Have yourself a green Christmas: Top tips for an eco-friendly festive period

Want to be slightly more sustainable this Christmas? Take a look at these tips to help you out over the holiday season.

We're all getting more environmentally friendly as the years go by. So it's no surprise people now want to prioritise a green Christmas over a white one. Decorating your home with natural foliage and shopping secondhand are just two small things to go towards an eco-friendly Christmas.

Get the last-minute prep done with help from our Christmas ideas

This is according to expert and blogger Karen Maurice, AKA N4Mummy, who's let slip her sustainable Christmas secrets for 2019...

Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

Discarded present packaging, uneaten food and waiting in traffic jams over Christmas mean it can be a struggle to be green in December. But Maurice has teamed up with cardboard campaign group Beyond the Box to make the holidays more sustainable.

Reusing old decorations year-on-year and keeping a reusable bag or cardboard box with you when shopping join a list of eco-friendly tips.

gifts with paper wrap and string lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ania Wawrzkowicz)

Other pointers include using a timer switch so decorative lights only come on when it’s dark. You can also reuse cardboard boxes to wrap larger presents, and recycle them afterwards.

Most sustainable Yuletide ever

The words of wisdom come after research by Beyond the Box found 62 per cent of adults think Christmas is bad for the planet. As a result, the study of 2,000 people found 45 per cent intend to make this year their most sustainable Yuletide ever.

Karen Maurice said: 'Christmas is never as green as we want it to be, but having a sustainable festive season is easier than you might think. I have some helpful pointers which are easy for everyone to replicate, to help make the whirlwind that is Christmas that little bit more eco-friendly. Just a few small changes can make a real difference.'

Karen Maurice's top 10 tips for a sustainable Christmas

1. Use recyclable wrapping paper. You can check if your wrapping paper is recyclable by doing ‘the scrunch test’. Simply scrunch a piece of the paper in the palm of your hand - if the paper remains ‘scrunched’ it is paper-based and widely recycled in the UK. If the wrapping paper unfolds or springs back it cannot be recycled.

2. Turn last year’s Christmas cards into this year’s present labels - and recycle them afterwards

3. Don’t be afraid to give second-hand presents - a book you really loved reading, or a charity shop toy.

4. Reuse cardboard delivery boxes to wrap larger presents, along with some ribbon for a festive touch. You can recycle the cardboard boxes and reuse the ribbon afterwards, too.

5. Decorate your space with natural foliage. Plus choose a real Christmas tree - they have less of a carbon footprint compared to a fake one. You would have to reuse your artificial tree for 12 years to make it greener than a real tree.

Related: Real Christmas trees – how to choose, decorate and look after them

6. Reuse Christmas decorations year after year - and only buy a couple of new ones to replace any that are broken.

7. Search second-hand boutiques for your Christmas party outfit. And if you do need to buy new, then opt for natural fabrics that will biodegrade or fabrics that have been recycled.

8. Reduce food waste by finding creative ways of using up your Christmas Turkey. It tastes great as a curry, in a pie or even as part of a stir-fry.

9. Take a reusable bag, tote or even cardboard box with you Christmas shopping to cut down on single use carriers.

10. Set your Christmas lights up through a timer switch so they only come on as it gets dark outside and don’t run throughout the night. This will not only cut down on energy usage but also help save £s off your energy bill!

Avoiding plastic packaging

The study also found being sustainable is one of the biggest priorities for 38 per cent this Christmas. More than a third intend to actively avoid plastic packaging. While 30 per cent will use recyclable wrapping paper and 44 per cent plan to minimise food waste.

Around one-in-three will avoid buying gifts which don't come in recyclable packaging. While the same number will check where the item was made.

living area with fireplace and white sofa with and christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Another three in 10 will only give presents which benefit or minimise impact to the planet in some way. For instance buying Fairtrade products or making donations to charity. And three quarters believe everyone can make a difference - big or small - when it comes to having a sustainable festive period.

In fact, 57 per cent think an eco-friendly festive period would actually make the day more special - because it would be less materialistic. As a result, half intend to encourage their friends, family and colleagues to take a stand and have a truly sustainable Christmas.

Related: The eco-friendly trend that everyone is talking about this Christmas

Prioritise recycling

The study, carried out through OnePoll, also found half would like to see more eco-friendly products in shops. While the same number want more information on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

And a third believe local councils could help by expanding the range of household items they recycle.

Andy Barnetson, spokesman for Beyond the Box, said: 'Over the festive season it’s more important than ever for households to prioritise recycling. Particularly items like cardboard boxes, which can typically be recycled at least seven times.

'With a recycling rate of over 80 per cent, cardboard has the best recycling rate of any packaging material. To put this into perspective, this rate saves an area of cardboard the size of Greater London from landfill every four months.'

What more motivation do you need to make sure that it's not just your tree that's green this Christmas?