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Top Tips For A Sustainable Christmas

The season of goodwill is the perfect time to be part of the movement towards a more sustainable future. So, if you’re dreaming of a green Christmas, check out our top tips below and help bring our world back to life.


1. Quality not quantity: Around half of UK adults say they have received gifts they don't want at Christmas1. When buying gifts think less but better, putting the time into picking a quality item that will last a long time. This reduces the chances of gifts going to waste and can be better for your wallet! 

2. Gift an experience: Gifting an experience for your loved ones will reduce demand for physical resources. Bring people together by gifting your time or a pre-bought experience. There are lots of options to choose from that will reduce your Christmas footprint. You could buy tickets to shows, concerts or events. Gift a homemade coupon book. Make a restaurant reservation or give a gift card. Why not plan a day out to a National Trust or Wildlife Trust location, or even make a homemade meal. It also means Christmas comes twice for the receiver, when they get to go on the experience!

3. Think about materials: Look at the materials gifts are made from and keep sustainability in mind. Ensure wood and paper gifts are made from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials. Avoid single-use plastic items that can’t be recycled and look for things like Fairtrade or Organic-certified food and clothing. Buying second-hand items saves on resources needed to make new products. Vintage clothes and home furnishings, and refurbished technology can make great sustainable gifts.


Elephant and panda plush toys in a Christmas tree


4. Remove packaging: Reduce waste even further by buying gifts with little or no packaging. Sometimes shopping local can help with this, especially if you have a local refill shop. If you must use packaging, use recycled, or recyclable, materials.  Avoid plastic where possible, and don’t forget your reusable bags to carry all your shopping home! If you’re more inclined to shop online, the WWF-UK shop has gifts that won’t cost the earth.

5. Test your wrapping skills: Look for cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper. Avoid plastic ribbon and tape, or foil-backed and glittery wrapping paper. Choose cards that you can recycle (this means no foil or glitter!). Check out some tape-free wrapping techniques online such as furoshiki. This is a traditional Japanese method of using cloth to wrap and transport gifts. It makes for beautiful, unique, and reusable packaging. 

6. Give a gift of hope this year: If you’re struggling for a gift idea - why not support WWF’s work by choosing an animal adoption or one of our memberships? These are perfect gifts for nature and wildlife-lovers wanting to help the environment. From Animal Adoptions to our range of Memberships, there is a gift for environmentalists of any age. Give a loved one a gift from WWF, and together we can bring our world back to life.  

A mixture of Christmas cookies decorated with simple white icing


7. Cut your food waste: Food production is the biggest cause of tropical deforestation. Try to cut any waste by planning ahead - be realistic about how much food you need and use up leftovers. Instead of clingfilm, use Tupperware, foil and wax cloth covers to keep leftovers nice and fresh!

8. Eat More Plants: Poultry is in the top 10 most wasted foods in the UK and 100,000 tonnes of it ends up in the bin every year2. Eating more plant-based meals is good for you and the planet. The livestock industry generates 14.5%3 of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. It requires huge amounts of space, water and feed. Instead, you could try a meat alternative. 


Aerial photograph of a Root vegetable Christmas pie


9. Know your logos: When shopping for food, look for UK seasonal produce to reduce food miles. Search for sustainability certifications such as RSPO-certified palm oil and MSC-certified seafood. To help you, the Impact Score app can show you sustainable products in UK supermarkets.

10. Eat seasonally: Make your shopping basket more sustainable by buying seasonal products, locally produced where possible. Doing so reduces the energy spent growing foods out of season or flying food to the UK. Support UK farmers by eating with the seasons.

Use this handy guide to see what fruits and vegetables are in season every week of the year.

Image of dried citrus peel as a Christmas decoration


11. Table Manners: Many Christmas crackers are not recyclable, and the toys inside are often made of plastic. Instead, look out for FSC-certified crackers. Reusable DIY crackers are another great option. Fill them yourself with sustainable options (like chocolates) and personalised festive favours. 

Avoid single-use tablecloths and napkins. Instead, use material versions which have a longer lifecycle than their paper equivalents as you can wash and keep them. Cranberry sauce stains? No problem! Washing on a quick wash setting at lower temperatures will help to reduce your environmental footprint.

12. Think about your lights: Use LED lights on your Christmas tree, they use less energy, last longer and look just as good! Also, switch off your lights at night - it's safer and won’t cost the earth.


13. Make your own decorations: Save yourself some money by upcycling old decorations. Or make your own using spare material around the house, like turning old paper into paperchains. We sell DIY Christmas decorations in our shop. They make a great tree ornament and/or gift! They’re made from felt derived from recycled plastic bottles and the thread comes from plants.

14. Don’t forget the tree! If buying a plastic Christmas tree, make sure that you’re going to reuse it for at least 10 years. Otherwise, it would have been better to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest. If buying a real tree, make sure it’s FSC-certified. Be clear on how to dispose of your tree once the season is over. If it is potted, think about replanting it. Or get it recycled and turned into wood chips. Check your local council website for their sustainable collection services. Purchasing a potted tree is a good solution as you can reuse it each year! Why not go a step further and rent a Christmas tree? This is where you care for a tree over the festive period and return it to be replanted for use again the next year.

Out and about

15. Dressing for the party season: This year, choose the sustainable option and try to use clothing that you already own! If you can’t find anything to wear, ask your friends or family. Or try looking around second-hand shops or using second-hand apps, for your new Christmas party outfit.

16. Reconnect to nature: The festive season is all about spending time with friends and family. Try making one of your festive activities a walk around your local park or nature reserve. Winter is a great time to spot all sorts of over-wintering birds. Download the Seek app, which lets you identify and discover more about local species. It also helps scientists to track global biodiversity!

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