Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it is also a period of heavy consumption which can take its toll on the environment. An estimated one billion Christmas cards and seven million Christmas trees are bought each UK festive season meaning the amount of waste significantly increases at this time of year.

These huge numbers mean it’s important to think about how your Christmas cards and trees are produced and what you can do with them once the celebrations are over. This way you can enjoy the festivities while limiting your impact on the environment.

The Woodland Trust looks at best ways to minimise waste and have a more sustainable Christmas.

Eco-Friendly Christmas cards

A great place to start when selecting Christmas cards is choosing cards which are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certified. This ensures the paper used has been sustainably and ethically produced.

Look out for plastic-free cards too – many are now wrapped in paper rather than cellophane, and use vegetable inks and a water-based varnish for printing.

Once Christmas is over, you should always recycle cards, and there are a number of ways you can do this, including:

  • Taking them down to your local recycling point
  • Turning them into decorations or gift tags for next Christmas
  • Use them for kids’ Christmas card crafts.

Environmentally-Friendly Christmas Trees

Buying a real tree

Perhaps the most environmentally-friendly option is to buy a tree with roots. As this means you can re-plant it once the festive season is over, store it in a pot and bring it back into the house next year.

If you do opt to purchase a felled tree, choosing a local grower with FSC® accreditation is best. The FSC® certificate ensures that the trees have been grown sustainably and ethically.

After Christmas, you can then recycle your felled tree to be turned into compost. Many local authorities run Christmas tree recycling schemes, so it’s best to check. If this isn’t available in your area, you can take it to the garden waste section of your nearest disposal centre.

A newer scheme that has come into circulation is a Christmas tree rental scheme; this is now offered by some garden centres and tree nurseries. This means that you simply rent a Christmas tree in a pot and return it to the growers afterwards. The tree is then reused for other homes and families in future years.

Buying artificial trees

Artificial trees are less environmentally-friendly as most are made from non-recyclable plastic. The carbon emissions which are generated during the production of artificial trees are also very high. If you do opt for an artificial tree, be sure to use it for as long as possible to reduce the environmental impact.

Other eco-friendly Christmas ideas

  • Why not buy presents from responsible and local retailers?
  • Choose reusable over single-use throwaway items where possible, with products like out felt advent calendar which can be refilled with treats year after year
  • Save your wrapping paper over the years and reuse it – avoiding any with plastic glitter
  • Limit the amount of time that Christmas lights are switched on
  • Plan meals carefully to avoid food waste.