10 tips for a green, eco-friendly Christmas & New Year celebration

Want a green, eco-friendly Christmas or New Year celebration or party? Here's 10 tips covering food, drink, transport, glasses, sky lanterns and more.

Christmas baubles

Invitations

Electronic invitations

Nowadays so much communication is via electronic methods so why not send electronic invitations. If you want something more visual you can get free Christmas invitations from companies such as Evite and Paperless Post.

Paper invitations

If only paper invitations will do, use recycled paper or FSC paper. A lovely idea is to use plantable seed paper which is recycled paper embedded with seeds, normally wildflower seeds. So your guests not only receive an invite to your party but they can also plant the paper in their garden and wait for the wildflowers to grow. You can buy plantable seed paper in various forms from Wild about Paper and various sellers on Etsy. Some papers can be printed on too or you can write on them by hand.

Transport

Encourage guests to use walk, cycle or public transport, if possible. If the venue isn't accessible by bus or train organise a coach or minibus to pick people up or suggest people car share which also sorts out the issue of the designated driver. All options will help you cut carbon emissions.

Drink

Local and organic drinks are the most eco-friendly and the range of organic alcohol is getting better and here are some places to start you off:

Organic real ale

  • Atlantic Brewery, Cornwall – has a great selection of organic real ale. The Atlantic Gold Organic Pale Ale Spiced with Ginger sounds lovely.
  • If you prefer to have a choice of beers from various breweries Planet Organic have a selection of organic real ales to buy online.
  • Liverpool Organic Breweryavailable from shops in the Liverpool / Manchester area but also a few further south but if you live further south than Shrewsbury you're out of luck.
  • Natural Collection have a case of 20 organic ales for £60 which contains 5 bottles of each of the following: Stroud ‘Budding' Ale, Samuel Smiths Pale Ale , Vintage Roots Organic Beer and Celt Experience Brewery – Bronze Ale.
  • Stroud Brewery have an online shop and a special Christmas porter.
  • Black Isle Brewery in Scotland also have an online shop and a special Rudolf the Red-nosed Reinbeer selection.

Craft beer

Flavourly run a craft beer discovery club where you get a monthly delivery to your door but you can also make one-off purchases from their online selection of craft beers.

Organic cider

  • Natural Collection have a case of 20 organic ciders for £60 which you can order online and contains 5 of each of the following ciders: Dunkertons Premium Cider, Westons  Wyld Wood Cider, Sheppy's Cider and Dunkertons Black Fox.
  • Planet Organic sell a selection of organic cider in their online shop.
  • Cyderstore.co.uk have a large selection of cider from independent cider and perry producers in the UK. They're not all organic but it's a great place to support independent businesses.
  • Vintage Roots sell organic wine and cider and stock brands such as Dunkerton's, Dorset Nectar and Ashridge.

Organic wine

  • Planet Organic have a choice of organic, fair trade and vegetarian wine.
  • Vintage Roots sells organic wine along with beer, cider and spirits.

Avoid sky lanterns and balloon releases

Sky lanterns (or Chinese lanterns) and helium balloons have been on the news this year as causing fires and the death of farm animals who have accidentally eaten them. Some companies sell so-called environmentally-friendly sky lanterns and balloons but they can't really be considered to be eco-friendly when they can still cause as much harm as their not-so-green equivalents. Would you throw a box of deflated balloons into a field or the sea? I thought not but this is what you are in effect doing if you release sky lanterns or balloons – it's just a form of littering. Help spread the word about the dangers by telling your friends and family. (Read my post Dangers of chinese sky lanterns and balloon releases for more info and alternatives to sky lanterns.)

Crockery, glassware and cutlery

When it comes to plates, glasses and cutlery, the best thing for the environment is to avoid single-use items and choose re-usable products.

  • If you haven't got enough, ask to borrow some from friends and neighbours or ask guests to bring them with them.
  • Worried about breakages? Buy some cheap second-hand items from your local charity shop or use durable items made from bamboo such as Kyoto's bamboo plates. If you don't want to keep the charity shop items, you can return them to the shop once you've finished with them.
  • If you really can't face washing-up and want disposable plates, avoid traditional plastic and check out some of the biodegradable and compostable products available now which are made from materials such as bamboo, sugar cane and bio plastic, such as these disposable biodegradable plates which can be used in the microwave and fridge.
  • Choose paper or bamboo straws rather than plastic ones.
  • Vegware have a wide range of compostable products made from plants.

Napkins

Use cloth napkins or serviettes or if it has to be disposable then buy some made from recycled materials such as these Renova Green 100% Recycled Paper Napkins (only £0.79 for 70 napkins).

Food

Shop local to reduce your carbon footprint and food miles whilst also supporting local, independent businesses. We like to buy seasonal produce from our local farm shop or farmers' market.  If you can buy organic produce, even better! I find going to our local farmers' market just before Christmas is more of an event with live festive music and stalls selling hot cider and mulled wine.

Leftover food

  • Try to work out exactly how much food you need before you go shopping and not buy extra.
  • Ask guests to RSVP so you know exactly how many people you need to cater for.
  • If you end up with leftover food, don't just throw it away. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for recipes, tips and advice to reduce waste and save yourself money too. Cranberry and turkey pasties and turkey and sprout hash are just two ideas to help you use up those Christmas leftovers.

Recycling and rubbish

Provide a range of bins for guests so rubbish and recycling is separated during the party and not left to you to sort out the next day when you're feeling worse for wear. If you do composting, put out a food caddy or compost bin too.

Candles

Choose ones made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax. Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment. M&J London have a lovely range of fragranced candles in glassware that you can re-use as a tumbler. Read my review to find out more.

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