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    17 Sustainable Switches You Can Make For A More Eco-Friendly Christmas This Year

    If you're trying to live more sustainably, these tips will make you feel ~merry and bright~.

    Yes, it’s pretty wonderful, but Christmas can also be the most wasteful time of the year! From unwanted gifts to mounds of crumpled wrapping paper, you’d be surprised at how much ends up in the bin, and that's just the tip of the environmentally-unfriendly iceberg.

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    So we've created a list of easy things you can do to make your festivities more eco-friendly without sacrificing any of the joy or your favourite family traditions. AND you might even save money, have fun, and help others out in the process!

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    1. Switch conventional wrapping paper for reusable wrapping fabric.

    FabRapShop / Via Etsy

    Christmas wrapping paper is generally known to be super wasteful, and this method (traditionally done with Japanese Furoshiki – a special fabric used to wrap transported goods) is probably THE best zero-waste wrapping option there is. Simply lift the corners of the fabric around the edges of your present, picnic hamper-style, and tie it in place on its own or with some ribbon. You can even use a printed scarf as a pretty packaging option that the lucky receiver can also use as an extra gift! There are some gorgeous wrapping fabric designs available nowadays (check out places like Etsy and Oliver Bonas) and if you’re struggling to find fabric big enough to cover your present then you can use old patterned tablecloths and bedsheets. A gingham cloth tied with red ribbon makes an excellent festive wrap, just FYI. 

    2. And if you already have loads or wrapping paper left over from last year that you want to use up first, make sure you recycle it afterwards!

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    That goes for any paper-wrapped presents you receive too! Try not to get the paper dirty (e.g. with food or paint) as this will make it unrecyclable. Also avoid putting it into the recycling bin with any plastic sellotape still stuck on. It’s a good idea to find an alternative recyclable adhesive, or make sure you remove the tape before putting it in the recycling bin.

    3. Opt for a real tree rather than a fake one.

    Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

    While I can see the appeal of a reusable and evergreen tree, once it gets broken or you fancy a different style, plastic trees are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Real trees on the other hand are biodegradable by nature and absolutely gorgeous! Again, you can support local businesses where possible here since tons of Christmas tree markets pop up around this time of year. It also makes a fun day out for the kids (and let’s be honest, yourself).

    4. You can even go fully ~green~ by renting a Christmas tree or growing your own!

    Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

    You can check out companies like London Christmas Tree Rental if you're looking to rent one. Simply collect your pot-grown tree from one of their hubs, make sure you water it every day and place it away from any heat sources (like radiators) to keep it fresh, and once the festive period is over it’ll go back to the owners who take care of it till next Christmas. Or you can buy a smallish potted tree to keep in your own garden and bring it inside come Christmastime, then watch it grow over the years. Both of these options avoid the tree having to be cut down and inevitably wasted!

    5. Instead of your usual disposable Christmas crackers, why not buy or make your own fabric ones that you can then reuse year after year?

    Not on the High Street

    Not only are they more eco-friendly in the long run, they’re also so much fun to use! There are tons of tutorials on how to make your own, and the best bit is you can make them really personal by stitching family members’ initials on their designated cracker and filling them with homemade trinkets and treats. You can also find great pre-made (and customisable) ones in places like Not on the High Street.

    6. Make sure you plan Christmas dinner well ahead of time.

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    Make a shopping list based on the amount of people you know are coming over, and how much they're likely to actually eat. Or if you like to prepare for ‘just-in-case drop-ins’, buy food that can be frozen if it doesn’t end up being used!

    7. You can try swapping the traditional Christmas turkey for a vegan or veggie main dish.

    Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

    Nut roast, vegan wellington, and roasted stuffed cauliflower are all great options! Due to the huge demand for turkeys over the festive period prices are often massively marked up, so not only will your opting for a meat-free alternative put less strain on the poultry market, the ingredients will be way cheaper and easier to find in the supermarket too. And if your family usually expect some kind of meat to be served then you can always go for chicken or other meat alternatives to turkey.

