The Sustainable Christmas Handbook

The festive season is well and truly upon us, and traditionally, Christmas can be a time of overconsumption, excess and waste. In 2020, we've all learned to slow down, stay home and reconnect with what really matters, so it's more important than ever to try and make this Christmas as sustainable as possible. Here, explore our top tips on making a positive impact on people and the planet over the holidays.

Shop small

2020 has been a really hard year for small businesses. While Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth almost double this year, many small business owners are struggling to make ends meet. Christmas is the perfect chance to show your support for independent and sustainable brands instead!

You can check out some great small business shopping ideas via the hashtag #ShopEthicalInstead, and of course, head over to our online shop for 100% natural, vegan eyewear handcrafted from hemp fibre right here in Edinburgh. Make sure to act fast, as small businesses need a longer period to produce, pack and deliver products, and shipping services are busier than ever during lockdown.

Waste less


From food and packaging waste to Christmas trees and wrapping paper, it's easy to see an excess of waste pile up in December. Here are four easy ways to waste less this festive season:

  1. Plan your food shop
    It may sound boring, but planning out the meals and snacks you'll be making over the Christmas period can help prevent buying too much and throwing away food. You can compost any food waste too, or save your meat and veggie scraps to make soups and stocks.

  2. Choose a sustainable Christmas tree
    Source your Christmas tree from a sustainable and responsibly managed forest, or even try renting a tree this year. If you choose to buy an artificial plastic tree, make sure to take care of it to keep it in use and out of landfill for many years.

  3. Try zero-waste gift wrap
    Wrapping paper and ribbons can be difficult to recycle. You can choose a recyclable paper brand, or even use reusable fabric or newspaper alongside naturally sourced decorations for a DIY effect.

  4. Skip the novelty gifts
    It can be fun to get silly games, toys, clothes or other novelty items in your Christmas stocking, but many of these gifts simply end up in the bin. Instead, opt for thoughtful, ethical and long-lasting gifts, or make your own.

Think local

Whether you're able to travel to see loved ones or not this year, your carbon footprint can still suffer from the mileage used to ship gifts and food all around the world. 

That's why one of the best sustainable steps you can take this festive season  is to shop local. Choose locally grown, organic food for your Christmas dinner, support local businesses for your gifts and decorations, wear locally made clothing and support your local community too.

Our consumption of food, travel, electricity and gifts creates an average of 650 kg of CO2 per person - about the same as the weight of 1,000 Christmas puddings! You can calculate your carbon footprint and offset your emissions using this handy tool.

Give back

The pandemic has caused mass unemployment, accelerated loneliness and mental health problems, and exposed social inequalities. Now more than ever, it's important to give back so that those less fortunate can also enjoy the festivities. You can use this Christmas as an opportunity to support good causes that align with your values by donating money, time or resources to charity, or even donate in someone's name to give a philanthropic gift.

Here are some brilliant charities to support this year: 

  • Trussell Trust is a UK-wide network of food banks. There has been an 18% increase in food bank use since 2019 - make a donation to help now. You can also support Empty Kitchens Full Hearts here in Edinburgh to provide free hot meals to anyone who needs them.
  • ShelterSocial Bite and Crisis are homelessness charities in the UK that offer support to anyone without a permanent home. In the cold winter months, it is vital that no one is forced to sleep rough on the streets - donate to make a difference.
  • Christmas can be a really difficult time for mental wellbeing, particularly during lockdown. Mind is a mental health charity that provides a wide range of psychological support, and Beat supports those suffering with eating disorders too. 

If you'd like to support environmental causes this Christmas too, why not send a donation to Friends of the Earth, Marine Conservation Society, Climate Emergency Fund, Rainforest Trust, Plastic Pollution Coalition or Greenpeace?


Still looking for Christmas present ideas? Purchase a Hemp Eyewear gift card here to give the gift of custom-made, 100% natural eyewear.