People at a Christmas market

Christmas market. Photo: Daniil Silantev / Unsplash .

Use a locally grown tree

If possible, buy a tree that was grown locally, then either compost it or plant it so you can reuse it (for this, the root ball still needs to be intact). You can even buy pre-potted trees. If you are dedicated to your artificial tree, you can make it more sustainable by reusing it again every year!

Use LED lights

Christmas lights cause a huge increase in energy consumption. You can even see the lights from space! Cut down on your contribution by switching to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs and reduce the number of Christmas lights you use.

Plan gift shopping ahead of time

Many shoppers will buy online this Christmas, which means lots of deliveries. Help reduce the carbon footprint of this travel by buying from one place and using one delivery or buying less overall. Second-hand shops can also be great for finding unique treasures.

Go vegan!

Reducing meat and dairy is the best way to make your Christmas dinner more sustainable. If this is not for you, choosing white meat such as turkey over red meat or reducing the amount of meat consumed can make a huge difference.


According to UN studies3, 11% of total food produced is lost in household waste. Tackle this by saving your leftovers – there are a number of ways to do this but we suggest freezing leftovers for later and looking up fun recipes to make with them.

Reuse wrapping paper and parcels

In 2018, while 1 million metric tons of paper and card packaging were collected for recycling in the UK, over 400 000 tons of card packaging were not 4. Save your wrapping paper, boxes and bags to use next year to reduce this waste.

Christmas presents wrapped in brown paper

Christmas presents wrapped in brown paper. Photo: Lore Schodts / Unplash .

Learn more about how to have a greener Christmas this year by watching our 2020 Christmas webinar and reading the Q&A.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas Q&A

The event was delivered by the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York , The York Environment Sustainability Institute , SEI and St. Nicks .


  1. WRAP, 2019. Recycling and using up food are as much a part of our Christmas routine as falling asleep in front of James Bond.
  2. The World Bank, 2018. Global Waste to Grow by 70 Percent by 2050 Unless Urgent Action is Taken: World Bank Report.
  3. United Nations, 2014. Stop food loss and waste, for the people, for the planet,
  4. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2019. A greener Christmas is the best present for the environment.