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Tips for a climate-friendly Christmas

Everyone is in love with the idea of a traditional Christmas. Cards show a vision of the season that is all holly berries, robins, snow, and a single Christmas stocking hung above a fireplace – but our modern holiday is often a long way away from this.  

Tempers are frayed and families frazzled because there is just too much of everything: food shopping, gift shopping, presents, debt, and seemingly endless to-do lists. This year, we have more choice in what we can do than we did last year, but could simplicity be a good thing?

Mostardo
Enjoy making edible Christmas gifts like Mostardo pears, an Italian preserve. 

Try creating some new traditions that are climate-friendly instead with these top tips.

Give green gifts 

Try out having a secondhand, homemade, or charity gifts only rule. Do ‘secret Santa’ with a price limit to help reduce spending; have a family chat to agree what will work best for all. If people ask you what you want for Christmas, it’s a great opportunity to stock up on zero waste beauty, home or kitchen kit, or look out for the Wicked Leeks Ethical Christmas Gift Guide for low-impact gift ideas. 

Gift
Switch to natural materials for wrapping paper and green up your gifts.

Have a homemade Christmas

Love a festive jumper? Try out the loveyourclothes.org.uk video tutorial for how to upcycle an old one instead of buying fast fashion. Make a simple DIY stocking (search ‘free Christmas stocking pattern’ online for ideas). Easily sewn by machine or hand, kids love decorating them with felt, pompoms or fabric crayons. Make a mini hamper of goodies to gift. Sloe gin, blackberry brandy or ‘parschnapps’ (see video below) plus truffles are easy makes. Get inventive with gift wrap; use upcycled washed fabric squares for a forest-friendly paper alternative. 

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Enjoy an ethical feast 

Go organic – guaranteed to be free from the harmful pesticides and artificial fertilisers that vastly increase the carbon footprint of food. Buy ‘less and better’ meat for your table, and make veg the star of the show. Use as much of your veg as possible, and get creative with leftovers – Riverford’s Veg Hacks and the Love Food Hate Waste website both have great ideas. 

Feast
Make veg the star of your Christmas feast, or if you eat meat, go organic if you can afford it. 

Take time to connect

Ringfence time to switch off gadgets and do something together – play a board game, tell a Christmas story by candlelight, enjoy marshmallows and hot chocolate round a fire outdoors, or mince pies and a thermos of hot toddy on a walk with friends. Try volunteering – many get huge satisfaction from helping with community Christmas meals. Remember wildlife at midwinter; make a Christmas tree for the birds by decorating a tree or bush growing in your garden or closest outdoor space, with homemade bird cakes. 

This article was originally published in the autumn-winter print edition of Wicked Leeks. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu. 

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The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

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