Yuletide sustainability: Have yourself a merry, green Christmas

With presents, colourful decorations, twinkling fairy lights, huge family feasts, lords a-leaping and partridges in pear trees, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Unfortunately, despite all the yuletide cheer, it seems that many of our Christmastime traditions, from gift-giving to putting up trees, isn’t great for the planet.

In fact, each holiday season could be bringing the world closer to disaster.

But getting into the holiday spirit need not spell doom for Mother Earth. 

QNET has always advocated sustainability, not just during Christmas, but all year long. Here’s how you can play your part this festive season and have both a jolly and eco-friendly Christmas:

Pick the right tree

Real or artificial? That’s the eternal question when it comes to Christmas trees! 

Yet despite the neverending arguments around dinner tables, there isn’t a clear answer. But being aware of your choices helps.

For example, while it’s true that natural trees are more gorgeous, unless you’re getting one from a farm with a sustainable replanting plan, chopping down a living tree only to discard it later is not a good idea. 

One option is to go for a live tree in a pot that can be reused year after year.

If you’re choosing to go the plastic route, though, one thing to note is that artificial trees need to be used for at least nine years to ensure minimal environmental impact.

Incidentally, there are loads of left field, creative alternatives you could consider, from using decorative branches to building trees out of ladders and even books. 

Consider lighting options

Regardless of the tree you decide on, you’ll need to think about twinkling lights to wrap around your fir, and your best option is LEDs.

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) may be slightly more costly than incandescent and other types of bulbs, but they’re also 90% more energy efficient.

Incidentally, LEDs are also great as fairy lights for the rest of your home. 

That being said, extra lights translates to more energy being spent and greater light pollution. So perhaps reconsider lighting up every inch of space or leaving the lights on all holiday long?

Purchase environmentally friendly gifts

Exchanging gifts is undoubtedly a big part of Christmas. Unfortunately, according to one study, little thought is paid to how earth-friendly the gifts are.

For instance, take socks, a gift most of us have received or given at least once.

Socks and lots of athletic wear these days are manufactured with silver nanoparticles which help get rid of odour and bacteria.

While great for feet and generally safe, these can wash out of clothes and make their way into wastewater.

The solution is not to stop gifting socks (and clothes) altogether, but to be more discerning of our purchases. 

You might want to consider sustainable gifts instead, like tote bags with long uses, gifts like QNET’s Cimier watches that use eco-friendly packaging, and even preloved items. Or how about making some gifts this year?

Oh, and make sure to use recycled or recyclable wrapping paper if you don’t want to contribute to the mountains of wasted paper.

Think about food prep

For many people, the holidays mean special treats and sharing meals with loved ones. Unfortunately, all that feasting translates to excess buying and an enormous food waste problem.

Wasting food is awful considering the billion-odd people who go hungry each day and all the wasted energy involved in food production. Thankfully, the issue is largely solvable.  

For a start, resist the temptation to overspend. Plan ahead so you purchase just enough groceries and supplies, and don’t end up preparing more than necessary.

Incidentally, vegetarian diets are one way to reduce food waste. This explains why more people than ever are choosing to go plant-based this Christmas.

Have yourself a plastic-free Christmas 

Speaking of Christmas get-togethers, it’s often tempting to go the single-use route to avoid having to deal with piles of dirty dishes and cutlery. 

But, of course, convenience always comes at a cost. And more plastic plates and cups in landfills is certainly not worth it.

So opt for reusable tableware where possible. And if you really do need disposables, opt for biodegradable plates, cups and more. 

Incidentally, plastic wrap is a major source of pollution, so ditch it and use reusable bowl covers or containers instead.

Just prior planning and a few changes this year, and you can enjoy the festivities guilt-free!

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