Top Tips for a Sustainable Christmas

Christmas is a time of year we all want to indulge ourselves, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of the planet. Here are seven tips to help you have a sustainable festive season.   

1. Rent a tree

Seven million Christmas trees enter landfill every year in the UK. After the festive period, our rotting Christmas trees produce over 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases! The environmentally friendly alternative? Rent a tree instead! Or, at least make sure you chose FSC Certification – this is the only way to confirm that your tree has been sourced sustainably. Also look for Soil Association approval to check if your tree is organic. If your department has a real Christmas tree on campus, please contact Gardens & Grounds to collect it once you’re done.  

2. Decorate your home with nature

Avoid cheap plastic, glittery decorations and use what you already have wherever you can. Save money and go natural by making wreaths from foliage. If you have holly branches, berries or ivy growing in your garden you can use these or go out for a walk and collect some locally. This can then be composted after the Christmas period. If you plan to send Christmas cards, go for those without microplastics and glitter and choose FSC sourced and fair trade cards that support a charity. 

3. Rave about second-hand

Set yourself a challenge and buy your festive outfit second-hand in one of the many brilliant charity shops and vintage stores around the city. Buying fair trade gifts is another good way to have a greener Christmas, supporting farmers and organic growing practices – check out Traidcraft for ethical gift inspiration.  

You could also let your friends and family know you’re more than happy to receive second-hand items for Christmas, or for them to make a charitable donation on your behalf. You could even ask to have a tree planted to offset some of your carbon footprint!  

4. Enjoy active travel over Christmas traffic

Connect with the environment, enjoy fresh air and keep your carbon footprint down by walking, cycling or using public transport this Christmas. Where possible, choose the train to visit relatives further afield – a car journey from London to Liverpool (in an average petrol car) produces 62kg of CO2e, whilst the train for the same journey is just 15kg per person. Try to avoid flights – a return trip London to New York is 1.8 tonnes of CO2e per person which is equivalent to around 1/5 of your yearly emissions. 

5. Have a low-impact party

Swop the beige buffet for tasty vegan hors d’oeuvres, vegetable tapenades and fruity sorbets to surprise and delight your guests while reducing your carbon footprint. You can also forget about floppy paper plates and disposable table clothes – hire all your tableware essentials from the Party Kit Network, sometimes for free!   

6. Re-organise and clear out your workspace 

Slow down and connect with the reason for the season. Quieter periods are a chance to re-organise and have a clear out of your desk/office – use the Waste Management Guide to find how to responsibly reuse and recycle. Start to clear your fridge of food and drinks a week before you leave to avoid unnecessary waste and remember to adjust any scheduled grocery deliveries.  

7. Shut down and switch off devices

Have a walk-round of your office and see what non-essential electrical items might need switching off. A single monitor and computer left on 24 hours a day will cost around £45 a year. A photocopier left on overnight uses enough energy to make over 5,000 A4 copies. Fridges, kettles and microwaves can all be unplugged over Christmas if nobody is using them.  

When you get back in January, remember that if a monitor is turned off when not being used (e.g., lunchtimes), and the standby options are activated, energy consumption can be reduced by 90% per year!  


Have you any more tips to share? Leave a comment to let us know your top festive sustainability tips! 

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