News and Analysis | Written by Rowan Harding, 12 December 2023

Dreaming of a green Christmas? Our 10 tips…

The Christmas period has a significant environmental footprint, but here at Path, we’re all very keen for a greener Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth. So, we’ve gathered some eco-friendly Christmas tips to help you to be more sustainable this festive season.

1. Gift-giving with a green conscience

With the cost-of-living still affecting budgets, many people are reducing the presents they buy this year. We often feel obligated to buy people gifts at Christmas. Have a chat with friends and family in advance and agree on a strategy together – chances are, they will be relieved not to have waste money on unnecessary gifts, too.

One of the most important things you can do is to make memories with those you love, so perhaps a shared experience, which can take you into your local nature spot to enjoy the views, or supports a local small charity or business, or doing something at home with a ‘promise’ voucher, with a pledge such as cooking a meal, babysitting, afternoon tea. This is much more thoughtful and can mean much more to someone than a box of chocolates or a candle!

If you are buying gifts, think: less but better. Put the time into picking a quality item that will last a long time. Consider handmade, fair trade and second-hand gifts, or making a charity donation to a cause that means something to the recipient.

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2. Christmas Cards

Billions of Christmas cards are sent every year – you could completely stop sending any, but a halfway house is to send e-cards.  If you feel you need to send a card, choose ones with no glitter or plastic, and plenty of charities have their own range, meaning a small amount of the profits supports the charity. If you receive cards you can let people know you are quite happy not to receive them in future years and re-use (as gift labels) or recycle as many as you can.

3. Wrapping it up

Avoid shiny plastic wrapping paper and instead go for reusable materials such as fabric cloth or gift bags made from scrap material, recycled paper or even old newspaper or magazines.

Instead of using plastic ribbons to decorate your gifts, try alternative trimmings from nature, foraged from your garden or a local park – holly leaves, pinecones, sprigs, or dried leaves can work really well. You could even raid the kitchen cupboard and use sprigs of rosemary or cinnamon sticks!

If you do receive plastic gift bags or wrapping from others, be sure to save and reuse it to cut down on waste.

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4. Branch out with your tree

Between six and eight million real Christmas trees head to landfill in the UK ever year. A good alternative is to source a locally grown tree, then plant it in between seasons and use it again year-after-year. Renting a tree is an increasingly popular choice too; where trees can be re-planted and cared for by the supplier, ready to use again next year.

If you’ve decided that you’d prefer an artificial tree, pick one up second hand rather than buying brand new. Make sure to invest in one that will last for years to come, not a cheap one you’ll have to quickly replace.

5. Spruce up your decorations

Avoid glitter and plastic and instead opt for felt or wooden ornaments that can be reused year after year. Look to nature and make your own wreath using foliage from the garden, or upcycle old scarps or ribbon or fabric. If you want lights on the tree, go for energy-efficient LED lights which use less electricity than regular lights that guzzle energy.

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6. Waste, not

Be realistic about how much food you need, then make sure leftovers are used up (and  instead of clingfilm, use Tupperware, foil and wax cloth covers to keep leftovers fresh). Stick to seasonal produce and if possible, go plant-based and choose tofu over turkey!

7. Shop local

For all of the above, think about where you are shopping. Not only will you be supporting the local economy but you will be cutting your carbon footprint, too. If you really need to order online, consider sites like Bookshop.org, which allows you to buy books from local bookshops, for example, while many independent retailers use services such as EtsyLove Our Shops UK and Depop to sell online too.

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8. Sustainable drink

If you are drinking, use up what you have in your cupboard, source from local brewers and vineyards. Buy from producers who are trying to make drinks more sustainable, consider a certified B Corporation business, and if you can drink seasonally, so for example avoiding citrus, but apple based drinks are perfect for the winter!

9. Give the gift of time

Many local organisations such as foodbanks and homeless centres welcome a helping hand during the festive season. It’s a great way to connect with your local community and help those who might be struggling this year.

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10. Get your finances in order (and get in touch)

Finally, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t encourage you to think about your finances! Take the time to think about your carbon footprint, spending habits and the longer-term impact of your savings and investments, beyond the Christmas season. Review your portfolio, think about where your money currently is and whether it could be working harder for the planet.

Christmas should be a joyful time, but is often fraught with money worries, debt and stress. Reconnecting with nature, wrapping up and getting outside and spending your time with loved ones is a far better way to spend Christmas than spending lots of money – better for you, your wallet, your loved ones and the planet all at once!

RISK WARNING:
As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Path Financial are leading ethical financial advisers based in the UK.

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