pine cones, holly, mistletoe, etc.) will also be for sale nearby.

Why not have something completely different like a driftwood tree, a pallet tree, a mini paperback book tree.  Alternatively, you could decorate a Yucca, Palm fig or a large indoor plant.

  • Advent Calendar: Consider making or buying a re-usable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free treats, or fill with fair trade chocolate.
  • Lighting: If you are replacing your Christmas lights consider going for LED lighting, or if lighting externally, consider the use of solar lighting.  Both ideas produce an equal amount of sparkle and joy but consumes less electricity.

Christmas Dining Ideas

  1. Enjoy Christmas meals using LOAF principals (local, organic, animal friendly and fair trade) such as choosing locally grown or reared items for your Christmas table – local turkey, local free-range eggs for baking, locally or home-grown vegetables.  These will not only support your local economy but save on “air miles.”  Or why not try some vegetarian recipes such as Vegetarian Wellington, Squash and Ricotta Wreath, Cranberry and Lentil Bake, or go Vegan with Sweet Potato Parcel, or Butternut Squash stuffed with Pesto Rice?
  2. Do you use a plastic tablecloth? Why not purchase a length of cotton Christmas fabric, hem the edges or cut with pinking shears leaving a pretty edge.  This can be use on your table, washed and stored with your Christmas decoration to be used each year.  If you buy some extra fabric you could make some fabric napkins to replace disposable paper napkins.  Again, the napkins can be washed after used and stored with your tablecloth and decorations.  These are then are more than single use.  (You could even make them as a gift for friends and family.)
  3. Christmas Crackers? If you are looking at reducing your plastic at Christmas you might want to avoid, plastic lined cracker boxes and throw away plastic toys, then there are becoming more and more eco-friendly options:

•  crackers containing wooden toys

•  buy recyclable crackers made from recyclable board and containing no plastic (more widely available this year than in previous – try a google search)

•  make your own crackers containing handwritten jokes and paper hats, and your own treats

Festive Fun

  • Consider a festive walk locally – along the Thames Path, in a local park or on National Trust grounds, or Windsor Great Park.
  • Consider car sharing at this festive season to events, celebrations etc.
  • Dust off those board games in your cupboard and have some fun!

Whatever you do this Christmas why not try one eco-Christmas idea!