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Have yourself a merry eco Christmas

Here at River Cottage HQ, we’re not dreaming of a white Christmas. We want our festive season to be green.

At this time of year, we like to spare a thought for our long suffering planet. The environmental impact of Christmas is needlessly huge, but with just a few quick and easy changes to your celebrations you can make a big difference and save money too.


We’ve compiled our top 10 tips for an environmentally-friendly yuletide:

1. Food waste

Cook once, eat twice. Recent figures suggest the UK chucks out 7 millon tons of food at Christmas, the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 5m Christmas puddings and a truly shocking 74m mince pies. Reduce your food waste by carefully planning what you buy, using leftovers and freezing table scraps. Check out our recipe ideas from Hugh's Love Your Leftovers. 

2. Locally-grown, organic food

Buy locally-grown, organic food, from your local farmers’ shop or market where possible. The shorter transport distance from field to fork will cut down on carbon emissions. In particular, make the effort to source an organic turkey.

3. Christmas candles

Buying Christmas candles? Make sure you go for ones made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment.

4. Wrapping paper

In the UK we collectively throw away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, which is enough to stretch nine times around the world! Swap foil wrapping paper for newspaper or plain brown paper which can be easily recycled. You might be the butt of some Scrooge-based jokes, but wear it with pride – you are doing your bit to reduce waste.

5. Decorations

Use natural items for decorations and ditch the plastic. Collect pine cones, twigs, berries, sprigs of evergreen plants and oranges to create wreaths, centrepieces and simple ornaments.


6. Tree lights

Christmas tree lights on average are left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons, so turn them off when they are not needed. Better still, use timers so you don’t have to remember.

7. Turn down the thermostat

Turn down the thermostat by 1 degree. What with a house full of people and the oven on full pelt, your house will be warmer than usual. Plus, you’ll not only save carbon and money but it’s a good excuse to don your most outrageous Christmas jumper.

8.Christmas cards

On average, each person in the UK receives 17 Christmas cards. That’s a lot of trees. Make sure you choose recycled options or even send an e-card. And come January, make sure you recycle all your cards or even make gift tags with them for next year’s festivities.

9. Defrost your freezer

Not the most joyful activity, but defrosting your freezer before you fill it with Christmas fare could save big on electricity and money – perhaps as much as £100 a year!

10. Disposable plates

Hosting a party? Try to avoid disposable plates and cutlery which create unnecessary landfill waste. If you don’t have enough dishware than ask guests to bring some with them. If you really can’t face all that washing up, choose 100% compostable dishes, napkin and utensils.