Our guide to sustainable Christmas events
We generally cause more damage to the environment in December, contributing 6% more to the global carbon footprint than the rest of the year. Keep in mind these tips when planning your Christmas socials and delivering festive experiences.
All that glitters
When you think of Christmas parties, you think sparkles and glitz, but most glitter isn’t all that glamorous. Being a micro-plastic, it can stay in our environment for centuries and release harmful toxins when it breaks down. A range of brands, sell biodegradable or plant based glitter in plastic-free packaging so you can throw glitter confetti and cover yourself in sparkles care-free.
Light it up
An easy swap to make for any event, swap out traditional lights for LED alternatives. LEDs have a smaller carbon footprint as they convert the majority of their energy into light, not heat, so require less power than other forms of lighting. One LED bulb, providing the same luminosity as one incandescent bulb emits 80% less greenhouse gases.
You can also create a cosy atmosphere with candles. Opt for reusable candle holders and soy wax candles rather than paraffin wax which is made of crude oil, a non-renewable resource.
Say goodbye to single-use crackers
A Christmas dinner isn’t complete without crackers, but they’re often covered in the eco-enemy that is glitter and filled with plastics that end up in the bin after five minutes of fun. The alternative is to invest in some fabric reusable crackers which can be used again and again, and the best bit is you can choose your own (eco-friendly) goodies to put inside that guests will love.
The Good Zest Company has introduced Plantable crackers, made from 100% recycled card that is embedded with wild flower seeds.
The Christmas tree conundrum
An impressive tree is a must-have for any Christmas event and celebration and putting up your Christmas tree marks the start of the holiday season, but from a sustainability perspective they’re not so inspiring. Artificial trees aren’t recyclable, so they end up in a landfill for a very long time. On average, an artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg, more than ten times that of a real tree. This means, you would have to use your artificial tree 10 times to negate its carbon footprint, yet it’s estimated that they are only used four times.
That being said, seven million Christmas trees will be dumped rather than recycled in January after only a month of use, despite taking about six years to grow. There are also concerns surrounding the survival of some species of conifers that are endangered by the deforestation caused by annual cuts of tens of millions of Christmas trees.
Love a Christmas Tree offers an innovative solution. You can rent their home-grown trees over the festive period and they come and collect them afterwards to replant them!
Locally sourced, organic and vegan catering
Does the tradition of tucking into a Turkey dinner need to change? Meat production adds significantly to our carbon footprints and turkeys are over farmed in cramped conditions and grown at unnatural rates for Christmas, only for two million turkeys to be wasted. Plastic wrapped treats and vegetables flown in from around the world add to the dilemma of what to serve guests.
Consider a catering company that serves vegan options and sources local and organic ingredients. Kit and Kee is a catering company, based on an organic farm, that offers seasonal event catering with plenty of vegetarian options. Consider their hampers or a voucher from Abel and Cole for a great gift for guests to have their own sustainable Christmas at home.
Give gifts that give back
Rather than filling goodie bags with the usual corporate pens and key chains that will be eventually thrown away, think about gifts that will not only leave a positive impact on the environment, but your guests too. One adorable and thoughtful idea is ‘adopting’ endangered animals in a guest’s name, so they can get updates that will result in a long-lasting impact. It doesn’t hurt that they’ll receive a super cute teddy bear either! WWF and Sierra Club both have a large range of animals to adopt.
Use natural decorations for table settings and centrepieces that will decompose after your event. You should always opt for seasonal flowers and foliage and for December this means rosemary, anemones, evergreen sprigs, pinecones, holly, frosty fern, mistletoe, berries and twigs. This will also create a relaxing atmosphere as humans are hard-wired to want to connect with nature and “biophilic design” has been proven to increase the likelihood of positive emotions.