Have yourself a green Christmas: 9 tips for a more eco-friendly festive season

From the crafty to the obvious, here is how to make your holiday season a little greener

Little decisions can make your Christmas festivities much more eco-friendly. Unsplash 
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Christmas is known, often rightly so, as a season of excess. But that doesn't always have to be the case. Making a few small eco-friendly decisions can make your Christmas season a green one.

Here are nine worth trying this year.

1. Be gift-wrap conscious 

The majority of wrapping papers, gift bags, ribbons, bows and tags are paper or fabric covered in plastic and glitter, which means that, more often than not, they are not recyclable.

Try and seek out options that label themselves as recyclable. These are typically plain brown, parcel wrap-style choices, or reusable fabrics. While they may not scream Christmas the way a package decorated with sparkling reindeer does, it won't leave a trail of glitter in your home, which you'd be hoovering up until Valentine's Day.

Plus, they can easily be dressed up with reusable ribbons, string, sprigs of plants or with a bauble which can be repurposed on your tree next year.

2. Recycle your tree 

While faux Christmas trees can be reused year after year, many choose to celebrate with a real fir, so consider recycling it when the time comes to take it down in January.

UAE residents can take advantage of hardware store Ace's recycling programme, Tree-Cycle. Drop your used Christmas trees at select Ace outlets between Saturday to Saturday, January 2 to 16, and they will be converted into a bag of compost for customers, free of charge. The only condition is that trees have to arrive totally undecorated.

When dropping a tree off, customers will receive a voucher that gives them a 10 per cent discount on garden and outdoor products.

For more information, visit aceuae.com/en-AE/real-xmas-trees

3. Be a selective buyer 

"What would you like for Christmas this year?" "Oh, I don't need anything." It's a conversation many will have heard or participated in – and often leads to the buying of unnecessary stuff.

As much as we all want to hand out gifts on Christmas Day, it's not always the most environmentally friendly of moves. But that doesn't mean you're turning into an eco-Scrooge. Seek out active gifts, vouchers, foodie buys you know they'll devour or subscription services that will send loved ones a little treat each month.

4. And don't over food shop

The food waste at Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry must have been through the roof. Warner Bros 
The food waste at Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry must have been through the roof. Warner Bros 

Food waste is a global problem and one that is often avoidable in domestic environments. As much as we all like to imagine a scene akin to the Hogwarts Great Feast, unless you're feeding the masses come December 25, you don't need a 7kg to 10kg turkey, join of meat, fish, all the trimmings, three desserts and a cheese board for 12.

As obvious as it sounds, planning is key. Channel Santa and make a list, checking it twice, with all of the ingredients you'll need and the required weights. It may take a little longer in the planning stages, but it will make your trip around the supermarket much more efficient.

5. Use your leftovers 

Step away from the bin! If you do over shop, watch any cookery show in December, which will give you endless tips for recipes that use up every last piece of meat, veg and cheese. A personal favourite is Gizzi Erskine's leftovers pie, which you'll find the recipe for here:

6. Shop local

At this stage, we all know that shopping locally feels more important than ever in 2020, as small businesses have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as making a huge difference to a small business owner, it is also often a more green decision. Particularly in the case of hand-crafted gifts, they will typically have a lower carbon footprint than packages shipped in from international online stores.

7. Make your gifts 

If you have the time and are feeling crafty, gifting a batch of something you have baked or made, such as a jar of chutney or relish, is a sweet way to show someone you care.

8. Consider re-gifting 

This feels like a Christmas taboo, but rather than holding on to a candle that your mother-in-law gifted you but isn't quite to your taste, pass it on to a friend who will love it. The original gifter and recipient need be none the wiser, and you've saved yourself an potentially unnecessary buy.

9. Rewear your Christmas jumper 

Just this week, we have recommended where to buy Christmas jumpers in the UAE. But if you don't need to, don't! If you own one, it's likely that you wore it for a mere handful of days last year, so it will almost certainly still be in like-new condition this December.