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11 Easy Actions For a Low Impact Christmas

Christmas is around the corner and while it’s the most wonderful time of the year for many, it’s certainly not the most eco-friendly one. With this low-impact Christmas guide, covering everything from sustainable and ethical gifts to climate-friendly dinners, it’s easier than ever to celebrate Christmas in a sustainable way, both at home and at work.

1. Ecofriendly Christmas Decoration

One of the easiest rules when it comes to sustainability is: use what you have. The most sustainable product is the one that you didn’t buy. So even if you have plastic Christmas decorations, don’t toss them out. Use them, over and over and over again. If you are looking for new decorations, turn to nature. How about orange slices as decoration or dried - locally grown - flowers? If Advent Calendars are your thing, choose a reusable option over a single use version. 

2. Sustainable Christmas Gifts

The choices we make when buying Christmas gifts have a significant impact on our planet and communities. In the UK alone, it is estimated that half of the population receives unwanted gifts during Christmas, with a value of £5.03 billion. That’s time, money and natural resources down the drain.

This year, give the gift that keeps on growing: trees planted by Life Terra. It’s a beautiful, personal and meaningful Christmas present: you are giving a green future, clean air, health and biodiversity. Whether you want to plant one tree for a friend, colleague or family member, or hundreds of trees as a collective Christmas gift for your entire company: it’s up to you! Gift your trees through our special ‘Adopt a Tree’ page or contact us for custom options for companies.

Gifting trees is - obviously - our number one favorite. But it isn’t the only way to sustainably celebrate Christmas. You can give second hand gifts or swap. Put “stories over stuff” and give an experience. Get inspired by the Icelandic tradition of Jolokabokaflod - Christmas Book Flood - and give a book (you’ll find over twenty options scrolling down to number 11 of this list). Gadget fans will be thrilled by these sustainable earplugs from Fairphone. 

3. Sustainable Gift Wrapping

There’s absolutely no need to buy single-use, sparkly wrapping paper. Get creative and wrap your gifts using old newspapers. At the office, opt for (non-confidential) old paper documents, banners, or catalogues. For those who are digital savvy and don’t have any old paperwork available, dive into Furoshiki, the stunning Japanese method of gift wrapping and swear off traditional gift wrapping paper for good.

4. A Planet Friendly Christmas Outfit

Whether you are team Ugly Christmas Sweater or team Black Tie, your outfit doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Use what you have - there’s the rule again - , swap your outfit, buy second hand or check if there’s a clothing library in your hometown and rent a fashionable outfit. 

5. Conscious Christmas Food

What we put on our plates for Christmas has a big environmental impact. Prepare plant based dishes made from locally grown organic ingredients to reduce food miles and support your local economy, or opt for a local caterer that does.

Reconnect with your favorite food: rather than buying Christmas cookies, why not make them yourself? Turn your family or colleagues into “shake and bake” fans this year!

Make sure you don’t buy too much food and celebrate leftovers rather than tossing them out. Reduction of food waste is one of the biggest contributions you can make to reduce your carbon footprint. If you are in charge of hosting the annual Holiday party at the office, have some foodie bags (also known as doggy bags) available, so your colleagues can take any leftovers home. Serve food on reusable plates with reusable cutlery. Doing the dishes might be a bit of an extra effort, but Mother Earth will be grateful to you.

6. Responsible and Regenerative Drinks For Christmas Parties

If you are hosting the Christmas party this year, it’s easier than ever to surprise your guests with delicious drinks that are planet friendly. Choose organic or regenerative wine or champagne wherever possible. In California for instance, owls are used instead of pesticides on vineyards. 

Keep in mind that locally sourced drinks reduce greenhouse gas emissions and search for your local equivalent of this Catalonian beer. If you are a fan of glühwein, make your own.

How about wowing your guests or colleagues with zero waste drinks, like beers made from rescued potatoes, bread and raspberries, alcohol free cider from rescued fruits or a tasty aperitif made of… coffee leaves! 

For breakfast or after dinner, turn to radically good coffee or regenerative tea. Served in reusable mugs of course.

7. Listen to a Sustainable Podcast

If you are a fan of podcasts, the Christmas season is the perfect time to sit back, relax and listen to an episode of your favorite podcast. Listen to Sven Kallen (founder of Life Terra) on the Regenerative Skills podcast, tune in for Jane Goodalls Hopecast, the podcast of BBC Earth, Trees a Crowd, or dive into the world of Rewilding.

8. Real vs Plastic Christmas Tree: Which One is Better For The Environment?

Not a single Christmas season goes by without the most heated debate popping up: what’s better for the environment, a real or plastic Christmas tree? Both have their pros and cons. If you already have an artificial one, apply the “use what you have” rule here too and keep using it. If you don’t have a Christmas tree yet, one of these eco-friendly alternatives might be the way to go. 

At the office, plants are a worthy replacement for Christmas trees. Additional benefit: just like trees, plants have a lot of health benefits. They increase productivity, creativity and reduce stress.

9. Watch a Hopeful Documentary

If the internet were a country, it would be the 6th largest consumer of electricity. So turning off your screen and spending your time going outside for a walk is a good option. If in some moment you decide to turn on your screen, watch an inspiring documentary, such as Kiss the Ground, Banking Nature, Forest Man or Fools and Dreamers: Regenerating a native forest. At the office, hosting a screening event with one of these documentaries is a great way to share a hopeful message with your colleagues. They show that everyone can take meaningful climate action!

10. Turn the Lights On - Sustainably

Although candles are definitely a favorite during the Christmas season, many of them contain paraffin. Paraffin is made from fossil fuels, which isn’t only harmful to the planet, but they're also bad for your health and your home. Search for eco-friendly alternatives, made of soy or coconut wax instead.

11. The Best Books About Trees and Nature to Read 

Books are an excellent gift choice (see item 2 on this list) and Christmas is a great moment to snuggle up on the couch with a good story. If you are looking for books with positive impact, our partner One Tree Planted compiled this awesome list with 24 books about trees and nature.

The entire Life Terra team wishes you Happy and Sustainable Holidays!

Valley with trees

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