How to have a sustainable Christmas

How to have a sustainable Christmas

I think we can all agree that we’re due a little cheering up this year. It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, but the holiday season doesn’t have to be wasteful. Here are a few tips and ideas to help you have a sustainable Christmas.


CONSCIOUS GIFTING

Shop local where you can and help keep your community’s economy turning. Smaller shops oftentimes take more care when sourcing materials and producing goods. Find gifts that will last the test of time – such as a potted plant or a handmade scarf. Better yet, find a gift that’s already been recycled – upcycled clothes or second hand books are both great options.

A Christmas plant no, really

REUSABLE WRAPPING

Now that you’ve bought the sustainable gifts, don’t ruin all your hard work by wrapping them in single use, shiny paper (not all wrapping paper is recyclable). Why not make some drawstring gift bags to put your presents in? Invest in some patterned material or better still, find an old shirt or item of clothing you no longer wear and upcycle that into a bag – double points for the eco-warrior! If sewing isn’t your thing, make sure you buy 100% recyclable wrapping paper and dispose of it properly.

Handmade gift bags are a sustainable alternative to wrapping paper

ALTERNATIVE FOOD

Now I know it’s Christmas, but why not consider some vegetarian dishes to cut down on the meat consumption this year? I’m not suggesting you forgo your Christmas day Turkey but you’d be surprised how tasty the alternatives are. Check out this mushroom wellington recipe we had last year. When you do buy meat, try to buy from your High Street’s butcher – they’re far more likely to have a local source, and could do with the support. If you buy your meat from the supermarket pay attention to the source (it will say on the packet and you can ask the servers at the meat counter). 

Mushroom Wellington: plant-based food as a sustainable alternative to meat
Mushroom wellington

OLD SCHOOL ENTERTAINMENT

You’d be surprised at how good some of those moth-eaten board games are at the back of your parents cupboard. Get them out or teach the family a game of cards before you buy something new – or better still, improvise (after eights anyone?).

Who am I? game

SUSTAINABLE DECORATIONS

I’m sure a lot of us have already tried our hand at something creative over lockdown – and what could be more satisfying than hand-making Christmas decorations? Dried oranges, pine cones, upcycled ribbons – the possibilities are endless. Get yourself on Pinterest and get the glitter out (if nothing else, at least it’ll keep the kids quiet whilst you do some last minute prep!).

Dried fruit decorations - pretty and sustainable
Dried fruit is easy and effectiveand makes the house smell great!

GOOD HABITS AREN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

Don’t stop there! Use the momentum gained from your sustainable Christmas to make some lasting changes to your lifestyle. According to a study by the University of Oxford, an average person can cut their annual carbon footprint by a huge 35%, simply by halving their daily meat consumption. It’s small changes like this that add up to make a huge difference. What will you do?

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The Green Recovery – Greenpeace Manifesto

The Green Recovery: Greenpeace Manifesto

​In June 2019 the UK Government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050. This was a hugely important step for our country, signalling that legislations were finally being put in place to combat the climate crisis.

Not long after this, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the resulting worldwide lockdown caused a reduction in global emissions by 8%. Whilst a step in the right direction this is not enough: this decline would need to continue by a further 7.5% every year in order to meet the UK Government’s target of reaching Carbon Zero by 2050. Pre-lockdown, more than four-fifths of the world’s largest companies were unlikely to meet the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 ⁰C.

‘Nations will begin to emerge from lockdown and look to fire up their economies once again. When that happens, it will be the duty of every responsible government to… rebuild in a way that will stand the test of time. That means investing in industries and infrastructure that can turn the tide on climate change. And it means doing all we can to boost resilience by shaping economies that can withstand everything nature throws at us.’    

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister April 2020

Following the PM’s comment, Greenpeace this week released a manifesto entitled ‘A Green Recovery: How We Get There’; which calls for transformative recovery packages, significant funding and radical policy changes across a range of priority areas – clean transport, green buildings, smart power, nature and a circular economy. The report also calls for all UK-regulated financial institutions to have a transition plan in place by the end of 2021 to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, extending across firms’ global practices.

A few key points highlighted in the Manifesto:

Clean Transport:

  • Speed up the transition to electric vehicles along with charging infrastructure
  • Expand, electrify and increase the affordability of public transport, to enhance connections outside of the South East, increase access to employment opportunities and ease congestion
  • Fundamentally redesign urban transport to prioritise walking and cycling, improving public health and delivering clean air

Green Buildings:

  • Kick-start a nationwide home and public sector energy efficiency programme
  • Require all new buildings to support a net zero emissions future, requiring the performance of all new buildings to be equivalent to Passivhaus standard by 2023. This would include compulsory installation of solar panels and all new buildings reaching net-zero energy for all uses by 2030
  • Establish and sufficiently fund a new Warm Homes Agency to provide market confidence and encourage private investment

Smart Power:

  • Make offshore wind the backbone of the UK’s energy system
  • Support a thriving onshore wind and solar sector to reignite domestic supply chains and increase local access to clean, affordable power
  • Upgrade the electricity grid to ensure a smart and flexible energy system

Nature and Circular economy:

  • Invest at least £2.5 billion per year on nature enhancement, flood and coastal resilience and marine protection along with support of sustainable agricultural livelihoods.
  • Establish world-leading environmental legislation, enshrining ambitious and legally binding short and long-term targets across a comprehensive range of environmental areas
  • Get the UK on track to a zero-waste economy, supporting innovation, jobs and sustainable waste infrastructure (recycling, reuse and repair). The Environment Bill should set binding waste minimisation targets, including halving the use of single-use plastics by 2025 and rapidly implementing a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers of all materials and sizes, and ensuring that plastic and other material producers pay the full costs of managing materials after use

Whilst these are all still suggestions at this stage, it is a positive reflection on the current mood of the country with regard to recovering in a sustainable way. Hundreds of new initiatives are popping up all over the country, making it easier than ever to reconsider your firm’s environmental impact on a wider scale – from energy usage to business trips and events (hey!).

The choices our government makes now will define the shape of our society and economy for the next decade, and whether or not we succeed in the fight against the climate emergency. If we fail to get this right, we may never get another chance. Now is the time for a green recovery and for that we need action, not words.’

– John Sauven, Executive Director Greenpeace UK

To read the full Greenpeace manifesto, click here.

If you want to chat to us about making your company more sustainable or have an event or business trip coming up that you would like advice on, get in touch. We would love to hear from you!

Stay safe, and we’ll see you post-lockdown.

MFK