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Have yourself a merry little (sustainable) Christmas: Top tips & eco-friendly gifts

Updated: Nov 17

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year - but sadly, it’s also one of the most wasteful. Across the UK, we see millions of Christmas trees, and tonnes of food and packaging waste end up in landfill unnecessarily.


Fortunately, there are so many (easy) ways to enjoy a much more sustainable Christmas, without giving up the festive magic. From zero waste Christmas decorations, to sustainable gift ideas including upcycled fashion & beauty, we’ve compiled a list of eco-friendly finds and top tips to help reduce your environmental impact this festive season. So, whether or not you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you can start planning for a greener one!

We’ll continue to update this post to bring you more eco-friendly tips & gifting suggestions from our Full Circle community, so check back for updates

Reducing the environmental impact of your Christmas tree is just one way to have a more sustainable Christmas this year.


The topic of real vs. artificial trees has been widely debated. Looking at carbon footprint in particular, a 2-metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint around 40kg CO2e; more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill, and more than ten times that of real trees that are burnt, according to the Carbon Trust (1).


The Social Association has put together a useful article which includes insights from Kevin Jones - their Head of Forestry - including why a real Christmas tree is the best way to go.


If you are buying a real Christmas tree this year, here are 3 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Shop local. In addition to supporting the local economy, this will help reduce your tree's carbon footprint. To find out about growers in your area, visit British Christmas Tree Growers Association.

  2. Look out for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal, which guarantees your tree has been grown to set environmental and social standards.

  3. Recycle your tree (if it can't be replanted). This is especially important, since millions of trees end up in landfill every year. Find out about tree recycling schemes in your area at recyclenow.com


Rent a Christmas tree


You can even go one step further and consider renting a real Christmas tree from a British farm. Love A Christmas Tree are a Leicestershire-based company, offering natural container-grown Christmas trees as an environmental alternative to traditional cut or artificial trees. This family-run company spends all year growing and nurturing the trees and can deliver them straight to your door. Once January comes around, they will collect your tree and replant it, helping to extend its lifecycle and divert it from landfill.



Last Christmas (2019), Margate-based wellness brand Haeckels launched a new initiative which encouraged people to donate their Christmas trees once used, which Haeckels then upcycled into unique candles to scent your home for spring. We’re yet to see whether Haeckels will launch this initiative again for 2020, but we’ll update this post when we know more.

Christmas gift wrapping: The eco way

Consumers in the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year(2). Unfortunately, many types of commercial wrapping paper are completely unsuitable for recycling because they're often laminated with plastic, foil, glitter, or other non-paper materials. Wrapping paper is also usually covered in non-recyclable sticky tape, which can disrupt the recycling process.


Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly wrapping paper options available on the market that don’t cost the earth, and actually give something back...

1 Tree Cards

Have you ever heard of tree-planting wrapping paper? When you buy a card or sheet of wrapping paper from 1 Tree Cards, you're also paying for 1 tree to be planted through planting projects in either Haiti, Madagascar, Nepal, Mozambique or Indonesia. This Christmas wrapping paper bundle contains 10 sheets of 100% recycled wrapping paper and 10 flower seed gift tags, which means that when you purchase this bundle, 10 trees will be planted in an area with mass deforestation.


Re-Wrapped

Designed and produced in the UK, Re-Wrapped specialises in top quality wrapping paper made solely from 100% recycled unbleached paper and vegetable inks.


Or, you can cut the wrap completely by opting for reusable fabric gift wrap or cotton gift bags such as these festive designs from Tabitha Eve. They're washable, reusable, and will save you hours of wrapping time (bonus!)


Switching up your Christmas card game is another great way to reduce your environmental impact; especially since it’s estimated that 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bin after December 25th(3), when they could have been recycled. Recycling aside, here are some options for greener greetings...

Eco-friendly Christmas cards that support British bees & reforestation projects

Ruby & Bo offer biodegradable, plantable Christmas cards that give back to the environment by supporting British bees. Their unique paper contains 24 varieties of native British wildflowers; the seeds used are non-invasive and the varieties have been exclusively mixed to support bees and other pollinators. In addition to carrying the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Plants for Pollinators’ badge on all of their plantable products, the company is 100% carbon positive, reinvesting a portion of their profits in environmental schemes, such as tree planting. With the help of Ecologi and the Eden Reforestation Project, they have planted over 4,500 trees so far this year.


Shop the full collection here.


Christmas cards that support support Britain’s woodlands

By purchasing your cards from The Woodland Trust Shop, you will directly support the planting and protection of woodlands across Britain. All cards are FSC approved, fully recyclable and plastic free.


Send e-cards to help support charities in need

DontSendMeACard turns the cost of cards into donations for charities that rely on giving.


Looking to spruce up your home with some new Christmas decorations? Go plastic free and deck your halls (and tree) with repurposed, reusable and zero waste accessories.


Recycled / Upcycled Christmas Decorations


Eco-Friendly Crackers & Fillings


Home Fragrance




If you're looking for ways to shop locally and consciously this Christmas, take a look at The Plastic Free Shop or Wearth London for gift ideas and inspiration.


For premium sustainable fashion, check out Public Fibre - a London-based fashion collective, curating a selection of sustainable, ethical and conscious fashion and wellbeing brands. Plus, Public Fibre will plant 10 trees for every order made through their online shop.


Charlie Feist also fuses sustainability and style with their premium backpacks, crossbody bags and duffel bags. You’d never know that they were made from recycled post-consumer-waste plastic bottles...


And finally, this wouldn’t be a Full Circle blog if we didn’t mention upcycling! We’ve collated a number of consciously made upcycled gifts for the gym (or gin) buff, beauty addict and upcycling enthusiast in your life.


Upcycled drinks & recycled glassware (UK)


If you know a gin lover (or perhaps fancy you treating yourself to some pre-Christmas tipple!), then check out HYKE - an award-winning gin made from surplus table grapes.


Each year, fruit supplier Richard Hochfeld Ltd loses the equivalent of 1.4 million punnets of table grapes in the packing process. In a combined effort to tackle food waste, the company linked up with West Sussex distiller Foxhole Spirits to upcycle these surplus grapes into premium gin.


Plus, every element of the bottle is made from recyclable material.

"HYKE's one-of-a-kind flavour is made using a unique botanical blend of grape spirit, juniper, myrrh, nigella seed, rooibos, cumin, bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, coriander, angelica root, angelic seed, orris root, licorice root, aniseed, and lemon zest." - Foxhole Spirits

Pair it with recycled glasses from Nkuku for the ultimate eco-luxe gift. You can browse the full collection here.


Upcycled fashion & accessories (UK)


Conscious beauty (featuring upcycled ingredients) (UK)



Other zero waste beauty finds (UK)





We’ll continue to update this post to bring you more eco-friendly tips & gifting suggestions from our Full Circle community, so check back for updates

Full Circle is not affiliated with, or endorsed by any of the brands featured within this article.


References:

1. Carbon Trust, 2013, accessed 13th November 2020 <https://www.carbontrust.com/news-and-events/news/carbon-trust-christmas-tree-disposal-advice>

2. GWP Group, 2020, accessed 13th November 2020 <https://www.gwp.co.uk/guides/christmas-packaging-facts/>

3. Wayst, 2019, accessed 13th November 2020 <https://blog.wayst.co.uk/articles/christmas-waste-statistics/>

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