Every year the press gives us those all-important odds of a white Christmas but this year at CES we’re hoping for a Green Christmas. I’m sure by know you all know about our eco-drive this year and our efforts were celebrated with our place as a finalist in the Low Carbon Workspace Category at the Buckinghamshire Business First Awards. We want to keep up the momentum and move forward into the new decade with sustainability as part of our ethos but first (to change up another Christmas classic) ‘it’s the most indulgent time of the year!’ Yes, it’s Christmas which is of course an abundance of food and indulgence. With tempting offers; pre-Christmas deals, festive discounts and black Friday deductions we are urged to spend, spend, spend and it becomes a competition of consumerism. With an average family spend of £800, enough wrapping paper to cover the world 9 times over (disregarding 277,000 miles of it into landfill-now that would get you 90% to the moon!) and 230,000 tonnes of food thrown away, it becomes an incredibly wasteful time of the year.
That Awkward Moment…
So we’ve all had that awkward moment of the unwanted Christmas gift from a distant Aunt, the forced smile, thanking her in the most OTT manner (you’re definitely not wining and Oscar for that acting performance) and knowing that gift is ending up straight in the back of the wardrobe/bin/regifted to a different distant Aunt. £700million is spent on unwanted gifts and this is just one element of the 30% additional waste generated during the festive period, don’t forget the wasted food, drink, decorations, gift-wrap and cards. So where can we begin to make the season a little more sustainable without feeling like you’re Scrooge? CES have switched to e-cards, have you seen yours appear in your inbox yet? An e-card is a great way to prevent the waste of the 1 billion cards that end up in the bin every Christmas. And when it comes to gifts rather than the unwanted and unnecessary gifts, think about purchasing gift cards so people can buy what they want, donating to charity, giving the gift of time through experiences as gifts, repurposing what we already have by giving second-hand gifts, doing a Secret Santa to limit all that spending or get that pinny on and get baking or get creative with a paintbrush.
Feeling Festively Plump
We all joke about the ‘winter layers’ but it’s a fact that at Christmas we consume 80% more food. We can all picture it now, the Christmas Dinner plate splurging off the edges, having seconds and maybe even thirds (come on, it’s Christmas), passing round that purple tin of Quality Streets (and finding your favourites have already gone), stockings full of chocolates, boozing every night of the week and eating a whole advent calendar in one go (of course I’ve never done that!!) Food is the single most important way to reduce your environmental impact so think about freezing those leftovers, inviting friends over to help you polish of the leftovers, composting those veggie peelings or the unwanted brussel sprouts and making plant-based choices (1kg of beef creates 643kg of CO² where as you’d need to consume 300kg of soy protein to have the same environmental impact.)
‘Those Christmas Lights’
To quote a Coldplay Christmas song ‘Those Christmas lights, light up the street.’ Those Christmas lights can also have a huge environmental impact so make sure you use energy efficient lights, turn them off when you’re not in the room or put them on a timer. There are other elements of Christmas sparkle you could avoid too; do you really need a new Christmas jumper every year and how about the new outfit for the Christmas party? The UK spends £3.5million on new clothes for those festive drinks with the team but do you really need a new outfit; how about borrowing or just recycling that shirt that’s lurking in the back of the wardrobe? Then there’s those plastic decorations; avoid those and opt for sustainable wood, cotton or cloth adornments and that goes for the Christmas crackers too; time to dodge those and their plastic filled contents! And then there’s the all-important Christmas Tree; make sure it is grown sustainably, grab a potted tree with the roots still intact so you can plant and reuse next Christmas or if your tree is a one-year wonder then recycle it responsibly.
Not Scrooge, Just Sustainable…
At CES we’ll all be putting a few of these sustainable suggestions into place this Christmas to continue our Attenborough-esque drive to be kinder to our planet and we hope there’s a few ideas that have resonated with you too. Your Christmas can still be filled with ‘tidings of comfort and joy’ but just with a little less plastic, cracking out the 90’s Xmas outfit instead of buying new and we’ll be expecting your e-card any day now!