Have Yourself a Merry Little (Sustainable) Christmas 

Exciting news! Christmas is right around the corner.

And, after another 12 months of ups, downs, and everything in between, we can’t wait for the fun-filled festivities to commence.

Hold onto your baubles though.

Not to put a downer on proceedings (‘tis the season to be jolly, after all), but did you know Christmas is notoriously bad for the environment?

Alas, from plastic trees and unwanted gifts to meat-laden meals and millions of greetings cards, this most wonderful time of year definitely has its downsides.

The good news is there are countless ways to make things more eco-friendly.

Want some ideas on how to do it? We’d love to help! Read on for our ultimate guide on how to have a sustainable Christmas.

Quick-Fire Facts about Christmas and the Environment

Want to learn more about the extent of the Xmas environmental issues? Here are some rapid-fire facts to shed light on the situation.

According to this study from the University of Manchester, each Christmas the British public:

  • Chop down a whopping 8 million trees
  • Use enough wrapping paper to cover the island of Guernsey
  • Discard billions of greetings cards and
  • Chuck £1billion of delicious food away

If that wasn’t enough, the same study’s quoted in other sources saying our treasured Christmas dinners contribute 150 million miles worth of carbon emissions! That, apparently, is akin to a car driving around the globe 6000 times.

Honestly, the list of Christmas environmental issues goes on and on.

But we think you get the picture: it’s bad.

So, onto more positive things! In the coming sections, we’ll be offering some solutions to help you have the most eco-friendly Christmas ever!

Sustainable Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Gifts

A sensible place to start when looking at having a more sustainable Christmas is with those all-important presents.

After all, with tens of millions of people around the country receiving gifts from Santa (if they’ve been well behaved, of course), you can just imagine how much packaging and wrapping paper gets used, ripped, and discarded.

These awesome gift alternatives will significantly reduce the issue:

1. Experiences

Do you really need another Christmas jumper? How about that computer game, scented candle, or fancy new gizmo?

If not, then consider asking for experiences instead.

Not only do they never break, get lost, or shrink in the wash, but they’re also not material in nature. In other words, you’re ticking box number one of the “reduce, re-use, recycle” mantra! Trust us, less consumption’s always good news from Mother Nature’s point of view.

2. Sustainable Gifts

As you can imagine, not all gifts are made equal from an environmental perspective. 

If experiences aren’t your thing, then why not opt for material goods that are inherently sustainable in nature? 

Things like house plants, seeds, and homemade food are prime examples.

However, a growing number of brands now sell awesome eco-friendly items that are zero-waste, organic, and vegan-friendly to boot. From personal care to kitchen equipment, asking for and buying people these kinds of gifts makes a big difference. You could even try your hand at making your own gifts, upcycling is a great place to start turning something that would otherwise be trash into a new treasure, check out our blog where we look at how upcycling is becoming increasingly trendy1

3. Subscriptions

We know you can’t exactly wrap a Netflix subscription up and put it under the tree.

But hear us out!

Whether it’s for Audible, Spotify Premium or meditation apps like Headspace, Subscription gifts are some of the most useful and zero-waste options available. 

Recipients will use and appreciate them, which can’t always be said for ordinary Christmas gifts (more on this later). You can even check out Kids Clothing rental subscriptions… We’ve mentioned some of our favs over here!

4. Y’earn Bundles

This is, of course, a flagrant plug!

However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more sustainable and valuable gift for a parent than our very own Y’earn Bundles!

Renting Baby & Kids’ items for them from our other community members is a thoughtful and unique idea that’ll benefit both their youngsters and the world. When their kids no longer use them, we’ll find the Bundle a new home, saving the parent the hassle of getting rid of it.

Top Ways to Make Christmas More Sustainable

Mixing up your gift-giving isn’t the only way to have a sustainable day! Here are some other suggestions for bringing your Christmas carbon footprint down even further: 

1. Ditch the meat in favour of a vegan or vegetarian Christmas dinner (or even side dish!).

2. 74 million mince pies and 5 million Christmas puddings are thrown away every Christmas, this highlights the amount of food we buy because ‘it’s tradition’. So focus on buying what you eat! Plan your meal carefully and be aware of portion sizes to limit food waste. There are some great tips to enjoy a stress, waste and fuss-free feast here.

3. Put your festive lights on a timer to reduce electricity usage.

4. Buy sustainable advent calendars.

5. Its estimated that as many as 1 billion Christmas cards end up in the bin after the 25th, why not send out e-cards this year? Or you can opt for a more sustainable alternative such as plantable cards. After the holidays just plant the paper in soil and watch the seeds grow, while the paper slowly decomposes.

6. Shop locally instead of driving for miles or shipping from afar.

7. 8 million trees are bought every December in the UK, why not consider renting a Christmas tree instead of buying one?

8. Only give gifts you know people want, need, and will use! 

9. For the drinkers, consider buying sustainable booze from smaller brands.

10. Make people handmade gifts from materials you already have in the house. Paint, sew or bake gifts – it’s a great way to get the kids involved and teach them that homemade gifts can be better than bought – especially for the environment. Older relatives will cherish these personalised gifts more than another pair of slippers!

11. Pick gifts that do not require batteries as they are hard to recycle and contain chemicals.

12. The amount of wrapping paper which gets used at Christmas is enough to wrap around the Earth 9 times! So why not try reusable fabric wraps or opt for recycled paper and shred it after Christmas to use as protective wrapping?

Important Lessons from St. Nicholas

We thought we’d end this post with a quick shout out to St. Nicholas, the guy whose legacy we have to thank for the Santa Claus character we all know and love!

St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop, with an incredible beard, who became famous for helping those in need.

As a final idea for making this the most eco-friendly Christmas yet, why not follow in his shining example and do something good for others?

You could:

  • Donate old toys to kids’ charities
  • Donate unwanted winter clothes to the homeless
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Help out at food bank
  • List unwanted food and goods on Olio to share it in your community
  • And many, many more!

Whatever the case, you’ll be bringing joy to people on this special day and doing your bit for the planet in the process.

Christmas brings out the best in all of us! It’s a time of celebration, for spending time with loved ones, and embracing a little bit of indulgence for once.

However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of our beloved environment! With any luck, the tips, insights, and ideas in this guide will help you have the most fun-filled and sustainable Christmas yet.

Want some extra help on this topic? Click here to learn how to tell if something’s bad for the environment or not!

Y'earn's 12 Days of Sustainable Christmas
Y’earn’s 12 Days of Sustainable Christmas

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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now.

We know that it can feel like a struggle when you want to do good for your kids, the 🌎 and your community. That’s why we want to make it easier for you to embark on your own #MoreLoveLessWaste journey:

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Expect a big helping of humour and a lack of judgement. We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time. #MoreLoveLessWaste 💙

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Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people and small businesses in your community or make some cash if you have items you don't need right now. We plant 🌲 and adopt 🐝, plus give to children’s charities.

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