Tips for a greener Christmas

christmas tree
christmas tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Milngavie and Bearsden with the lights and decorations sparkling everywhere, and the shopping frenzy in full swing.

From now through to New Year’s Day, Scots spend more money and generate more waste than at any other time of the year – spelling bad news for our pockets and the environment.

But there are simple ways to minimise your eco-impact without losing the festive spirit.

Scottish Government cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Christmas is a time of celebration and when Scotland’s natural beauty comes into its own. However, we must not forget about the responsibility we have to protect these landscapes and our environment.

“From tonnes of wrapping paper to hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees, greetings cards and leftover food - we generate a lot of waste. With a little planning and forethought, however, we can all make some simple greener changes to reduce waste, preserve Scotland’s environment and still have a great Christmas.”

Tips on having a greener Christmas include:

Sending an e-card instead of a Christmas card to reduce waste. You can download and send easily online – many charities have options on their websites too, so you can still do your bit. Remember to recycle the ones you receive in the post too.

Make your own decorations. If you still need to get busy with the decorating then why not deck the halls with real holly? Decorations can be made from organic, recycled or scrap materials. Try popcorn, holly, seasonal berries, ivy and evergreen branches to create a greener Christmas look.

Avoid food waste. The average family spends £170 on its big Christmas food and drink shop. Only buying what you need means less food will end up in the bin this Christmas. Check what’s in your cupboards and fridge before you shop and make a list of exactly what you need to avoid panic buying. Remember to pop your leftovers in the freezer too.

Switch off your fairy lights. Up to 16 per cent of household electricity is wasted by leaving televisions, sound systems and other appliances on standby.

Buy gifts with minimal packaging that can be reused or recycled. Gift bags are useful as they can be reused again and again.

If you buy a real tree why not buy a live one that’s grown in a pot? After Christmas this can be planted out or kept in its pot outside to be used again each year. If you already have a tree that’s been cut then remember to check your local authority’s arrangements for recycling trees.

Support your local food producers. Scotland has an abundance of fine, fresh in-season produce right on its doorstep. Not only is it tasty but buying it is better for the environment and our economy.

Hit the charity shops. Whether it’s your secret Santa, stocking fillers or even your Christmas party outfit you can find great items at brilliant prices. It’s re-using so it’s greener, will save you money and you’re supporting much-needed causes.

Save and reuse your wrapping paper and carrier bags. You can unwrap your presents carefully and reuse the paper or gift bags next year. Why not create an ‘art box’ to store all your reusable bits and bobs in? Don’t forget to reuse your carrier bags when shopping too.

Pass on your unwanted presents. We all receive at least one unwanted gift at Christmas so why not give it to a good cause instead of throwing it away? You can give to charities or even pop along to your local hospital or hospices.

For more information and further tips go to