When I wrote this blog post I was really excited because I was about to go on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s hour. The topic for discussion was can you really have an eco-friendly budget Christmas?
My answer was and still is – most definitely yes! There are lots of things that you can do to make your Christmas eco-friendly on a budget!
My 3 top tips for having an eco-friendly budget Christmas include:
1. Don’t waste food!
According to a study done by Warburtons, this festive season ‘Wasteful Brits will throw away’:
- 130 million sprouts
- 93 million roast potatoes
- 85 million helpings of stuffing
- 91 million slices of turkey
- Enough gravy to fill an Olympic swimming pool
- 82 million roasted parsnips
- 77 million pigs in blankets.
- 60 million glasses of wine
- 63 million glasses of flat beer.
They also found that on average households will make enough food to feed 3 extra people.
How can you avoid food waste?
First of all do a meal plan for the festive season and try to only buy what you need. If you would prefer to have too much food in case of surprise visitors and so on, have a plan for what to do with any leftovers so they don’t go to waste. Here are some examples.
The freezer is your friend
As long as it has only been cooked once, you can freeze most things including gravy, cheese, leftover roast potatoes, turkey, wine and beer. Shred leftover turkey to use in curries, stir fries, on pizzas, in pies and more! Save the gravy, wine and beer to use in cooking- tip freeze in icecube trays and then decant into a reusable freezer proof container. You could make a white wine sauce or a something and beer or ale pie! Use the cheese up in sauces and just reheat the potatoes when you want to eat them.
Use things up in ways you hadn’t thought of before
For example someone in my Reduce Your Food Waste Facebook group said that she always ends up with leftover mincemeat from the jar after she has made mince pies. Turns out there is a lot of things you can do with it e.g. use as an ingredient in apple crumble or have it as a topping on icecream. By the way I’m not talking about raw meat, I’m talking about the chutney that goes in mince pies! If you always have cranberry sauce leftover use it as a spread in leftover turkey sandwiches.
Give away the leftovers
For more ideas for how to use up leftover foods check out my bumper list of ideas here: Food waste – a challenge to avoid it for a day and a round up of use it up ideas . There is also a chapter in my Eco Thrifty Living book all about how to reduce waste in your kitchen.
On another note, you might want to consider having a vegetarian or vegan Christmas instead of the traditional turkey, or at least not have turkey at every Christmas event you go to. Also if you are living in food poverty and food waste is the last thing on your mind, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Read this article from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau on how to get help from food banks – Using a food bank
2. Don’t buy new clothes to wear once.
Christmas parties and Christmas jumper day, can fuel lots of spending on clothes. Often those clothes are worn once or only a handful of times. Save the Children are encouraging people not to buy a new jumper this year, but to find one secondhand because of all the synthetic a.k.a. plastic fibres in Christmas jumpers.
‘Many of the sweaters are expected to end up as single-use items, as two out of five Christmas jumpers are only worn once over the festive period, and one in three adults under 35 buys a new Christmas jumper every year.’Christmas jumper day goes green to cut down on plastic waste
Where to find secondhand clothes
I went looking round my local charity shops on the weekend and there were lots of party dresses, Christmas jumpers, Santa hats and other things that you will find useful for Christmas. Paying £6.99 for a new (to you) dress in a charity shop will be a lot less expensive than buying something new, is saving something from landfill and if you never want to wear it again, it won’t feel too painful to donate it back to charity once you are done with it.
There are also no spend ways to get hold of new clothes e.g. via Freecycle, Freegle, Facebook groups or friends or family who are having a declutter.
Aside from the plastic there are a lot of problems with fast fashion – for more info take a look at this blog post: Stop buying new clothes now . There is also section in Eco Thrifty Living the book dedicated to sustainable fashion.
3. Rethink what you give
Did you know the 28th of December is now known as Boxing Up Day? It’s the day that we sell our unwanted gifts online. Sites like eBay see a huge spike in listings. Last year it was predicted there would be ‘a staggering 74 million items being listed following Christmas‘. We need to put a stop to unwanted gifts!
Want to know how to do that – read this article: 10 easy ways to stop unwanted gifts . Some of my top tips include asking people what they want before you go shopping and telling people your likes and dislikes before they do! Also I think it is well worth scaling back on giving and receiving gifts in general, especially if there is nothing they or you need.
Another problem with giving is wrapping paper. Most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. It is often plastic lined or has plastic glitter stuck on it. Also even if it is recyclable, it still involves chopping down trees for a short moment of excitement. Join in with my campaign to put a stop to single use wrapping paper this festive season here: Use wrapping paper alternatives and #CutTheWrap !
For more info check out these 5 days of posts I wrote about how to avoid single use wrapping paper:
- Day 1 was about how to wrap up your gifts in fabric Furoshiki style.
- On Day 2 I provided some clues on how to have a unwrapped festive treasure hunt. There was also a bonus post on how to put an end to the madness of unwanted gifts.
- Day 3 was filled with 6 fun reduced waste Secret Santa ideas
- Day 4 was about making use of your recycling to wrap gifts
- And day 5 was all about how to use old clothes to wrap your gifts!
There were lots of other bloggers who got involved and helped to champion the campaign, whose posts are worth checking out too:
- Victoria Sully helped share the campaign on her blogs here: Cut the wrap: save money and stop single use wrapping paper this Christmas and Eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper #CutTheWrap
- Fiona Hawkes from Savvy in Somerset wrote about it here Eco Friendly Christmas wrapping ideas
- Rachelle Strauss from Zero Waste Week: Alarming Christmas Waste Statistics and How you Can Have a Zero Waste Christmas
- I did a round up on the UK Money Bloggers site of UKMB’s who pledged to join in with the campaign: Say no to single use wrapping paper
- Savvy Sisters: Wrapping paper alternatives to reduce waste
- Becky Goddard Hill from Family Budgeting- Cutting out things to save the pounds – 5 frugal things
- Ali Clifford from Incredibusy DIY vegan food wraps
- Kizzy from Simply Kizzy – Sunday Faves
- GrowEatGift – Frugal Friday – Wrap It Up
Thanks so much to all the bloggers for their help! Some great tips for an eco-friendly budget Christmas in these posts!
In summary, 3 of my top tips at this time of year are :
- Come up with a plan to avoid wasting food before you go shoppping! That can include meal planning and freezing leftovers.
- Think twice before buying new clothes or a Secret Santa jumper. Make use of what you already have, or what is available second-hand.
- Don’t give gifts for the sake of it that may end up on eBay a few days later. Give gifts that people actually want and if there is nothing they or you need, consider scaling back the gifts. Plus swap disposable plastic lined wrapping paper for more sustainable and reusable options like Furoshiki.
Thanks for visiting the blog and reading this post about how to have an eco-friendly budget Christmas. Hope it was helpful.
If you want to know more about saving money and the environment in general my book Eco Thrifty Living is a great introduction. It includes a whole section of tips on how to be eco-thrifty at times of special occasions like Christmas.
If you want to listen back to me on Woman’s Hour, I can be found about half way through the show here: BBC Woman’s Hour and they also put up an article on their blog afterwards including tips from me and others on 9 tips for a greener Christmas.