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How to have a more sustainable Christmas

The festive break is fast approaching and Sustainability Services wanted to share with you some top tips about how to have a more sustainable Christmas. Many of these tips will also save you money!


  • Think about quality over quantity – every year Christmas does generate many unwanted gifts. If you’re still wondering what to get for someone, why not think about an experience like a night out at the theatre, adopting their favourite animal, buying a subscription to a vegetable box or consider a charity membership such as the National Trust.
  • If you do have unwanted gifts, consider donating them to charity so they can be sold or sell them on a second hand marketplace.
  • Charity shops can be a treasure trove of unusual and different gifts. They support reuse and raise much needed funds for great causes. You never know what you might find! They are also a great source of second hand clothing – a fantastic place to find Christmas clothing for the festive season.

Wrapping and cards

  • If you still have cards to send – consider an E card which is both more sustainable and guaranteed to arrive on time.
  • Try to buy wrapping paper which is packaged without plastic film and is fully recyclable (no glitter) from a FSC source. Even better reuse paper from a previous Christmas or get creative with using fabric wrapping.
  • Plastic tape is not recyclable – try to use paper tape or jute string.


  • Sadly Christmas generates a lot of food waste – it is estimated that 2 million turkeys get wasted every year! Food waste costs money and generates a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Plan you meals over the festive break and only buy what you need.
  • If you do have leftovers – freeze what you can and get creative after Christmas to use up the rest.
  • Think about eating more seasonal vegetables instead of meat.
  • Consider the source of the food you buy – try to buy UK based produce and if possible from a local source.
  • Look out for sustainability certifications such as products containing RSPO certified palm oil, MSC certified sea food and Fairtrade endorsed products who support farmers to have a better quality of life and support their local environment.


  • Reusing what you already have is more sustainable, rather than buying from new.
  • LED lights will save money as they are more efficient.
  • If you plan to buy crackers – look for ones that don’t contain plastic gifts and can be fully recycled after use.

 From everyone at Sustainability Services at the University of Reading – we wish you a restful festive break

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