    8. Speaking of veg, you should make the most of the seasonal fruit and vegetables available at this time of year.

    Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

    This includes the usual festive delights like brussel sprouts, pumpkins, winter berries, and chestnuts, but apples, mushrooms, artichokes, and more are also plentiful at this time of year! Home-grown and in-season produce will usually be cheaper to buy and tends to taste way better.

    9. Buy experiences rather than physical gifts.

    Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

    I’m talking afternoon tea packages, spa days, and bungee jump experiences. Not only can they help create amazing memories that last forever, but there’s also absolutely no waste – especially when compared with conventional presents (yes, gift set full of ‘bath stuff’, I’m looking at you). 

    10. Or make your own gifts this year!

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    Things like chutneys and Christmas cookies are cheap, easy, and pretty fun to make. You can make them look more ~fancy~ by putting them in nice jars tied with festive ribbon, and they’ll make great additions to a homemade hamper! For extra zero-waste brownie points, you can add to your hamper with leftover (unused) bits from any multipacks you have laying around, like candles and chocolates – just make sure they’re still in date! 

    11. If you’re not particularly crafty, you can scour around for small businesses to buy your gifts from.

    Valeza Bakolli / Talou / Bookshop org / Via BuzzFeed

    Avoid shopping at the same old large companies and show some love to small and local businesses this year! You’re sure to find some gorgeous gifts AND smaller brands tend to care more about their products being ethically-made and kinder to the environment, so it’s a win-win! Second-hand shops, small boutiques, and even Instagram are great places to find unique pieces that’ll make your giftee feel like you *really* thought about their present this year.

    12. And the same goes for food, booze, decorations, and more!

    Getty Images / Happy's Bakery

    It goes without saying that locally-produced food and drinks will be easier to find and let’s be honest, probably taste a whole lot better! Shop small where you can to help your local high street and save the pennies while you’re at it.

    13. Giving pre-loved gifts is actually a great option if you're after more unique and sustainable pieces!

    Kids O'clock

    Laura Roso Vidrequin, the founder and CEO of Kids O'clock (a brilliant online marketplace where you can find second-hand kids fashion, toys, and more) hails it as one of her top tips for a more eco-friendly Christmas. She states: "I have made a point with my close family to purchase second hand for quite some time. My mum and sister know they are likely to receive an amazing vintage piece from an online reseller or a super cool accessory I've dug out for them. When it comes to my son, I will get his toys from Kids O'clock – I think the pleasure of receiving the gift remains intact if there is some effort put in the presentation of the item, the card and the meaning behind the gift." 

    You can check out the Kids O'clock website right here – it's also a great place to find festive outfits for your little ones, just FYI!

    14. Always include a gift receipt with any presents you buy.

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    This might seem pretty obvious, but it’s surprisingly often forgotten! It’s also a non-awkward way of saying “if you don’t like this gift, I’d rather you exchange it for something you actually will use rather than letting it chill in your attic for 5-10 years”.

    15. You can also make your own decorations.

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    If you need some new decorations this year why not try making them yourself? From baubles to banners, it’ll make a great personalised addition to your decor, plus I'm sure the little ones will be happy to help. Also, have you seen how stylish dried orange slices can look as decor?!

    16. And use a wreath-making kit for a unique (and mostly biodegradable) alternative to a faux one.

    Etsy

    There are LOADS of stunning floral kits you can buy these days and the real flowers and foliage will dry up and break down naturally afterwards.

    17. Finally, make a head-turning natural centrepiece for your dinner table.

    Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

    Try your hand at creating your own floral arrangement complemented by dried fruit, pinecones and twigs (most of which you can collect from the local park) then adorn the table with natural beeswax or soy wax candles for some extra ~pizzazz~. Avoid ‘enhancing’ the components of your decorative pieces with spray paints and glitters and let their natural beauty shine through instead, that way they still be biodegradable once the Big Day is over!

    Now go ahead and enjoy the festive period with an eased ecological conscience!

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    Know any more tips to help create a more eco-friendly Christmas? Feel free to share them in the comments below!