Five top sustainable Christmas swaps – from wrapping paper to party outfits

Households in Northern Ireland throw away 230,942 tonnes of waste across the festive season – more than any other time of the year.

Last Christmas alone our wasted wrapping paper could have stretched around the planet nine times over, so the Live Here Love Here team at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are calling for families to source eco-friendly alternatives for 2018.

Christmas is usually an indulgence of parties, gifts, decorations and lots to eat and drink. Nowadays there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives that will help save our environment whilst letting us enjoy all the things we love about Christmas.

The charity is calling for consumers to start small and try just one of these top tips for a sustainable Christmas:

1. With gift wrapping you want to reuse last year’s giftbags and left over paper before buying more. Think alternative materials by wrapping in newspaper or make the wrapping part of the present by using cloth or a scarf.

If you have to buy, try recyclable wrapping paper (avoiding glitter as it contains microplastics) and do the ‘scrunch test’. If the paper stays in a ball shape, then it can be placed in the recycling box but if it springs back it is most likely metallised plastic film and therefore not currently recyclable.

2. Reusing an existing artificial tree is better than buying a new real tree each year.

If you do buy, get a potted version you can replant after Christmas and enjoy for years to come. Trees can also be considered as presents too – gift a native tree and plant it with friends and family to mark the end/start of a new year.

3. If you’re searching for the perfect party outfit try buy and sell clothing apps or visit a local charity or vintage shop plus all major retailers now stock sustainable clothing lines. You could always get into the festive season and throw a clothes swap party with friends.

4. 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away each year in the UK.

Send e-cards instead or make a DIY card for close friends and family that they are likely to keep as a memento (again avoiding glitter). If you need to buy think charity cards that are made of recycled materials.

5. Create your own advent calendar that will last for generations with wooden boxes or felt pockets and simply restock each year with edible treats.

The key is to try and buy less and when you do buy, be responsible.

Live Here Love Here manager Jodie McAneaney called for urgent action as we approach the festive period.

“A green Christmas is possible. If everyone took one small sustainable step it would make a huge impact and reduce waste headed for landfill, bring down our carbon emissions and divert plastics from entering our eco and marine systems,” she said.

“We’ve had a landmark year with a huge increase in volunteers getting involved in our projects – its great progress but we need to keep up the momentum. We’re calling for everyone to rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle and make steps towards a sustainable Christmas.”


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