Dreaming of a green Christmas
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.
Gift-giving with a green conscience
With the cost-of-living 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.
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. Another great gift idea is to make a ‘promise’ voucher, with a pledge such as cooking a meal, babysitting or an afternoon out. This is much more thoughtful and can mean much more to someone than a box of chocolates or a candle!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Etsy, Love Our Shops UK and Depop to sell online too.
Driving home for Christmas?
Driving across the country can create a significant carbon footprint. Of course, time with family is precious, but if you can, try to take fewer journeys but spend longer with your loved ones when you do. If public transport isn’t an option, the RAC suggests car sharing to lower your Christmas mileage and travelling when the roads are quieter too – early in the morning or later at night.
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.
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!
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.