Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The winter months have traditionally been a time of celebratory feasts and gift giving, and for many people across Scotland it is a time to hang out with friends and family, reach out to people you’ve been meaning to contact all year, and take some time off from work to recharge your batteries. But it’s also a time of over consumption, and for many of us means too much food and drink, too many presents, and enough excess packaging to make your recycling bins groan.

We’ve pulled together a few ideas to have a greener, cheaper, and more enjoyable festive season.


Give fewer gifts. People get locked into reciprocal gift cycles, so be brave and break the chains! You may find that your would-be recipient is as relieved as you are. If there are people in your life that you want to give a gift to, make sure that you get something that they either really want or really need.  If they don’t want or need anything offer to give a donation to their favourite charity.

Avoid wrapping paper with glitter on it or foil or plastic coated paper as it can’t be recycled. You can even avoid wrapping paper altogether. Use old newspapers tied with twine, invest in some gift bags that you can reuse year after year, or if you’re very dexterous get creative with some second hand scarves – there’s tons of great videos online showing you how to tie them around different shaped gifts.

Don’t leave unwanted gifts languishing in the back of a cupboard, donate them or re-gift them to someone you know will love them.

The Tree

If you really must have a real tree make sure that its eco-friendly, locally grown and sourced from a sustainable forest.

Think about recycling your Christmas tree with a scheme that turns the trees into road chippings or compost.

You could buy a living tree that you plant out after Christmas – there are even a few places online that you can rent living trees from.

If fake trees are more your style, make sure that you look after  yours as experts have worked out that you need to use your tree for a minimum of ten years to ensure that they have less environmental impact than a real tree.

Always turn your Christmas tree lights off when you’re not in or overnight, and if your lights need replacing make sure to get energy efficient replacements.


Keeps lights and candles to a minimum to reduce waste (and the chance of a festive house fire).

Make your own decorations out of natural products (think holly from the garden, decorated pinecones, or oranges studded with cloves and tied with ribbon) and anything festive the kids can whip up from a loo roll and some coloured paper.

Reuse old decorations. If anyone gets a bit sniffy at your tattered tinsel, describe it as “heirloom” and look haughty.

Buy reusable fabric crackers (or make your own – there are loads of patterns online). They do exist, even though I thought I’d invented them whilst writing this post.

Christmas Cards

There are loads of good e-cards available if you want to send cards without the paper trail.

Recycle old cards or let the kids loose with some paper scraps.

Forget cards and just wish people a Merry Christmas when you see them (hugging is optional).

Food and drink

Food wastage over the festive period is huge, so be kind to the environment, your pocket, and your waistline and opt out of the food-buying frenzy. Think elegant sufficiency instead of Henry the VIII in full feast mode.

Buying locally and in-season ensures your festive food won’t have clocked up more air miles than Santa* by the time it arrives on your plate.

If you’re a meat eater, a locally farmed organic turkey will reduce air miles and ensure the bird had a life that included the freedom to move and be outside.

Defrost your freezer before the festive onslaught – this makes it work more efficiently and leaves more room for you to store your festive leftovers instead of leaving them to spoil in the fridge.

Don’t bother

No explanation required.

*We know, it’s just a very fitting festive metaphor


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