Dreaming of a green Christmas

Eco expert reveals easy ways to be more sustainable this festive season

  • Reusing cardboard delivery boxes, dressing the house in foliage from the garden and using a timer switch are top ways to be more sustainable this Christmas
  • New research reveals 45 per cent are hoping to make this year’s Yuletide their most sustainable ever despite a quarter saying it’s not possible to have an eco-friendly Christmas
  • More than a third intend to actively avoid plastic packaging, 30 per cent will use recyclable wrapping paper and 44 per cent plan to minimise food waste

An expert has revealed how to have an eco-friendly Christmas without losing the magic as new research finds 62 per cent of Brits think the festive season is bad for the environment.

Mounds of discarded present packaging, masses of uneaten food, waiting in traffic to do your Christmas shop – it isn’t easy being green, especially at this time of year.

Though almost half the nation (45 per cent) are trying to ensure this year’s Yuletide is their most sustainable ever despite a reluctant portion of people (25 per cent) saying it’s not possible to have an eco-friendly Christmas.

But help is at hand – leading sustainability expert, Karen Maurice, has teamed up with cardboard campaign group, Beyond the Box, to come up with several ways to keep your eco-impact to a minimum without making the festive season any less special.

From decorating your home with natural foliage, to shopping second hand and making use of leftover food – there are many ways to make small changes at home that can make a big difference. Suggestions also include reusing old decorations year on year rather than buying new ones and keeping a reusable bag or cardboard box with you when shopping.

Using a timer switch so your decorative lights only come on when it’s dark is another helpful tip, as is reusing cardboard delivery boxes to wrap larger presents – and then recycling them afterwards.

Karen Maurice, N4Mummy, has teamed up with Beyond the Box, which commissioned the research of 2,000 adults. The study found being sustainable this Christmas is one of the biggest priorities for two in five people (38 per cent) – and as a result a third will consider whether the packaging of the present is recyclable, and a similar number will think about where the item was made.

More than a third intend to actively avoid plastic packaging, 30 per cent will use recyclable wrapping paper and 44 per cent plan to minimise food waste.

Karen Maurice said: “Christmas is never as green as we want it to be, but having a sustainable festive season is easier than you might think. I have some helpful pointers which are easy for everyone to replicate, to help make the whirlwind that is Christmas that little bit more eco-friendly. Just a few small changes can make a real difference.”

The research also found that 25 per cent of those polled don’t think it is possible to have a completely green Christmas – although 45 per cent disagree. However, three quarters are adamant that everyone can make a difference – big or small – when comes to having a sustainable festive season. In fact, 57 per cent think an eco-friendly Yuletide would make the day more special because it would be less materialistic.

As such half intend to encourage their friends, family and colleagues to take a stand – and have a truly sustainable festive season – like avoiding unrecyclable packaging and choosing paper-based wrapping paper. Whilst three in 10 will only give presents which will be beneficial to the planet in some way – for instance buying Fairtrade products or making donations to charity.

The Beyond the Box study also found half would like to see an increase in the number of eco-friendly options in shops, whilst five per cent are even going vegan on Christmas day, to do their part in reducing their eco-footprint.

Half would also like there to be more information available on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle. And a third believe local councils could help by expanding the range of household items they recycle.

Andy Barnetson, spokesperson for Beyond the Box, which commissioned the research, comments: “Over the festive season it’s more important than ever for households to prioritise recycling, particularly items like cardboard boxes, which can typically be recycled at least seven times.

“With a recycling rate of over 80%, cardboard has the best recycling rate of any packaging material. To put this into perspective, this rate saves an area of cardboard the size of Greater London from landfill every four months.”



  1. Use recyclable wrapping paper You can check if your wrapping paper is recyclable by doing ‘The Scrunch Test’ – simply scrunch a piece of the paper in the palm of your hand – if the paper remains ‘scrunched’ it is paper-based and widely recycled in the UK. If the wrapping paper unfolds or springs back it cannot be recycled.
  2. Reuse cardboard delivery boxes to wrap larger presents, along with some ribbon for a festive touch – you can recycle the cardboard boxes and reuse the ribbon afterwards, too.
  3. Turn last year’s Christmas cards into this year’s present labels – and recycle them afterwards!
  4. Don’t be afraid to give second-hand presents – a book you really loved reading, or a charity shop toy.
  5. Decorate your space with natural foliage, plus choose a real Christmas tree – they have less of a carbon footprint compared to a fake one. You would have to reuse your artificial tree for 12 years to make it greener than a real tree.
  6. Reuse Christmas decorations year after year – and only buy a couple of new ones to replace any that are broken.
  7. Search second-hand boutiques for your Christmas party outfit and if you do need to buy new, opt for natural fabrics that will biodegrade or fabrics that have been recycled.
  8. Reduce food waste by finding creative ways of using up your Christmas Turkey. It tastes great as a curry, in a pie or even as part of a stir-fry.
  9. Take a reusable bag, tote or even cardboard box with you Christmas shopping to cut down on single use carriers.
  10. Set your Christmas lights up through a timer switch so they only come on as it gets dark outside and don’t run throughout the night. This will not only cut down on energy usage but also help save £s off your energy bill!


About Beyond the Box Bringing together experts from leading UK packaging companies, Beyond the Box, launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries, helps Britons learn more about the nation’s sustainable packaging choice: Cardboard. Visit Cardboard.org.uk for more information.

For more information, including spokesperson requests, please contact Rob Waldon or Sophie Menzies at Richmond & Towers Communications: robwaldon@rtc.london / sophie@rtc.london / 020 7388 7421