Video: How can we all be more sustainable this Christmas

By Janice Kusters, Rebecca Russell, Niamh Kirk and Sarah Wood

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also one of the most wasteful.

With presents bought in plastic packaging and wrapping paper, with advent calendars thrown out once they’ve done their job, and with excessive food prepared for Christmas dinner.

In recent years, people have become more and more aware of sustainability, and the role we play in ensuring our world can be maintained as it is.

 Freya Gilbert, co-owner of Leicester shop Crafty Sew and So, gave advice to what consumers can do themselves, including recommending people to shop locally.

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Freya Gilbert in Crafty Sew and So

Research, as reported by GoGreen, shows that shopping locally can have many environmental benefits, as produce has travelled fewer miles to reach the shop. 

When you shop at big chain grocery stores, many of the food items you buy can travel as many as 1,500 miles to reach your local branch. 

While other things like Christmas presents are often even produced in different continents and have to be brought in by plane or container ship. Shopping locally for your Christmas dinner can also ensure fresher produce and help protect local land and wildlife. 

Lauren Welch, founder a zero waste shop in Leicester called NADA, said her store has lots of produce which can be used for Christmas dinner, Christmas Pudding in particular. Last Christmas, she noticed that people do make an effort to be more sustainable.

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Lauren Welch stocks lots of goodies in her NADA zero waste store

Lauren herself makes an effort to make Christmas more sustainable too, wanting to educate her young daughter and set the right example. 

In December, Crafty Sew and So, focuses heavily on Christmas, organising workshops to make things such as stockings and quilts. 

To make Christmas presents more sustainable, Freya recommended taking a fabric-based approach. A fabric advent calendar for example, can be refilled and re-used every year. Freya herself likes to fill them up with chocolates from a Fairtrade shop.

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A little thought goes a long way with sustainable Christmas gifts

Presents can also be wrapped in fabric rather than paper. Once the present is opened, the piece of fabric can be re-used for the same person, or if the gift-receiver is crafty, it can be part of the present and can be made into something else. 

Freya admitted that wrapping presents this way is a little more expensive, but as it can be re-used or can be part of the gift, this does not necessarily have to be a negative. Gift Bags can also be made, just like sleeves for wine bottles, but these are usually a little more time-consuming to produce. 

Christmas ornaments can also be made more sustainable. Whilst in the past ornaments were used year after year, in recent years it has become more common to buy new decorations for the tree, especially tinsel which is often bought cheaply and tossed every year. 

Freya recommended making your own ornaments. Not only will they hold more sentimental value, but they will also be more durable.

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