Skip to main content

12 tips for a sustainable Christmas

We all love to relax, recharge and enjoy ourselves over the festive period. But who doesn't feel a little frustrated by unwanted gifts, wasted food and mountains of wrapping paper in the bin? Small changes can make all the difference in reducing our environmental footprint, so we've gathered some brilliant tips and eco-friendly ideas for a green Christmas. However you are celebrating over the winter break, enjoy our 12 sustainable tips!

1. Choose a gift that lasts

You may have heard the age-old sentiment 'collect memories, not things' and this year has reminded us of the value of community and experience over material good. This Christmas, purchase items that the recipient really wants with value, purpose and meaning, or opt for an experience instead.

2. Shop locally

Small and independent businesses need all the support they can get this year so, where possible, buy your gifts, cards and decorations locally and enjoy the wonderful shop owners and staff community we have in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

3. Choose handmade gifts, cards, crackers and decorations!

Whether you bake, sew or paint, get creative this Christmas! How about skipping the unwanted toys and making your own personalised crackers from toilet paper rolls, advent calendars filled with homemade treats, or avoiding the plastic and making decorations from baked orange slices? When we were children, homemade cards were one of the best gifts out there – and that’s still the case! Put some time in by making your own and see how meaningful it can be!

4. Or second-hand…

There’s something quite nostalgic about pre-loved Christmas decorations. Charity and second hand stores can also be great place for unique gift ideas. A first edition copy of a favourite book, a watercolour painting by a local painter, a board game or that perfect Christmas jumper… go see what you can find!

5. Switch to eco-friendly wrapping paper

Did you know Brits use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year? Opt-out of the glittery, un-recyclable paper this year and opt-in to brown paper, recycled and recyclable paper, scrap paper that you’ve decorated or even fabric wrapping using Furoshiki folding. Remember to save your old gift boxes and bags, and skip the sticky tape and glitter where you can. What’s the prettiest zero-waste option you can find?

6. Look into alternative Christmas trees – rent, or turn your houseplant into a tree!

Forestry England have some great tips on making sure your Christmas tree is as sustainable as can be. They include, if you choose a real tree, making sure it is Grown-in-Britain certified, opting for a potted tree (which can last a lifetime, not just Christmas!), and recycling your tree after you’ve used it. If you’re opting for a fake tree, it’s estimated to take 10 years to make it environmentally worthwhile, so make sure you love it.

7. Switch to LED lights, which use up to 80% less energy

Christmas lights are a delight that are hard to get bored of, but they’re even more of a delight when they’re LEDs and use 80% less energy – happy family, happy wallet!

8. Send e-cards or plantable Christmas cards

Firstly, nobody needs the mass sending of Christmas cards with only ‘Happy Christmas’ written in them. This year, challenge yourself to only send a card if it’s got a personal message inside. If you want to still send a card but without the waste, opt for e-cards. If you want the real card, choose ones made with recycled card, ones with the FSC or PEFC logo to ensure it comes from well managed forests that support local people, or at least cards free of glitter so they can be recycled.

9. Go meat free, and cut food (and packaging) waste

A scary amount of food waste is created at Christmas, equivalent to 4.2 million plates of Christmas dinner going straight into the bin! Take steps to reduce your food waste by planning your food carefully, freezing leftovers and only buying what will be eaten. At the same time, consider reducing meat consumption, and your carbon footprint, with a tasty nut roast or veggie alternative. 

10. Re-wear your Christmas jumper

The crazier the better!

11. Choose one big present

We all know that Secret Santa gift we get and then forget about, shoved to the back of the cupboard, until we move. This year, avoid the tiny presents with no impact and consider choosing one gift for the whole family, or friendship group, that everyone can enjoy together.

12. Enjoy time together!

Overall, nothing is more important at Christmas than the people we spend it with. Consider how you can support people in the local community to combat loneliness, and enjoy rest, some wonderful walks in nature and quality time with loved ones this Christmas.

We hope this tips help you have a sustainable Christmas. Let us know if you do, and any others that you love by contacting the Sustainability Team at sustainability@bournemouth.ac.uk, or following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and merry Christmas.