Tips for reducing waste this Christmas


“Over the festive season the UK creates 30% more waste than usual, including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees”


Christmas, although mostly merry and joyful, can be a wasteful time of year. Over the festive season the UK creates 30% more waste than usual, including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees - not to mention enough wrapping paper to go round the equator nine times!

Many of us tend to indulge in a little more food, a little more entertainment and often a lot more spending in general, around the festive season. And whilst it’s fun, and easy, to get carried away with the celebrations, it’s important to think about the small changes we can make to avoid unnecessary waste at this time of year.

So whilst we know it’s almost impossible to do everything at once, here are a few of our tips for reducing waste and enjoying an ethical Christmas.


When it comes to buying Christmas cards the most obvious change to make is avoiding the plastic packaging cards usually come wrapped in. You can commonly avoid this buy shopping at local, independent shops or with local artists that you can buy from directly. You can also buy boxes of cards that come in cardboard rather than plastic which is economical too.

If you’re keen to take the next step then try to only buy cards that have been made from recycled materials.

And if you’re feeling creative, try buying recycled card and making your own Christmas cards.

Wrapping paper

There are a couple of options when it comes to wrapping paper, the most obvious being not using it at all but that does takeaway a little of the Christmas magic so here are the next best options:

  1. Craft paper that is recyclable/degradable and made from FSC certified materials

  2. Reuse cut offs from last year

  3. Retro paper from eBay, there’s a surprising amount of vintage wrapping paper out there

  4. Reusable materials. Furoshiki, an ancient Japanese method to wrap with linen, is the perfect way to avoid unnecessary paper

  5. You can also get cut offs of ribbon from material shops to tie your gifts together

Christmas trees

A natural Christmas tree probably doesn’t seem too harmful. But whilst a fake tree will inevitably end up in landfill, real trees require many years of growth and therefore many years of water, pesticides and minerals from the soil. This makes them a lot less ‘green’ than first thought. Luckily there are a number of options when it comes to Christmas trees to avoid waste and harming the environment.

  1. Buy a sustainable tree. The Forestry Commission in England have a list of Christmas tree growers with sustainably grown, real trees. You can use the list to find a tree that’s near you

  2. Buy an organic tree. Less earth damaging pesticides

  3. Buy a potted tree. If you’ve got a garden this is a great option. You can buy a potted tree to have inside over Christmas and then come January you can put it outside where it will live happily until next year

  4. Recycle your tree. Real trees are recyclable and can be shredded into chippings which are then used locally in parks or woodland areas. You can find out more from your local authority or find a local recycling station near you

  5. Compost your Christmas tree. The ‘Can I compost this?’ website have some great tips on how to compost your tree and the effects it will have on your soil

  6. Avoid buying a fake tree. According to The Epoch Times, they’re generally made from “petrochemicals, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), metals, and sometimes even lead” AND they can’t be recycled

  7. Rent a Christmas tree. There plenty of organisations that will let you rent a Christmas tree for the festive season that they will then collect, put back in the field and look after until next year

Buy less, buy better

Whether it’s food, gifts or decorations, opting for quality over quantity will help to make sure you’re buying products that are better for you and the planet.


  1. Buy your meat from a local farm or butcher instead of the supermarkets

  2. Try making mince pies instead of buying the ones that come in a plastic tray

  3. Eat seasonally, instead of buying vegetables that have been flown half way around the world find out what’s seasonal and local where you are. This is both a more ethical approach as well as being good for your health


  1. Shop small, try visiting local markets with independent traders

  2. Shop online via small independent online stores. Or, try Instagram, which we’ve found to be a great place to discovering new, ethical brands

  3. Our gift guide. An ethical Christmas gift guide, thoughtfully curated from the brands that make up the More This. Less That. community


  1. Try to avoid plastic decorations

  2. Reuse your decorations from last year and try to avoid buying new ‘on trend’ decorations each year

  3. If you do need a few extra baubles for the tree there are often some beautiful recycled options to be found like these from Rowen & Wren

  4. Take a little inspiration from nature. From pine cones to holly and broken branches to ivy nature is a full of bits and pieces that can make our homes feel more festive. For inspiration on bringing nature into your home you can follow the hashtag #natureinthehome on Instagram

Craft your own

There is little quite as thoughtful as a homemade gift, and there are lots of ideas out there to inspire you. From making your own Sloe Gin to putting together a hamper of local finds, making your own gifts is a great way to reduce waste and give something that’s truly unique.

Christmas jumpers

The Christmas jumper tradition started from a good place–Christmas Jumper Day was initially created to support UK charity Save The Children and whilst the campaign is a great way to increase awareness, wearing Christmas jumpers in December has sadly has become a trend that leads to an enormous amount of waste. A quarter of Christmas jumpers were worn once and discarded last year and no doubt the same will happen this year.

So, whilst we want to support the work that Save The Children do we also want to reduce the waste caused by this growing trend. Our suggestions are:

  1. Borrow a jumper. If you need to wear your Christmas jumper to an office party borrow one from a friend who has their work event is on a different date

  2. Buy second hand. eBay, charity shops, vintage shops, friends… there are endless options when it comes to finding a second-hand jumper and it’s a great way to reduce waste

  3. Buy high-quality. If you’re not trying to win the ‘most-outrageous’ award at work then finding a festive, but not overly garish, jumper that you can wear on other occasions and keep for next year is a good option

  4. Skip the tradition completely. If wearing a Christmas jumper isn’t really your thing but you would like to support Save The Children then perhaps give the money you would have spent on a jumper straight to the organisation itself

Give back

Whilst it’s nice to indulge in a little too much food in the company of our loved ones there are many out there that are not as fortunate. Through out the year supporting charities that help those in need is important but Christmas can be an especially difficult time for organisations that are overstretched.

  1. Ask for donations to a charity instead of presents this year

  2. Volunteer for a local charity

  3. Volunteer to spread awareness for animal charities - ‘A pet is for life, not just for Christmas’

No matter how you spend the festive season, there are always things you can do to reduce your impact and add spread kindness.

Do let us know how you get on by tagging us in your festive photos. @morethis_lessthat

Rachael Cooney