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Wasteful Traditions That Need To Change

Posted by Melanie Fisher on
Wasteful Traditions That Need To Change



Part of what I LOVE about the Christmas tradition is that familiarity. The process of rediscovering old baubles, our tree topper, the bunting, how badly we packed away the lights from last year...our table decorations. Not much changes and I love it. It’s a powerful anchor to my family and my experience of Christmas.

That’s why, for me, the best thing about a zero waste Christmas is that you can enjoy the things you already have. So if you’re looking for an easy zero waste way to help this year? Just reuse what you have.

The unfortunate thing about tradition though, is that many of them come from a time when waste, and the environment, were not at the forefront of our thinking. Now is a great time to think about how we can modify our habits around these to make them less detrimental. Read on for some easy updates.


If food waste were a country, it would come 3rd in terms of the size of our impact on global warming🔥. If we can solve the food waste problem, we can go a long way to solving climate change. 🙌🏻

What can you do? Lots!

  • buy less than you think you need (and save money)
  • Don’t buy food you don’t actually like
  • reduce meats & dairy
  • buy as much organic food as you can afford
  • don’t over-serve
  • store it properly
  • freeze leftovers
  • compost - food waste in landfill produces methane 😱

“Over a third of all the food we produce gets wasted before it even leaves the farm.” Cut the middle man (read: supermarket) out as much as possible Get your veg from a farm supplier (i.e.@riverford @theorganicpantry) or local market. Or buy wonky ‘saved’ veg from the likes of @oddboxldn..

Go light on the plastic packaging by focusing on real food. Pick out your products from the counter and wrap in beeswax wrap or tupperware, less is more on the day (and leaves room for dessert too).

Then use a food sharing app to share the stuff you won’t use.

How about trying some vegan cheese? The dairy industry is very intensive on land and the climate.

Christmas jumpers

Hands up who loves a good ole Christmas jumper? 👋🏾✋🏽 But, did you know that the fashion industry is the world's second-largest polluter after the oil industry? Time for a fashion makeover! 🙃 

If you know you’re likely to wear it once or twice why buy a brand new one? Support a charity and the environment, and save money at the same time by buying a second hand (ahem, we mean preloved) one.

If you do buy new, try and get it from an eco-conscious brand, one that uses organic cotton and plant-based dyes. Then donate it to charity when you’re ready to let it go.

Wrapping paper

108 million rolls of wrapping paper were sent to landfill last year, we think there’s room for improvement! 🙈 So, we’re delighted that this festive must-have can be Zero Waste. There are many producers of stunning, high-quality, reusable wrapping - take advantage!

If you do go the paper route, use recycled brown paper. Perhaps jazzed up with some eco glitter! And make tags from last year’s cards.

And reuse, or recycle it, of course.

Come and meet Fabrap! The company who makes beautiful reusable textile wrapping for any gift.

The tree

Perhaps the most sacred of the traditions, with a very nuanced environmental impact.

Real tree?

Pros: habitat creation, looks and smells great, produces oxygen and traps carbon, is replaced once chopped down. If chipped or burned properly, it’s carbon footprint is reduced by 80% can be replanted! Keep the roots. 

Cons: pesticide use and water pollution, mono-crop, if disposed of badly (landfill) it will produce methane - more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. A 2-meter tree in landfill can produce 16kgs of the stuff. 😱😱 x 6 million?? 

Fake tree?

Pros: affordable, reusable, buy once, have forever, doesn’t drop needles, easy to store, not a dry-tinder hazard. Reduces pressure on farmed forests. 

Cons: made using oil (plastic) in some cases dangerous chemicals used have been linked to cancer & other nasties, areas surrounding factories can become polluted, disposing of it properly? Highly unlikely (check your local council). You need to use it at least 10-12 times before it’s footprint is negated- 40kg produced CO2 for every two-meter tree.

Alternative tree ideas:

🌱 rescue some wood and make one 

🌱 buy an organic, potted tree with roots and plant it after (careful not to let it warm inside for longer than a week before you replant else you risk transplant shock)

🌱 rent one!

🌱 use lights and pallets to create the illusion of one 

🌱 decorate a tree outside 

🌱 make one from stacked books, felt or recycled paper.

🌱 ask @wood_store_brighton to help you!

Whatever you choose, remember to dispose, plant or store your tree properly to have the most impact.

Whatever tree you get, make sure you decorate it sustainably too - with dried fruit baubles, reusing old ones (or buying second hand), or turning it into a family event and making your own!

We hope this has given you a few ideas and shown how it’s not that hard to update tradition and make this Christmas your greenest yet.

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