10 ways to celebrate Christmas sustainably

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10 ways to celebrate Christmas sustainably

The festive season is upon us! For many, the scramble to buy everything we need, do everything in time and please everyone can take over the real reason we want to celebrate. Spending time with loved ones, sharing food and memories, and celebrating however you want to should be at the top of the wish list, and we’re putting it back there! Here are 10 ideas to twist traditions, skip the overspending and up the enjoyment this year – you in?

These tips are part of something bigger. At Hubbub, we want to see a world where everyone makes choices that are good for the environment. Check out what we do and how your actions add up.

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Around a third of all our food gets thrown away, which means the money spent on it is wasted too. A typical household could save £60 a month by avoiding food waste so let’s make the most of our food this festive season:

  • Plan like a pro so you only buy what you need/like (don't feel pressured to cook certain things for tradition if nobody likes them!)
  • Love your leftovers and explore simple recipes to remix your festive odds and ends into new dishes
  • Make use of your freezer, it’ll be your best friend if you can heat up some mince pies during a surprise festive visit. It’s probably worth clearing some space in the freezer ahead of the big day for any other food.

Whether it’s presents, decorations or clothes, there are many quality second hand options these days. Check out your local charity shops (most of them save their best stock for Christmas time!), and websites like Ebay, Vinted, Depop or even Facebook Marketplace. You’ll save some money, give things a second life, and help keep valuable resources out of landfill.

It might cost less, but it can mean more. Have some fun with your Christmas cards, using photos, doing doodles, getting the kids to finger paint, or even your pet’s paw print! Making your own gifts can be a bit of a gift to yourself too, if you enjoy the time spent getting creative or learning a new skill. And whether they turn out fabulous or hilarious, they’ll definitely be remembered! Your gift could even be your time.

When it comes to decorations, the easiest thing you can do is just dig out the ones from last year. But if you want a refresh, try making some yourself! There’s plenty of simple handmade things you can try, from photo decorations, to popcorn garlands and natural wreaths. Doing these together could make a lovely day’s activity for the whole family!

Better to fake surprise than to fake delight, right? This is our golden rule for gift giving. Sure, it’s nice to surprise people, but it’s even better to get them something they actually want and like. It’s not only kids that can make wish lists, ask around (directly, or people that know them best) so you know the time and money spent on your present won’t go to waste.

With 50% of the UK reducing their meat intake by some amount, this is the year to make your Christmas dinner a bit more veggie or plant based. Can’t imagine it? Every great tradition started with someone doing something for the first time! It’s a great chance to try some new recipes or twists on your usual traditions, and swapping things over instead of cooking two different versions for different diets means it’s cheaper and easier too.

Shopping for gifts can be overwhelming with the amount of Christmas advertising and the endless scrolling options online, let alone how much it can cost. Secret Santa is the ultimate way to save, as you’ll only have to buy one present for each social circle, and you can all agree on a budget together.

If you’re buying new, could you support a local, independent business? Try Etsy and filter for ‘handmade in the UK’.

If you’re ordering online, consolidating orders or choosing to click-and-collect are two easy ways to help reduce the emissions from deliveries. Save future you some hassle and be careful of overbuying with the intention to return lots of it. Sadly a lot of online returns aren’t actually resold, so this will save them from landfill too!

Did you know glittery and shiny wrapping paper can’t be recycled? Brown paper is a great (and cheap) alternative that can be personalised with decorations or jazzed up with a ribbon. Or you could go hipster (and totally free!) with newspaper wrapping. 

Check out furoshiki, the Japanese art of fabric wrapping, and use old scarves or fabric you have to wrap your gifts. Beautiful, reusable, free, and a double gift if the person likes fabric too!

During lockdown, community spirit was at a high as people realised how much the people around them could support each other, and we appreciated the little and simple things we still could do. We could all benefit from this sense of community again, now more than ever! 

Connecting with people in your local area and finding ways to give back doesn’t just do good, it feels good too. You could support a local community fridge or food bank, help an organisation supporting refugees or those facing homelessness, or help provide gifts for children without.

Figuring out what to wear for this year’s festive parties? You’re not alone. Last year 7 million of us planned on buying something new to wear out in December, adding up to a whopping £330.5 million spent on new outfits in the run-up to Christmas*. Give your favourite outfits a replay this year and wear your favourite festive outfits again instead of buying something new. If nothing in your wardrobe is singing to you try swapping with friends or family for a brand new look without spending anything. Look on rental platforms like Loanhood, By Rotation or Hurr or second-hand sites like charity shops, eBay, Depop and Vinted if you need more options.   

* Thanks it's last years, Press release, Hubbub, 2021.

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