Are you excited for Christmas? I definitely am, and so are the rest of the team at Spruce. You can’t beat eating lots of food, listening to Christmas songs and spending time with loved ones.
I have always wanted to make my Christmas’ as sustainable as possible. When I started out on my eco journey, I was always a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information out there about excessive consumption and waste around Christmas. And on top of that, there’s also the worry about how much Christmas costs! But I did some research and I found small and manageable changes that I could make, to ensure that Christmas at my house was sustainable and budget-friendly.
I and the team at Spruce have curated a list of top tips for having a sustainable and affordable Christmas:
1. Swap to sustainable wrapping paper alternatives
Did you know that a lot of wrapping paper, tissue paper, bags and tape that we use at Christmas isn’t compostable or recyclable? Even though it's called wrapping PAPER, it is not usually eco-friendly or natural. The Guardian said in an article this year that there are as many as 227,000 miles of wrapping paper that ends up in UK rubbish bins each Christmas. That statistic is a shock, isn’t it?
Before I even think about new materials to wrap presents with, I think about what I saved from last Christmas and what other bits and pieces I have lying around in my house that I can use. I like to reuse Christmas bags, wrapping paper, use glass or aluminium containers that I have that I’m not using or some cardboard boxes.
However, it is always a plus if you can use compostable materials. Some sustainable wrapping paper alternatives and materials that I use are;
Compostable wrapping paper
Leaves and herbs for decorating boxes (you could even forage some spruce)
Compostable paper tape or I have tried no tape wrapping
Natural twine made from fibres such as hemp or organic cotton
Compostable paper brown bags
Loo roll tubes
Tip: Look out for plant materials such as cornstarch, mushroom root and seaweed!
2. Make dried orange garlands
You may have seen people on Instagram and TikTok making orange and berry garlands. If you have, then you know how pretty they look. But let me tell you, they smell incredible too. What an amazing way to make your house smell nice without having to burn unnecessary chemicals in your home.
They are easy to make, simply slice your oranges thinly and bake at 110 for one and a half hours. Keep the garlands indoors as they will last longer there, and you won’t be sad about them rotting before Christmas. (I may have made this mistake once, oops).
3. Make pine cone garlands
I feel like a child again when I run around the park near my house picking up pine cones. I read somewhere that people use chlorine bleach on their pine cones to preserve them, but you really don’t need to do that. A great way to make sure that pine cones are sap and bug-free for Christmas is to bake them at 225 for 30 minutes and you’re good to go!
4. Make salt dough decorations
A great idea for a Christmas party is to make homemade decorations with one another, your guests can take them home as well! All you need is salt dough, plain flour, a rolling pin, biscuit cutters and twine. You can roll fresh herbs, flowers and leaves into the dough for decoration, instead of using acrylic paints or glitter.
5. Get an environmentally-friendly Christmas tree
When I used to think about buying a real Christmas tree, I thought that the tree would have to die. I was like Phoebe off Friends when she saw the trees going into the wood chipper. However, after doing more research into trees, I found that you could rent a tree or buy one that can then later be replanted. Some positives of renting a tree; you don’t have to worry about the tree dying afterwards, in between Christmas’ these trees can be replanted, you’re supporting a local business if you get one in your area, trees are good for the environment as they remove carbon dioxide from the air and lastly, you will know where your tree was grown and how far it has travelled to you.
6. Switch to eco-friendly Christmas lights
When it comes to Christmas, I don’t think it's advertised enough how the lights you choose to decorate your home, indoors and outdoors, can harm the environment. I highly suggest getting LED lights for your Christmas tree and solar-powered lights for the outdoors. It's also a good idea to get lights that you can set to a timer or try and make sure you can get into a routine of switching them off before you go to bed. Being sustainable doesn’t mean you can’t brighten your house up and make it look like Santa’s Grotto, it’s just about finding eco-friendly Christmas lights instead.
7. Try some vegan recipes for Christmas
My partner and I have been vegan for over three years, and we always enjoy trying new vegan recipes for Christmas. It’s always great to incorporate some vegan food into your Christmas, even if you swap your dairy squirty cream for plant-based squirty cream or cook your roasties in vegan butter instead of dairy butter. We're all about small changes at Spruce HQ. No effort is ever too small.
Eating plant-based foods will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, land use, freshwater use, water pollution and air pollution. I must say my favourite vegan blogger for easy and affordable recipes is Minimalist Baker. She has a whole list of Christmas recipes you can try out such as wellington, Christmas pudding, mince pies, roast potatoes, Christmas wreaths, pie, ‘smoked salmon’ toasts and gingerbread cookies.
8. Opt for natural and eco-friendly candles
As you may already know, myself and the team at Spruce are big on health. Candles do come into this. The chemicals released when paraffin wax candles are burnt have been said to possibly cause cancer, allergies and asthma. That’s not very Christmassy, is it? There’s a solution though. You can opt for natural and eco-friendly candles, as this minimises the risk of indoor air pollution in your home. Our favourites at Spruce are from NEOMand Holistic London.
9. Try eco Christmas cards
You don’t have to spend ages making your own cards to be eco-friendly. You can send E-cards to people via messenger or email. You can make them using different apps if you fancy being creative or just use a template online for ease.
If you still want to give people a physical card, try and make sure you buy ones that are made out of sustainably sourced, compostable paper. Also, avoid any cards that have glitter on them because it's very difficult to recycle and it is not biodegradable. It contains microplastics which can pollute our waters and soil. Rather than posting the cards, you can always give them to the person when you see them.
10. Spruce up your post-party cleaning routine
There is nothing festive about single use plastic and toxic chemicals. Give your cleaning routine a makeover this year with one of our discounted Christmas bundles. Our plastic free refills get conveniently delivered through your letterbox, so you will never run out of cleaning products whilst the shops are closed. Now that would definitely be a Christmas nightmare.
Have you checked out our handy guide on how you to be more sustainable with our plastic-free gift guide this year?
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From Spruce HQ.
Written by Zara Huxley