Christmas has traditionally been a time of excess and indulgence, a few weeks of Christmas parties, overeating, and spending far too much! As we grow more and more aware of the impact our choices have upon the environment though, many of us are keen to make Christmastime more sustainable.
We’ve been giving some thought as to how reducing, reusing or recycling items can make Christmas more eco-friendly this year. So here are some ways to create a sustainable Christmas
Sustainable Christmas tree ideas
Manufacturing a plastic tree takes around 10 times as much energy as planting and growing a real one, so if you don’t already have one, then choosing a non-plastic alternative would be better for the environment overall.
If your current tree is plastic, the best thing you can do is keep using it
. It’s already been manufactured, and you can’t get that energy back or reduce your plastic consumption. Just enjoy it and try to avoid it going to the landfill for as long as possible!
In January each year, take care to dismantle your tree and fold each branch flat to avoid breakage. Store your tree in a sturdy, waterproof bag and keep it upright if possible. If you’re considering using a self storage unit
, your tree would be kept in a clean, dry environment away from direct sunlight and pests and won’t need a cover. You could keep it there with all your decorations so nothing gets broken, and you won’t have to face climbing into your loft!
If you’re creative, you could have fun making your tree from driftwood, branches or wooden offcuts from other projects. You could drill holes in the centre of your branches and string them together, arranged in size order, with the smallest at the top and the largest at the bottom. Or you could create a 2D tree shape with branches or strips of wood and hang it from your wall. Screw cup hooks to the bottom or ends of your branches to hang baubles, or use pegs to attach a string of fairy lights.
This is the most sustainable option - buying a Christmas tree that has been grown in a pot (rather than potted trees, which are grown in a forest, dug up and put into pots for sale - the roots of these are often too damaged to replant). You can keep it outside for most of the year, but bring it into your porch or greenhouse for a couple of weeks before bringing it inside to help it adjust to the change in temperature.
When you’re finished with it, pop it back on the porch or greenhouse again to acclimate it to the outdoors and then either keep it in its pot, replant it in a larger pot, or plant it in your garden. Bear in mind that if you replant it in larger pots each year, eventually, it will be too heavy to bring back indoors!
If you’re worried about bringing creepy crawlies into the house, give the tree a good shake outside. Then, dust with diatomaceous earth or spray with neem oil, which are safe and non-toxic to humans and pets (though keep neem oil away from fish).
Rented and 3D-printed trees
These are quite new options you might not have come across before. Some businesses rent out pot-grown trees
(ideal if you don’t have outdoor space to keep your tree all year round) or second-hand artificial trees. 3D-printed trees made from recycled materials are another great option for a sustainable Christmas tree - there are loads of designs available, from traditional to abstract modern patterns.
Sustainable gift-wrapping ideas
Most of us assume that wrapping paper can be recycled - it’s made from paper, and paper is recyclable, surely!? Actually, many types of wrapping paper contain plastics and foils that can’t be recycled. Sticky tape is also not recyclable, so even if you use recyclable wrapping paper, it might not be possible to recycle it if it’s covered in tape.
As a sustainable way to wrap your Christmas presents this year, consider investing in some ‘fat quarters’
of fabric or a few metres of material - you can buy it cheaply on the high street or online, and it can be reused year after year (ask your recipients to return it!). Tie it with string and decorate it with a sprig of holly to make it festive.
Brown paper is a really sustainable
and eco-friendly way to wrap your presents. It’s unbleached, so it takes less energy to produce in the first place, and you can leave it plain for a rustic look or decorate it with stencils or hand-drawn doodles if you’re feeling creative!
Or you could reuse the cardboard boxes your online goodies arrive in - remove the address labels and decorate to make the boxes look more festive
, and when they’ve been opened, make sure you remove all tape before popping them into your recycling bin.
Wrapping paper or material can be kept safe and out of the way for future use by storing it upright in a laundry basket. If you’re renting a self-storage unit for your Christmas tree and decorations, your wrapping paper can also be kept clean and dry there.
Sustainable fairy lights and decorations
LED bulbs are considerably more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, so when your existing fairy lights give up the ghost, you can find really pretty LED lights to replace them.
Your old fairy lights can be recycled!
They would be classed as small electrical items at your local recycling centre - some councils will collect them as part of your home recycling scheme.
Glass and plastic baubles can look beautiful, but they’re fragile and difficult to recycle as they’re often mixed with metal and foils. Opt for wooden, metal or fabric decorations that will last indefinitely and become a familiar part of your family Christmases.
Storage and Christmas
Renting a self storage unit for seasonal items is a great way to save space at home and ensure your belongings stay in one piece from year to year. Cramming belongings into cupboards or keeping them in cellars/lofts/sheds risks accidental breakage and damage from the elements and pests.
Storing your Christmas decorations, wrapping, and other seasonal items (e.g. garden furniture, camping gear, out-of-season clothing) is a great way to reduce waste and improve your sustainability at home.
If you’d like to know more about renting a self storage unit
, our friendly team is available to answer any questions and offer a no-obligation quote for your most conveniently located store.