News & Insights

Read and share Parliament Hill insights and news on the tips, trends, and key developments we’ve identified for benefit management and member satisfaction.

Sustainable Christmas

Like many people, I absolutely adore the festive season – from Christmas markets to exchanging gifts with loved ones, it really is a wonderful time of year. As someone who is trying to lessen their impact on the environment, however, I have felt in recent years that it isn’t the most eco-friendly of holidays. I would like to think that most people are looking to make green changes in their everyday lives, so I have put together a few ideas for how we can have our eco-friendliest Christmas yet!

An essential part of Christmas is the tree. Did you know that you can dispose of your tree in an environmentally friendly way (see here for more information ), or you can buy a potted tree that you can reuse every year! Choosing this second option means you get the added joy of seeing your tree grow year on year. There are lots of places which offer potted trees, for example .

Once your tree is sorted, you need something to put underneath it! However, often you'll unwrap presents on Christmas day and see lots of things that you wouldn't necessarily have bought for yourself which can end up cluttering your home. A way to avoid this is to swap wish lists with family and friends so that you receive gifts you'll truly love and need. Another option to be more environmentally conscious this Christmas is to gift experiences or virtual gift cards instead of physical items. You can also agree with people not to exchange gifts at all – my sister and I have implemented this rule over the past few years.

If you already have your presents bought and you are looking to take an eco-friendly approach to gift wrapping, here are a few options to consider:

  • You can reuse wrapping paper year on year as long as presents don't get opened in too much haste (my mother has done this my whole life)
  • Use wrapping paper that is fully recyclable – this often means it won't be as nice to look at but it is much better for the environment
  • You can take a more creative approach to your wrapping skills by using fabric to wrap presents – there are lots of online stores that you can browse and shop from (for example ), or you can upcycle old textiles you have, such as duvet covers that you no longer use

In the lead up to Christmas I think that it's fair to say that most households purchase advent calendars. Buying a new disposable one every year can be an unnecessary cost and adds extra waste. I would recommend reusable advent calendars, and these come with multiple benefits aside from reducing your waste:

  • You can put whatever you want in the daily slots – so for those who prefer savoury goodies over chocolate this is a great swap.
  • It also allows you to take into consideration dietary needs as certain allergies and intolerances are very hard to avoid in standard supermarket advent calendars.
  • There has been a huge increase in beauty advent calendars too in recent years, so making a budget beauty calendar for a loved one could be a wonderful gift!

If you want some inspiration before purchasing your reusable calendar, you can have a look here:

On the big day itself, no Christmas festivity is complete without the crackers! It's not a hard case to argue, however, that the novelty items in Christmas crackers can lose their charm when they're the same every year. How many fortune telling fish does one household need? In the same vein as the reusable advent calendar, you can now buy reusable crackers which you can fill yourself. There are a number of places you buy these, for example (who also donate a percentage of their profits to environmental causes).

Finally, the part of Christmas that everyone looks forward to is the meal itself. In most households I'm sure that food waste is not an issue, however if you often find yourselves with an abundance of pigs in blankets after the big day, here are some tips for you:

  • Factor in the number of people attending and try to not make extra portions
  • Use seasonal vegetables – luckily the majority of our Christmas staples are hardy veg which happily grow in winter (carrots, potatoes, parsnips etc)
  • Who wants to cook on boxing day? Try to plan ahead so that if you have leftovers you can plan meals incorporating them

Christmas has different meanings and traditions for lots of people, and not everyone will be able to implement environmentally conscious changes. Hopefully the tips above can help you to make small changes this festive season, without changing the core parts of your Christmas routine.

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