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Christmas is a special time of year, but the pressure to spend money is everywhere. Over-consumption adds to the climate crisis because the more we buy, the more resources are extracted and climate emissions generated.

But you don’t have to buy into the hype to make sure you have a special Christmas! Instead of having a consumption-heavy holiday, you can have a creative, personal and less expensive one instead.

Image: Lorna Watt

Here are some suggestions for how to make your festive season better for the planet.

  1. Buy less. Secret Santa is a fun way to make sure everyone in a group ends up with one personal gift, rather than lots of small things that no one asked for.
  2. Buy second hard or make your own. A thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be an expensive one. It’s ok to regift, buy second hand or make something yourself. 
  3. Choose your wrapping paper wisely. Any paper with glitter or foil can’t be recycled, so instead opt for plain brown paper, old newspaper or decorate your own. Get creative with some festive drawings. And when you are unwrapping presents make sure to keep back undamaged paper for next year.
  4. Make some of your own decorations. Fairy lights are not the only way to make your home look festive; make paper snowflakes and chains, bake salt dough into christmas tree ornaments or scavenge for pine cones and green foliage. Check out some of the beautiful paper decorations on Pinterest for ideas.
  5. Limit your cards. Only send a Christmas card to people who you’ll want to write a personal message to inside.
  6. Rent a Christmas tree from a Scottish farm rather than buy it. Once Christmas is over, the tree is returned to the farm and replanted.
  7. Rent your party outfit. You don’t need to spend lots of money on an outfit you’ll only wear once or twice. Instead check out the websites that rent clothes, there are options for a couple of days for a particular event, or a whole month so you can wear your chosen attire across the festive season.
  8. Plan ahead for meals. Research shows food waste increases at this time of year. Minimise your food waste by planning ahead. Portion planning apps can be useful if you are expecting guests. Don’t forget to make a bit of space in your freezer so you can keep any leftovers.

As individuals, changing our buying habits and rejecting corporate greenwash is an important way to be part of the shift that we need towards more sustainable consumption. 

Christmas is about connecting with others, not boosting business sales. This year, let’s take back Christmas for people and the planet.