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How to Enjoy a Sustainable Christmas This Year

Looking to have a more sustainable Christmas this year? Our Sustainability Team share their recommendations for how to have an eco-friendly festive period.

Sustainable christmas

For those who celebrate, Christmas is a joyful time of year. However, it also has the potential to have a negative effect on our planet.

Firstly, waste is a major problem. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate food waste contribute 8-10% of total man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the Christmas period alone, 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pie are disposed of whilst they are still edible. This results in almost 270,000 tonnes of food waste during the holiday.

It is not only discarded food that is a problem at Christmas. Waste management company BIFFA estimates that we throw away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year at Christmas in the UK, which is enough to wrap around the Earth over eight times. 12,500 tonnes of Christmas decorations are discarded in landfills, including 68,488 miles of Christmas lights, find their way to landfill. Each year, 141,525 tonnes of food packaging after the festive season are also discarded in landfill.


How can we make Christmas 2022 more sustainable?

We spoke to some members of the Sustainability Team at Mer UK – Public Charging, who shared their top tips for a more sustainable Christmas.


Prevent unnecessary waste


Re-use, year after year

‘I do not use wrapping paper anymore. Instead, I bought gift bags that I’m reusing every year. I tend to buy perishable gifts such as food or vouchers as they are less likely to be unused and forgotten. We also use reusable napkins to minimise waste. And, Christmas decorations do not need to change every year. Back home, we have had the same ones  for as long as I remember!’

Stephanie Salguero, Head of Marketing and Sustainability Manager

sustainable christmas

Turn lights off

‘One great sustainability tip to not only help save the planet, but to save yourself some money too, is to only turn your Christmas lights on during the times when you need them. Having the fairy lights twinkling all night or during the day whilst you are out of the house may not be necessary, and uses electricity when everyone but Santa is likely asleep anyway! Instead, invest in a socket timer, which will allow you to select the times of day that electricity is used.”

James Bruce, Bidding & Propositions Coordinator


Reconsider your buying and gifting habits


Think about what you are buying, and how you are buying it

‘Order presents early and do not use 1 day delivery methods where possible. They use a lot more petrol/emissions delivering parcels that quickly in comparison to a more regular, scheduled delivery. When reusable gift bags are not used, make sure to use wrapping paper that does not have lots of glitter/plastics in it, as it means the paper can’t be recycled. Try not to buy small, mainly plastic gifts that will not be used for a long amount of time. These presents may be cheap and you can buy lots of them, but if they are not consistently used then they are a large waste of plastics and delivery emissions. Christmas crackers are mostly non-recyclable and include a lot of single-use plastic waste. Look for more sustainable options at the dinner table.’

Bhavish Ruparelia, Senior Business Analyst


Real tree or artificial tree?

The debate around real Christmas trees and artificial Christmas trees is more complex than you may think. There are several factors to consider when deciding which you are going to buy this year.

sustainable christmas

Eight million trees are cut down for Christmas every year in the UK. It takes up to twelve years to grow a Christmas tree, during which time it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and nitrogen from soil, thus reducing GHGs and maintaining chemical levels by emitting oxygen into the atmosphere. When cut down, however, emissions are gradually released back into the atmosphere. If a 2-metre-tall tree with no roots goes to landfill, its carbon footprint is 16kg CO2e, as it decomposes and produces methane gas. This is also costly: landfilling eight million trees costs around £22 million.

Here are some alternatives when disposing of your tree:

  • Give a potted Christmas tree a new life by replanting it in your garden.
  • Burning, incinerating, or composting the tree can reduce its carbon footprint.
  • If the tree is shredded into chippings, these can be used in parks and woodland.


Make sure your real tree is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

An alternative is to use an artificial tree. 85% are manufactured in China, and the transportation of the trees influences their impact on the environment. And, as they are not recyclable, they will go to landfill when thrown away. To negate the carbon footprint of an artificial tree, you can re-use it year after year. The Carbon Trust suggest using your artificial tree 7-20 times (depending on its weight and materials).

Ikaash Najam, Customer Project Manager


Quick-fire tips

Here are a final few tips to consider for a more sustainable Christmas this year:

  • Buy re-cycled or FSC-certified Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and crackers.
  • Plan in advance for your Christmas dinner and prepare only what you know you will eat. If there any leftovers, freeze what you can or save it in Tupperwear to eat in the days after.
  • Support small, sustainable businesses when buying presents, gift wrap, and decorations.

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