Saturday, May 25Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Happy ‘Sustainable’ Holidays

Finn Murphy

Throughout the festive period, we create, on average, 30% more waste than at any other time of the year. Specifically, in the UK, this amounts to around 3 million tonnes of additional rubbish. This year, in particular, we have all been through a lot, but that does not mean we can neglect other world issues. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle in a fast-moving society is a lot more difficult than it seems, but here are some helpful tips and tricks to make this holiday season more sustainable. 

  1. Try alternatives to the traditional wrapping paper:

Whilst many of us may not realise this, most wrapping paper is not recyclable because it is lined with plastics. Additionally, glitter-encrusted paper is even worse as the glitter is made from tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the oceans, causing life-threatening problems for marine animals. Instead try brown paper, which can be recycled, or use fabrics like scarves to wrap up a gift and make the gift wrap a part of the present. You could even use old newspapers, giving them a second shot at life. Giving up wrapping paper might mean that under your tree isn’t as pretty as usual, but it will reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

  1. Find reusable items to replace your one-use ‘essentials’:

At this time of year, we end up with a multitude of leftovers, but this year, try and find different ways of storing that food. Everyone loves a bit of cling film to keep something fresh, but why not invest in some reusable plate covers? Food is a major part of Christmas and we don’t want any of it to go to waste, so use Tupperware instead of wrapping it in that single-use plastic. Remember, these alternatives can be used all year round as well!

  1. Send e-cards:

If you’re like me and still enjoy sending Christmas cards, then why not try sending as many as you can over an email. Obviously, you can still send a few to a select number of people, but if you’re looking to wish someone a ‘Happy Holidays’ whilst still being eco-friendly, then why not try using an email or a text to send that card.

  1. Or send a plantable card:

You may have seen these on TikTok, but if an e-card isn’t good enough, then try a plantable card. These seeded cards are made from plantable paper, which is created using post-consumer materials and adding seeds to it. When the card is planted in soil, the seeds grow into a plant and the paper just composts. This is also a great gift for the plant-lover in your life!

  1. Shop locally this holiday season:

Living sustainably isn’t just about the environment. Many small businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic and they need your help to get back on their feet. By shopping locally this year, we can create a more sustainable economy, as the money keeps circulating within your local economy! So instead of using those massive corporations that offer next day delivery, try buying that last minute gift on the high street this year and you’ll even be helping the environment along the way!

Let’s all pull together this year and try our hand at some of these tips. Some are easier than others but get creative with it! You could even try making your own seeded card or using a tea towel to wrap a present or two. Have a Happy ‘Sustainable’ Holidays!