Oh, Sustainable Christmas!

Five ways to have environmentally friendly christmas holidays

Christmas is just around the corner and it is high time for preparations. The tree has to be bought, the last presents are still missing and the dinner has to be planned. But even if it is the most wonderful time of the year, it is not the most sustainable one – until now.

In this article we show you five ways to make this Christmas unforgettably beautiful and eco friendly at the same time.

The tree

A Christmas without a Christmas tree is hard to imagine. And no, nobody wants to deprive you of the pleasure of looking at the tree with a glass of eggnog in your hand. But there are alternatives to store bought trees.

In any case, you should look out for the common fair and organic labels when buying. Besides, it does not always have to be the classic Nordmann fir, which is often imported. Domestic and more sustainable conifers in Germany are also flawless Christmas trees, such as Douglas fir, spruce, pine or silver fir. Many foresters or farmers also offer to fell trees themselves or buy them directly on their land during the Advent season.

If you are already thinking about how the tree will disappear again after the feast, you can let this worry be taken care of right along with the tree. More and more suppliers are offering Christmas trees for rent – before Christmas the tree is delivered in a pot and then picked up again.

One example here is the company WunderTree, which brings the tree of your Christmas dreams in a pot, picks it up again and then replant it in the forest – this saves 100 percent of the emissions that would otherwise be produced, as the regular Christmas tree is burned after the festivities.

Picture: Erik McLean

The decoration

The core element of every tree and the Christmas atmosphere remain the candles and lights. When buying candles, look out for the RAL Quality Mark (https://www.ral-guetezeichen.de/en/ ), which sets health and environmental limits. Candles made of bee or soy wax are also a great alternative.

And those who are interested in a sustainable solution but not in a specimen with a specified fragrance can breathe a sigh of relief: Candles made of natural wax plus synthetic fragrances can help along here, such as the chemical-free and 100% natural and regional candles from emy.

If you want to have additional string lights such as fairy lights to decorate your tree or home you should consider buying LEDs, which consume up to 90% less electricity and last up to 20 times longer. Anyone who wants to create a candle-like atmosphere with electric lights should pay attention to a colour temperature of 2200 Kelvin. That’ s warm and has almost no influence on the environment and animals.

Another classic is tinsel, which is not only difficult to reuse, it often contains tinfoil, which means it has to be disposed of at the recycling centre. Other tree decorations, such as coated ornaments, are also not ecological.

But don’t worry, there are alternatives: dried orange slices, straw ornaments, fir cones or fabric ribbons instead of tinsel and co.


The gifts

It may sound tempting to rummage through the department stores and scroll through the internet. But are the 500 euros per capita spent on Christmas presents in Germany this year, according to the statistics platform Statista, worth it if they are thoughtless items?

Apart from environmentally friendly Christmas presents, such as an indoor garden from Berlin Green, called GreenBox (https://berlingreen.com/collections/all) or sustainable shirts made from no longer needed bed sheets from luxury hotels, like those of Archivist.

Nevertheless, one gift remains unbeaten: time together – that is something many people can use most after last year. A shared experience, such as a wellness or beach weekend, or – when things get going again – a concert by your favourite artist.
And for those who are not allowed to celebrate with you under the tree, instead of the usual revolving stand cards, there are reusable ones – but in a different way. The highlights are plantable Christmas cards, which are planted after they have been among the presents over the Christmas days.

Picture: Matthias Cooper

The gift wrapping

Clearly, if you do choose to give a smaller gift this year such as a voucher, you will need less wrapping paper. But even with less paper, it is worth taking a look at the details. Fair and recycled gift wrapping is no longer a rarity. If you pay attention to this when buying, you can wrap with a better conscience. If the paper does not meet your colour requirements, fir branches or pine cones can also be an option as gift decoration.

If you want to do without paper altogether, you can leave it at decorations with a bow or packing it in a reusable box. By the way, it is particularly sustainable to unwrap the gifts carefully so that every gift wrapping paper can be reused.

The food

As so often, the best comes last: Christmas and good food go hand in hand and here too there are sustainable options.

In the beginning comes all of the small shopping, like the chocolate Santa in an aluminium coat. Even though he is a classic, his packaging makes him all the less sustainable. Fair and vegan chocolate, nuts and mandarins offer a healthy and conscientious way out.

Not to be forgotten are the biscuits. Bought are always good but home-made are always better and more environmentally friendly, as no industrial ingredients are usually added. And the dinner?

Well, of course you may have a special recipe in mind but try to buy everything as regional and of high quality as possible. Or you can leave it to those who do it anyway. Like the food delivery service Every. Here you can choose your plant-based and environmentally friendly dishes, have everything delivered frozen and cook it at the desired time. Et voila, a perfectly sustainable Christmas dinner.

Picture: Libby Penner

by Maximilian Immer

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