Your guide to a ‘green’ Christmas in 2020

Sarah Burke

Whilst we can all agree that we need Christmas cheer now more than ever, it’s not the most environmentally friendly period.

According to Retail Ireland, Irish consumers spend around €4.65 billion over the Christmas period – an average of €2,700 for every household in the country.

Taking our consumption down a notch, thinking with your eco-hat on and shopping locally will not make your Christmas any less glamorous, but it does have the added bonus of a lower carbon footprint. Here is your guide to a more sustainable yet very merry Christmas.

Making gift wrapping, cards and crackers eco-friendly

According to Repak, Ireland will generate 75,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas. It’s time to think smart people.

Ask yourself: Does this really need to be wrapped? If it does, consider reusing gift bags, boxes, tissue paper and ribbon from previous gifts. If you don’t have any materials saved from last year remember to put some aside this year.

Get creative – try using pieces of fabric, brown paper, maps, magazines, comics or newspaper as wrapping. Instead of a disposable gift bag, try putting your gift into a tote bag, which saves on paper waste and also serves as another gift.

This year is the year you should consider ditching Christmas crackers. The reality is they’re a cocktail of bad environmental practices – a disposable mixture of non recyclable foil, cardboard, banger strips and plastic gifts that we all throw away instantly.

But if you can’t bear the thought of doing away with your beloved crackers, there may be a solution – reusable crackers. They can be made of natural materials and allow for your own personalized toys inside. If you don’t want to be accused of making 2020 even worse, give them a try.

Billions of Christmas cards are sent out every year resulting in a lot of waste. E-Cards (those sent on social media or email) are a popular alternative to reduce overwhelming paper waste. If you must indulge in a handwritten card, however, consider purchasing one made from recycled materials.

Bulk buying and food waste but make it eco-friendly

According to the Irish Waste Management Association, Irish residents generate 20 per cent more household waste during the Christmas period and food waste is a major contributor.

It’s hard not to get carried away with grocery shopping for Christmas, but make a list and check it twice before going shopping and only buy what is necessary. Buy locally this Christmas, not only because small businesses need your help this year, but because it minimises your carbon footprint. Try, where possible, to reduce your meat consumption. Food is the single most important, everyday way people can reduce their own environmental impact.

Buy gifts locally this Christmas. Christmas shopping can be an extremely stressful task and more people this year will be shopping online. If you can try visiting local retailers for gift ideas, you may even surprise yourself with the unique and wonderful hidden gems you find.

Sarah Burke 

Image Credit: Nathan Lemon on Unsplash