’Tis the Season to Go Sustainable

By Aislinn Redbond, posted 17/12/21

How to do the festive season sustainably...

You could always get your loved ones a Shrub Coop Giftcard (pictured above) to celebrate the season and introduce new people to zero waste living!

Welcome to the festive season, a time of decorating, gift-giving, and mild overindulgence in food, all in the company of our nearest and dearest. Whatever occasion is being celebrated during the winter period, one need only look towards the high street to see the thronging crowds purchasing anything and everything that adorns the festive windows. As the madness of the holiday season descends, the amount households spend within this period ascends, with a total of £21bn expected to be spent during the season. It’s no wonder then that the months October to December are dubbed the ‘Golden Quarter’ - it’s a gold mine for retailers. But what does this mean for our planet and its people?


Getting into the festive spirit often inspires our most creative selves, involving lights, candles and Christmas trees - to name but a few. It is unfortunately all too easy forget that the 8 million trees cut down in the UK alone represents our destructive tendencies more than it represents our creative ones. A huge part of the problem with decorations, and the holiday season in general, is the amount of waste generated. While real trees are more environmentally-friendly than artificial ones, the improper disposal of them can have a significant carbon footprint, and so it is incredibly important to make sure that we recycle our trees once the festive season has passed. In recent years, there has been a growing movement encouraging consumers to rent trees instead of purchasing them, and while this is not yet widely available, it is something to keep an eye out for in the future! Other easy swaps to make include the reuse of last year’s decorations, swapping wax candles for soy ones, and making decorations from leftover materials lying around the house. From paper to fabric decorations, you can find plenty of inspiration and tutorials online - let your imagination run wild!


For many of us, our earliest memories of the winter holidays centre around the excitement of receiving presents. As we get older, this might shift more towards a pressure of giving presents, but either way, gifts still comprise a large part of the holiday season for a large proportion of the UK population. While there can be a sense of joy in choosing the perfect gift for a loved one, all too often, we are pressured by the marketing giants of the world into finding superfluous gifts for everyone in our lives, and this inevitably leads to an excess of consumption and waste. This year, perhaps think of gifting experiences instead of items. After the difficulties of the last few years on the hospitality sector, vouchers to local restaurants and cafes make wonderful presents that help to give back to the community. You could also consider making your own presents, drawing on your more creative talents, or simply come out and ask if there is anything that your partner/friends/family need - that way, you will know that the item is getting used. As far as gift-giving goes, let’s prove that it really is the thought that counts - a thought for our planet! Oh, and ditch the wrapping paper - it does nothing good for our environment.


While the holidays can be a tricky time for many, some of the most common traditions this time of year centre around food. Turkey or ham, pudding versus cake, sprouts or no sprouts - the images of families gathered around tables buckling under the weight of the food are everywhere, including in many homes. In the UK, 80% more food is consumed around Christmas than at any other time in the year. The amount of carbon released in the production of this food, the amount of energy required to prepare it, and the tonnes of waste produced at the end of the season demonstrates just how harmful our overconsumption of food is. So how do we combat this? Firstly, we need to think seriously about how much food we actually require, so as to reduce the amount that goes to waste in the first place. Making small changes, such as choosing more vegetables over meat, or buying only local ingredients, can have a significant impact on our carbon footprint this year too. While adopting zero-waste recipes may seem a bit drastic, learning how to make the most of your ingredients (every element of them) can open up so many new dishes to us, like this recipe.

P.S. Christmas leftovers are my favourite part of Christmas anyway!

This festive season, all of us at Shrub Coop want to wish you a safe, peaceful and relaxing holiday period. We all know how important it is to take a break from the stress of normal life, and so we want to remind you that you don’t need to commit to a zero-waste holiday to prove you care about the planet: every small swap is a step in the right direction. We all deserve some time to recharge and to enjoy ourselves, so whatever holiday you are celebrating, and whoever you are celebrating with, we hope it is a magical time for you and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.