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How to be Sustainable in Winter

Hi, I'm Suyin. I have a few tips and tricks on how we can all enjoy Christmas while ensuring we are also being planet friendly.

Sustainable Winter Blog

Christmas is the season of joy. Presents, food (a lot of it!), snow, Christmas jumpers, Santa, reindeers… what’s there not to love?! It’s once a year after all, many of us often go all out on Christmas. However, our planet is suffering – as we consume more resources, we need to produce more, and this can be manufacturing plastics or burning fossil fuels (resulting in greenhouse gas emissions). Even feasting has an impact; we eat, and we throw food away – that leads to significant waste and emissions. Did you notice the amount of rainfall we’ve had this year? And don’t be quick to assume climate change isn’t happening just because it is freezing here in Leeds at the moment! Read on to find out simple ways we can enjoy Christmas while doing our bit to help the planet as well.

Gift Wrapping

Instead of going out to purchase wrapping paper, do it yourself! If you have newspaper, use that – it is also a good way to make use of those art classes you had in school or personalise messages. I use a marker and highlighter to get in some nice colours, or you can use colourful food wrapping or packaging (don’t leave any crumbs!) for a bit of creativity. You could also use fabric or purchase recycled brown paper to wrap gifts. Don’t forget to keep any ribbons or nice packaging you receive, you can reuse them next year!

Brown paper

Online Shopping

Sometimes, it is so much easier to find a gift online. With the ease of the internet, you can find the perfect gift in seconds, pay online and have it at your doorstep in 2 days. No need to spend hours at the shop looking for that pesky present. Besides saving time, online shopping can also be better for the environment if you consider factors like having a physical store open (electricity and heating) and driving to the store (fuel). However, be mindful about purchasing and returning goods as this can lead to high energy consumption.

These are a few tips to reduce our environmental footprint:

  • Choosing standard delivery instead of express delivery – this allows parcels to be transported on lorries that are fully loaded
  • Consider shopping online and picking it up locally if it’s convenient
  • Avoid missing delivery services, it costs time and money for the lorry to travel back and forth
  • Consolidate orders and try to avoid buying from too many different retailers

Food

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas feast? All those mince pies, roast parsnips, cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding… However, be mindful about the amount of food that is leftover – food waste contributes significantly to greenhouse gases emissions. This is because a lot of energy is needed to get food onto the table (into a delicious, edible state), and throwing food out leads to a waste of this energy.

Tips to reduce food wastage include planning (if you’re not in charge of cooking, help your family plan!) and sticking to the shopping list (try not to pick up that extra bag of chocolates or puddings). If you’ve eaten until you’re stuffed, keep leftovers in the fridge. Try getting creative with it, adding it to a stir-fry or a pasta the next day?

Christmas Jumpers

Who doesn’t love a good festive Christmas jumper? When sourcing for one, try and pick up one from a charity shop or even a used one online, there are tons of them! The fashion industry is one of the major polluting industries in the world – a lot of water is required during production, and there are microfibres present in garments that affect our oceans. Clothes also take a long time to decompose and end up in landfills (which is already full of all our other waste). If possible, try to avoid buying new ones!

Advent Calendars

You might have already bought your advent calendar; however, these calendars are often single-use and difficult to recycle. While they might be festive and create anticipation leading up to Christmas, there are ways to reduce the impact on the environment with the following tips:

  • Wooden DIY advent calendar
    Perhaps get a wooden advent calendar and fill it up with your little presents – or get it as a gift to someone for them to fill it up (and reuse it every year!)
  • Hanging cloth advent calendar
    There are a range of cloth advent calendars for sale online! Again – reusable.
  • Or just reuse the current one that you have!

Sure – it might not be as fun, but who says you can’t make it fun?

With these tips in mind, have a great Christmas! Even after Christmas, keep being sustainable and do your part to help save the planet. Perhaps a New Year’s resolution might be to be more sustainable? There are many ways to be more mindful, thinking about our behaviours and choices and the effect it has on the planet and our future.

Merry Christmas!

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About the Author

Suyin

Hi, I'm Suyin. I am currently a final year international student studying Dietetics. I have an interest in food and sustainability and how we can make simple changes and do our part to help the environment.

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