Four Ways to Cut the Carbon From Your Christmas Celebrations

Last-minute shopping for the forgotten secret santa. Glitter-covered wrapping paper nabbed at the check-out. An extra bag of Brussels sprouts, just in case – even though you don’t like them. The festive season is here, and as one of the world’s most widely celebrated holidays, there’s a lot to look forward to. But unfortunately, the things we love most about Christmas can be bad news for the planet. Beautifully wrapped gifts, novelty jumpers and decadent meals shared with loved ones who’ve travelled long distances to be with us all bring laughter and joy, yet carry a hefty carbon footprint. Research shows that the majority of Brits want to have a more sustainable Christmas. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do just that, this winter and beyond.

1. Go meat-free for dinner

For many people, a plant-based meal is already a staple on Christmas Day, and for good reason: a festive dinner of roast turkey and all the usual trimmings prepared for eight people is estimated to generate 20 kg of carbon, with the U.K.’s combined Christmas dinners creating the same amount of carbon as 300 return car journeys to the Moon. If that’s blown your mind a little, why not create a new culinary tradition this Christmas? With so many delicious meat-free options available, you’re bound to find something you’ll love that’s kinder to the planet, too.

Can’t quite stomach the thought of a turkey-free Christmas? Skip the cranberry sauce, which is usually imported and contributes to half of the festive meal’s transport-related emissions.

2. Set a Christmas gift-wrapping challenge

Wrapping presents is truly an art form, but our penchant for glittery paper has a negative impact that lasts much longer than it takes for the recipient to rip open their gifts. The amount of wrapping paper thrown away in the UK each year is enough to wrap around the island of Guernsey, and much of it can’t be recycled. 

Mix things up this year by challenging yourself and whoever you’ll be exchanging gifts with to buy no new wrapping paper, sticky tape or decorative flairs, using only materials you already have at home to wrap each other’s presents. Newspapers, magazines, even items of clothing or pillowcases (to be retained or reused after, of course!) are great options to try. We can’t promise the results will win you any prizes, but they’ll be a guaranteed talking point on Christmas Day–and much better for the environment.

3. Keep Christmas local

From online shopping for those who made it onto your ‘Nice’ list, to traversing the country to visit friends and family for festive get-togethers, Christmas often sees us venturing out of our local areas, at a price to the planet. While the upheaval and uncertainty of the last few years have definitely changed people’s habits when it comes to festive-season extravagance, data from Christmasses past revealed that over nine million Brits were planning to spend the holiday season abroad, with sun-soaked destinations like Thailand and Australia proving popular among travellers. 

Cut the carbon out of your festive plans by staying as local as possible. Instead of ordering gifts online, possibly to be shipped from abroad, browse local businesses for presents. Travelling to spend Christmas with loved ones is important – using public transport to get there has a much lower impact than driving or flying. Planning a festive getaway? Swap your international destination for somewhere much closer to home.

4. Dreaming of a dry Christmas?

While thousands of people give up alcohol for January, it’s far less common to go dry during Christmas. However, there are plenty of benefits to ditching the drink for the festive season. From the energy-intensive farming of ingredients such as grapes, barley and sugarcane, to the impact of transport, storage and packaging, many of our favourite alcoholic beverages carry large carbon footprints that leave a bitter aftertaste.

Opting for soft drinks and non-alcoholic alternatives can mean you can buy in larger quantities, minimising your packaging waste. Locally produced and organic options will have an even lower impact, and you’ll have the pleasure of waking up with a clear head – and conscience – come Boxing Day. 

Whether or not you decide to forego the festive tipple this year, be sure to recycle all your glass bottles – doing so could save as much as 4,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

Reducing your carbon footprint is the first step towards being part of the fight for a liveable future, but to make that a reality we also have to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, quickly and permanently. With a monthly carbon removal subscription, your Christmas carbon emissions will be put back where they belong for 100,000+ years, and you’ll be heading into the New Year with a resolution to help us lock away one billion tonnes of carbon by 2030.

Find out more about our individual subscriptions

With a monthly carbon removal subscription, your Christmas carbon emissions will be put back where they belong for 100,000+ years, and you’ll be heading into the New Year with a resolution to help us lock away one billion tonnes of carbon by 2030.