In 2019, we have seen a true awakening of the public’s awareness of the need for action on climate change. The looming climate emergency is rarely out of the headlines and as a result, people are switching to more sustainable lifestyles.
If you’ve been cutting back on plastic, sourcing local or more sustainable food and fashion, or even decided to limit your travel this year, you might be despairing at the blatant over consumption that comes with the festive season. In the UK, we produce an extra 30% of rubbish at this time of year, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday ‘deals’ enticing people into a frenzy of buying more and more. Christmas has become quite terrifying for sustainably-minded people. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Ethex, our ethical team want to enjoy Christmas, but without buying into the internet consumerism and contributing to the mountains of junk it generates - so we’ve put together our 5 tips to have a greener, more ethical Christmas:
1. Shop local
42% of festive spending in the UK is done online. Although this is easier for many than popping to the local high street, it means a lot of excess packaging and transport emissions to get to your door.
This year, why not try to buy as much as possible from local shops and producers? Not only will you significantly cut the carbon footprint of your Christmas shopping, but you’ll be supporting small, local businesses as well, and that should give you a warm, festive glow.
2. Support social enterprises
If you’re getting your shopping from smaller, local suppliers, then try to consider buying goods or experiences that support businesses that have an ethical or social mission.
Whether it’s your festive feast from an organic farm, or buying ethically-sourced, eco-friendly gifts that make a positive difference to lives, your shopping can be a conduit for good! Check out Social Enterprise UK’s directory, where you can search for businesses by type or location.
3. Ditch packaging and cards
It's satisfying to see a pile of neatly-wrapped Christmas presents, but here’s a shocking statistic: Consumers in the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year – and over 83km2 of this will end up in the bin. The bigger problem is that a lot of the pretty, shiny paper sold isn’t even recyclable.
And Christmas cards may have been a festive tradition for generations, but with the average UK person discarding 24 cards each year, this then means that 1 billion Christmas Cards will end up in our bins and that’s the equivalent of 33 million trees!
But you don’t have to contribute to this waste. If you get creative, you can come up with great ways to wrap presents using recycled or re-usable materials. Consider sending e-cards, or recycling last year’s cards makes a great family craft project. If you do buy wrapping paper, make sure it’s recyclable and that you recycle it.