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Climate Friendly Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching. It’s going to be a bit different from usual this year anyway so why not go all the way and make it as climate friendly as possible!

There is a lot of pressure on us all to consume as much as possible at Christmas. The very best thing we can all do is just to be aware of that pressure to consume and try to think about every purchase and item we buy and ask ourselves is this really necessary? Do I really need this? Is there an alternative?

Real Tree or Fake Tree?

The real tree versus fake Christmas tree debate is one we hear every year. Which is best for a climate friendly Christmas?

If you already own a plastic tree then the best thing you can do is keep using it until it is completely worn out.

If you don’t already own a fake tree then a real tree is the way to go. It is best to buy a locally grown one. Christmas trees take around 8 – 12 years to grown and during that time are a good carbon sink, they are also a crop so will be replaced each time they are felled and don’t contribute to deforestation.

To go a step further you can rent a living potted tree from some places and return it after Christmas or keep your own potted one in the garden.

Check out this great article from the soil association for more details.


Presents are always a really tricky subject, buying second-hand is great for the planet but some people just don’t like giving or receiving second-hand presents. If you have family or friends who you think might be up for this maybe have a conversation and see if you can all buy second-hand for each other. Or you could tell your family and friends that you would be very happy with second-hand presents. If you aren’t up for second-hand maybe think about a no plastic rule instead?

Children’s toys like Lego sets or plastic toys and figures themed to TV programmes and films are readily available on lots of second-hand online marketplaces and are often far more affordable and in very good condition. Buying second-hand means you aren’t using more virgin plastic products and getting them shipped in from China.

Another climate friendly option is giving a voucher for a local experience or a local shop, business or restaurant.

Secret Santa is another climate friendly idea so you can get one person a really good quality present rather than lots of individual cheaper presents that might not be used as well.

Trying to support local shops and businesses and companies that are trying hard to reduce their own environmental impact.

Wrapping Paper

Every year in the UK 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away rather than being re-used or recycled. Try to buy paper that can be recycled – The test is if it scrunches up into a tight ball it can be recycled, if it can’t be scrunched it generally can’t be recycled. Avoiding metallic paper and glittery paper also helps as these tend to include plastics.

Buying paper that is made from recycled paper and is recyclable is even better. This is often a brown paper based wrapping paper. Plain brown recycled paper is also a good option and good value to buy. It can look really great with a simple ribbon or can be decorated with reusable stamps or pens/paint. You can also buy biodegradable brown paper tape, regular tapes now mostly have plastic in them.

If you want to go all out you could try using old newspapers and magazines or even spare pieces of material that can be reused year on year.


It is so easy to over cater and over-eat at Christmas and end up with lots of food waste. Planning ahead to minimise food waste can really help. In terms of climate friendly food choices minimising meat intake is really important.

Where you are buying meat buying local high welfare options is great. If you are having a Christmas turkey there is so much you can do to use all of the animal right down to making stock with the bones and offal.

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from Penicuik Carbon Challenge!

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