Top tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Sustainable Christmas tree decorations

How to be sustainable this Christmas

Struggling to be sustainable over the holidays? Whether you want to avoid waste, give plastic the cold shoulder or just want to get a bit creative over the festive period, we've put together a few top tips to make your Christmas even greener this year.

Family shopping for Christmas trees

1. Choose a British-grown Christmas tree

As well as looking beautiful and smelling even better, British-grown Christmas trees are good for the planet and have a lower carbon footprint than most artificial trees. During the 8-10 years your British-grown Christmas tree will have taken to grow, it will have acted as a carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen.

Check out our map to find your nearest Forestry England tree shop.

2.    If you want to go that little bit extra, opt for a potted tree

Grown to around three to four feet tall, potted trees may be smaller than your typical Christmas tree but they can literally last a lifetime. Once they’ve been the focal point of your living room for the holiday season, potted trees make fantastic patio plants with a little love and care.

Or, if you have enough garden space, plant your tree to grow and thrive after the holidays – it’ll also help provide food for wildlife like siskins, who love to eat seeds from spruce trees.


Forestry Commission staff inspecting trees for aphids

3.    Re-use Christmas decorations and avoid single-use ornaments 

For many, unboxing and dusting off Christmas decorations marks the start of the holiday season. It’s also a great time to get the whole family involved by making your own decorations.

If you do need to top up your collection, choose sustainably sourced decorations and avoid lametta (single thread) tinsel which isn’t recyclable, can be difficult to remove from branches, and can pose a hazard to pets who might get tangled in it or swallow it. If you're feeling creative, why not try making your own?

4.    Choose certified Christmas cards and wrapping paper

A sustainable Christmas doesn’t have to stop at your family’s tree, it’s also about the many trees around the world that have gone into making Christmassy products like wrapping paper, as well as Christmas cards – a whopping 1 billion of which are sold in the UK each year.

Look for the FSC® or PEFC logos when you shop to know wood products come from well-managed forests and other controlled sources. Consider giving old magazines or newspaper a second life as Christmas wrapping paper too, and make sure to recycle everything when you’re done!

Wrapping a christmas present with decorations
Close Up Christmas tree pines

5.    Recycle your tree

There’s nothing sadder than the sight of a real Christmas tree in a plastic bin bag on the curb, ready to go to landfill after the holidays. After the last decoration has been taken down and thoughts of Christmas are a distant memory, visit your local authority website or Recycle Now to find out how to recycle your tree.

Many local authorities offer a drop-off or curbside tree recycling service, so your tree can be put to good use by being chipped and used locally. 

6. Give the gift of experience 

We all love giving and receiving Christmas presents, but the sheer amount of 'stuff', often plastic, that we end up with post-Christmas can be a little overwhelming. This year, invest in gifts that are a little kinder to our planet. 

Forget giving ‘stuff’ and give the joy of making forest memories instead. Our Memberships provide a full year of outdoor adventures for the whole family to enjoy. Or, if you’re searching for an ideal gift for someone special, a Membership will give them time out to enjoy their favourite forest activities.

Forestry England Membership card on a wooden trunk

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