Tis’ the season to be jolly, and what a jolly Christmas it will be. With pandemic regulations relaxed in several countries, more Christmas-goers than ever will be shopping for gifts, Christmas trees, and possibly traveling over the holidays this year.
That said, have you ever considered the environmental cost of Christmas? We don’t mean to be Grinches, but, if you think about it, the holiday seasons have some of the highest carbon costs of the year.
The good news is, as long as you know the reasons why Christmas can be damaging to the environment in the first place, it’s easy to have an eco-friendly Christmas. Stick with us to find out how.
So, exactly what is the environmental cost of Christmas?
A study by the University of York suggested that Christmas generates up to 5.5% of the annual carbon footprint of a person living in the UK.
But what exactly is driving the carbon cost up on Christmas? Here are some reasons from the same study:
- Christmas Food: The average person will produce at least 26 kg of CO2 from Christmas alone.
- Christmas Travel: Holiday-goers travel at least 3 billion extra miles each year, pumping out more carbon from cars and planes.
- Christmas Shopping: Spending on Christmas gifts can produce at least 310 kg of CO2 each year per person.
- Christmas Lighting: Extravagant Christmas light setups can produce a staggering 500 kg of additional CO2 per household each year!
Now that you know what contributes to the major cause of Christmas carbon emissions, you may be wondering how to have a more eco-friendly Christmas. Here are some steps you can take to directly reduce your carbon footprint this year.
Although your local businesses may not have as much variety as most online retailers today, supporting your local farms by buying their products is a surefire way to cut your Christmas carbon footprint.
While local farmers and producers can’t compete with big corporations when it comes to prices, buying from them is significantly more sustainable and eco-friendly.
We’re not just talking about food, though: locally sourced clothing made from sustainable fabrics would make for a much better Christmas gift than clothing online.
Remember: the fast fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet today!
Look, we get it. For some of us, Christmas would be incomplete without the traditional Christmas goose, ham, or beef wellington.
When it comes to eco-sustainability, though, the consensus is clear on eating meat: meat consumption increases your overall carbon footprint.
Although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, a vegetarian Christmas could save up to 3 kg of CO2 per person per year. So consider trying vegetarian alternatives for your Christmas dinner centerpiece instead, such as this root vegetable tatin.
If you can’t go without meat entirely, consider a more flexitarian approach; Substituting beef or pork for poultry, which has a lower carbon footprint, or reducing the number of meat dishes on the menu.
Recycling has always been close to environmentalists’ hearts, so why let Christmas change that by buying a ton of wrapping supplies?
You’ll be surprised what you can get away with to give gifts instead of buying expensive wrapping materials. The possibilities are endless, from Amazon boxes, old scarves, or even recycled gift-wrapping paper from an earlier occasion.
Just not that you can’t recycle all gift papers, especially not the ones covered with plastic tape.
If you don’t want to compromise on aesthetics, check out these eco-friendly gift wrapping papers.
Although buying a gift from an online retailer with the click of a button is always the more convenient option; this convenience comes with an added cost of extra carbon consumption.
The alternative? Make your gifts this year instead of buying a gift online or from a store. You don’t have to be a crafting maestro to make your own gift, as these homemade eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas will prove.
Remember: a great Christmas present isn’t necessarily expensive but can be anything of value.
Even if you hand-make your gifts and wrap them sustainably, the unfortunate reality is that billions of dollars each year are spent on unwanted Christmas gifts. This spending results in a huge carbon footprint, which is entirely avoidable.
Our solution? Gift your loved ones a unique Christmas experience instead of a gift. After all, we often bond with our loved ones through different intimate experiences, not material possessions.
So why not try out some of these Christmas activities this year with your loved ones instead of buying them presents?
Unfortunately, just like most Christmas presents, Christmas cards also frequently end up in the trash.
One solution is to give your loved ones Plantable Christmas Cards instead.
These Christmas cards come with instructions that your loved one can easily follow, even if they don’t have a green thumb.
The best part? Even if these cards end up in the trash anyway, not only are they fully biodegradable, but there’s also a chance the seed can still germinate!
We don’t just mean packing less by traveling lighter, but using a more eco-friendly travel option.
Traveling by train instead of by car, for example, can save up to 63 kg of CO2 per person each year.
Even if you must use a car, consider carpooling with your friends or local community members, as ride-sharing can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Sometimes, we tend to go overboard with our holiday decorations; Christmas is no exception.
Instead of going for over-the-top Christmas light displays, try using fewer Christmas lights this year.
Alternatively, you can entirely use a different type of Christmas light; a standard 160-bulb fairy light set can produce only 40 kg of CO2, while LED lights can drop that figure to only 5 kg.
Christmas and the holiday season can often cause more carbon consumption as a result of increased human activity.
That said, it’s possible to reduce that high carbon footprint this Christmas.
Just remember why Christmas is damaging to the environment, and you can come up with your own creative solutions. With these tips in mind, we hope you have a merry, eco-friendly Christmas!