Top tips for a greener (and less stressful) Christmas

Article by Alana Sinclair

Despite how things seem on the surface, I’m not anti-Christmas. Sure, I actively avoid the Christmas isle at the supermarket and avert my eyes from the ads, but it’s not because I harbour any ill will towards the holiday. 

There are all sorts of Christmas traditions I enjoy. I love making my great-grandmother’s Christmas pudding recipe. I look forward to off tune family Christmas carols and a good Christmas day board game. I like decorating the house too.

No, what sends me into despair is how the quiet charm of Christmas has turned into a process of making lists of who we need to buy gifts for, gathering lists of what people actually want, fighting the crowds to find gifts and buying wrapping paper which will just get thrown away. 

It’s social pressure. Gift giving is just the done thing. Only it creates an environmental pressure too. We already have a lot of ‘stuff’ in our lives without Christmas gifts. In fact our stuff accounts for a whopping 40% of the average UK carbon footprint, more than travel or heating the home.

When given the opportunity to open up at our events we find many people have similar worries. It can be tough trying to enjoy the festivities without it costing the earth. So this Christmas to help out we’ve created a 5 step guide to greener gifting. Our present to you.

  1. Give with care

Make sure the gifts you give are durable and repairable. Check out for some good suggestions.

  1. Less is more

Talk to your family about gift giving. Maybe they’d like to cut down too. Perhaps you could start a secret santa so you’re each only buying one gift.

  1. Not a thing

Experiences often have a lower environmental impact. Give photography lessons for the artistically inclined, or take the DIY approach and create some vouchers for breakfast in bed.

  1. Access over ownership

Why own the drill when all you want is the hole? Memberships make good gifts. Consider a MakeSpace membership for family members into DIY, or a music streaming service for music lovers.

  1. Go reusable

Furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping cloths) are beautiful, practical and can be used time and again. Try making your own using some second hand fabric.



A version of this blog post first appeared in the Cambridge Independent on the 15th November 2017.