Christmas is a special time of year, but there are also many recent traditions associated with the festive period that make it less sustainable. However, with just a few little tweaks here and there you can make a big difference. Here are a few suggestions:
Even if you normally shop in a supermarket, why not make this Christmas the exception and try sourcing most of your food and drink locally? We have wonderful seasonal farm produce available on our doorstep, that may have only need to travel a few miles from farm to fork (thus saving a vast amount of carbon emissions from long-distance transportation) and also helps contribute towards the local economy.
In-season vegetables include beetroot, cabbage, carrots, winter squash and, of course, the classic Christmas brussels sprout. For the meat-lovers, we have locally reared Dales livestock that is higher welfare and lower carbon than virtually any imported meat. Plus the sheep and cattle grazing away on the upland Dales grass are quietly helping improve biodiversity, by creating habitat for curlews and other wading birds.
Buying locally also applies to gifts – there are countless local craft shops and Christmas craft fairs that can provide lovely gifts that aren’t made from plastic and haven’t travelled halfway across the world.
When wrapping your gifts, think of all of the wrapping paper that gets used once and then thrown away on Christmas day. Consider using alternative ways to send your gifts – perhaps wrap them in newspaper that would otherwise go to recycling (pro tip: use the FT for some pretty pink wrapping!). Or give gifts that don’t require any wrapping at all, like a donation to a local charity.
If you’re feeling creative, try making your own Christmas decorations out of recycled materials, or use natural decorations such as Christmassy looking plants – sprigs of holly with berries looks very smart above picture frames, or fir twigs with fir-cones can make a lovely wreath.
Another great way to feel good about Christmas is to grow your own Christmas tree – keep it in a pot outside most of the year, and just bring it inside for a couple of weeks to celebrate Christmas with you. And feel good that all of that time it’s happily locking away carbon from the atmosphereJ.
Have a very happy (local) Christmas.