Tips for a Plastic-Free Christmas

Christmas festivities are often wrapped up in an insane amount of plastic packaging. Follow our tips to help you enjoy a plastic-free Christmas

Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away. Our addiction to single-use and disposable plastic is having a devastating consequence on the environment, humans and animals.

We as consumers can make changes to try and ditch single-use plastic, which will hopefully put pressure on big companies to do the same.

From wrapped gifts to festive food, Christmas can often come with a whole lot of pointless packaging. However, we have asked our staff team and our ethical blogger community to share their tips to help you reduce your plastic footprint this Christmas.

Decorations 

From the baubles and tinsel to the actual tree itself, your festive décor might be bombarded with plastic! If you haven't got a Christmas tree buy a real one. Just make sure it comes in a pot with a root ball to make it last. If you already have a plastic tree, tinsel and plastic baubles don’t throw them away!  

Image: gingerbread men

The festive period should be about spending time with loved ones. DIY Christmas decorations are the perfect way to get the whole family involved.

Why don’t you create Christmas decorations good enough to eat? Bake a batch of gingerbread men/women for your tree. String some popcorn together and hang it up on the mantelpiece. Get the children involved and make paper snowflakes with your recycled/used paper you have lying around for the best (and cheapest) DIY window display. 

"Why spend money on decorations when you can simply go outside and find a ton of free supplies from Mother Nature herself? You can also turn this into a relational, non-commercial, experience by taking a foraging trip with your loved ones." - Francesca, Ethical Unicorn

“Fir cones look good on tree with a little bit of shiny paint (not glitter)” - Leonie, Ethical Consumer.

Presents

Try and set a challenge to encourage your family to only buy plastic-free presents this year. The easiest way to do this is to go DIY and make some home-made gifts instead of hitting the shops. Try your hand at home-made jams and chutneys in re-used glass jars.

Perhaps avoid material gifts altogether. See our guide to gifts with a twist which features alternative ideas such as charity donations or giving experience-based gifts.

'Why not look to turn the gifting ritual into an actual experience and explore DIY beauty. Whether you gift a DIY set to your loved one for you to make together or do the making yourself and hand them the result of your creativity, DIY gifting allows you to buy ingredients in bulk and re-use containers and other packaging to make your mindful gift truly unique and plastic free’ - Hanna Pumfrey, founder of Acala, the plastic & waste free beauty platform. 

Image: chutney

Last year it was reported that we will throwaway 108 million rolls of wrapping paper at Christmas time. This alarming statistic should be enough to stop you reaching for that brand new shiny festive roll. Why waste materials and money on something that will be thrown away? Surely it is what's inside that's the most important thing. 

If you haven't already hoarded away last year's wrapping paper in preparation, anything lying around will do, such as newspaper or old fabric. 

However, if you can't resist that festive print, you can find 100% recycled wrapping paper online. 

"Fabric scarf wrapping is always pretty, and a bonus gift! Get one from a charity shop" - Julia Brown, What a Waste Collective

"Re-use old Christmas cards as gift tag labels for your presents" - Jane Turner 

Festive Food

Ditch the supermarket and its pointless packaging. Instead get your veg from your local independent grocery or wholefood shop. You can find a list on our supermarkets guide. You can also support local organic farmers with a veg box scheme. Find out more in our feature on veg boxes.

"I will buy food for Christmas from my local wholefood shop where I can take re-fillable containers and cloth bags" - Anna, Ethical Consumer. 

"For plastic-free meat substitutes - go frozen! While the 'chilled' products contain plastic trays, the frozen versions often do not!" - Jane Turner

Image: brussel sprouts

There are now plenty of alternatives to clingfilm to help you store your Christmas leftovers, from tiffin tins to beeswax cloths. Just don't throwaway your plastic containers in favour of buying new ones.  

"I have three sheets of beeswax wrap from Lily Bee, and I couldn’t be happier. Beeswax wrap is quite simple: a piece of cloth is soaked in beeswax, to make it rigid but pliable, slightly sticky, and wipeable too. It makes for a great alternative to film or foil (another item you can’t recycle)" - Besma, Curiously Conscious blogger.