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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Sustainable Branding and Promotional Ideas for Christmas

Once upon a time, it was a white Christmas we were all dreaming of. These days, with the stark warnings of climate change, we’re keen for a greener one. And good news is, it’s much easier than you might think to have a planet-friendly December.

From plastic-free crackers to recycled wrapping paper, here we bring you a hit list of brands that’ll give you a cracking Christmas, plus peace of mind you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Read our handy guide for a festive period that’s more eco-friendly than ever…

Image of a green Santa on wheels

1. Christmas Tree Rental

This is one eco-friendly trend that’s gaining real traction in the UK. People are renting a fir for the festive period to help reduce the staggering 7 million trees that end up in landfill every year. The way it works is simple – find a local supplier, book and pay for tree hire, and either collect it or have it delivered. Then come January you simply return it to the farm where it’ll be replanted and left to grow ready for the following Christmas.

Brand to try: There are lots of places popping up all over the UK. One that caught our eye is Cotswold Fir in Gloucester whose motto is simple ‘A tree is for life, not just for Christmas’. You can even name the tree and rent the same one year after year.

2. Eco-friendly Christmas Decorations

If you’re going as far as renting a sustainable Christmas tree, chances are you won’t want to smother it in plastic baubles or wrap the rest of your house in non-recyclable tinsel. If you’re feeling crafty, make your own decs using everything from pretty festive paper to gingerbread and foraged-for berries, mistletoe and holly. Or check out the raft of companies selling sustainable decorations that’ll make your home sparkle and the planet breathe a sigh of relief.

Brand to try: Protect the Planet sells all sorts of ethically-made decorations, including handmade, plastic-free baubles and recycled bunting.

3. Sustainable Presents

Appetite is growing for zero-waste living, which basically means you send virtually no rubbish to landfills or incinerators. So it makes sense that zero-waste gifts are cropping up on people’s gift lists this year. Lots of companies sell ready-made kits themed around things like personal care, shopping or dining. Plus, people are getting creative, putting together their own sustainable Christmas hampers packed with things like bamboo utensils, vegan food wraps and reusable shopping totes.

Brand to try: Global WAKEcup. This company inspires people to live a more eco-friendly, low-waste life, plus it donates 10% of all its profits to the Marine Conservation Society. Its gift range includes everything from personalised bamboo water bottles to food huggers (yep, they’re a thing) by way of reusable kitchen roll and plastic-free shampoo kubes.

4. Recycled Wrapping Paper

Research suggests we throw away an estimated 277,000 miles of wrapping paper in the UK each Christmas. And that super shiny, glittery stuff you love to see sparkling under the tree? It’s the worst offender as it can’t be recycled. Good news is, loads of companies are now selling recycled wrapping paper that can wind up back in the recycling bin, plus a huge range of eco-friendly tags, bows and ribbons.

Brand to try: Re-wrapped. There isn’t a box their wrapping paper doesn’t tick – it’s made from 100% recycled paper which hasn’t been bleached, it’s printed using environmentally-friendly vegetable-based inks, and it’s designed and printed in the UK.

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5. Plantable Christmas Cards

The GWP Group suggests that up to 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in UK bins – the equivalent of 33 million trees. So it’s no surprise people are looking for alternative options, like donating to charity instead of sending cards, or opting for the less personal, more planet-friendly e-card. If you’re a traditionalist who wants to keep on sending cards, choose ones that are recyclable and plastic-free. Plantable cards are rapidly climbing the popularity polls, too.

Brand to try: The Seed Card Company scores highly on the sustainability front – its seed-embedded cards are 100% biodegradable and printed with vegan-friendly ink, and its envelopes are made entirely from post-consumer waste.

6. Ethical Christmas Crackers

In the last few years, these once seemingly innocent table decorations have plummeted in popularity. It’s estimated more than 40 million crackers are binned on December 25th along with the single-use plastic junk inside. Instead, people are starting to favour alternatives, like reusable cloth crackers or plastic-free ones that are 100% recyclable.

Brand to try: RSPB.Yes really. Their crackers are made from recycled paper from a sustainable source, and all the components are recyclable, including the plastic-free packaging they come in. Gifts inside include wooden Christmas tree decs and Fairtrade chocolate.

7. Sustainable Christmas hampers

This one’s a great choice for the eco-conscious foodie in your life – a hamper well stocked with vegan goodies, Fairtrade products and environmentally-friendly options. You can choose ready-made boxes or have fun picking and mixing a range of festive treats.

Brand to try: Social Stories Club is a sustainable online gift company that supports over 30 social enterprises around the UK. Every product in its festive gift boxes tells a story, from the traditional farmhouse cheese biscuits made entirely from renewable energy to the apple and cranberry relish that fights food waste by using wonky apples that would otherwise go to landfill.

8. Alternative Secret Santa

How often have you worn the novelty elf ears for the duration of your office party, only to bin them straight afterwards? What started out as a bit of a laugh has turned into one of the biggest waste generators of Christmas. But there are lots of ways to up Secret Santa’s eco-credentials. Get everyone to write a colleague a voucher promising a treat like lunch out or Friday cocktails. Ask staff to wield a whisk for a festive bake-off. Or set the theme of sustainability and see who comes up with the best ideas.

Brand to try: Ungifted Secret Santa is a free platform where you and your workmates can gift each other nice surprises instead of tat that’s destined for landfill. Options include personalised Spotify playlists, a month of funny memes or Post-It compliments.

More Top Tips For A Sustainable Christmas…

As well as choosing eco-friendly brands, there’s a stack of other things you can do to have a greener Christmas

✔ THINK pre-loved for your gifts. Head for a vintage shop and choose family and friends a pre-loved bag, item of clothing or a one-off piece of furniture. Alternatively, think about an animal adoption or a gift experience as a way of cutting back on the usual present overload.

DITCH the disposable plastic advent calendar and go for a reverse advent calendar instead. The idea is simple – you get a cardboard box or a bag and, every day in December, you add an item such as tinned food or toiletries. Just before Christmas, you drop it off at your local homeless shelter.

SWAP your traditional turkey for a plant-based Christmas dinner. The livestock industry generates nearly 15% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, so cutting meat from your diet – even if it’s just now and again – is good for the planet, not to mention your health.

REPLACE your incandescent fairy lights for LED ones. LED lights use up to 80% less energy. Or to put it another way, if every household in the UK swapped a string of lights for its LED equivalent it’d save more than £11 million and 29,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 12 days of Christmas.

STEER clear of single-use. Tablecloths, napkins, plastic cutlery, paper plates… it’s so easy to create a tonne of waste without even realising it at Christmas. Instead, go for items that you can re-use every year. You can even wrap your presents in cloth that can be used again and again.

SET up a swap shop to find your perfect party outfit. Invite friends and family over for a night of trying and not buying. Swapping your party gear will save you a fortune and win you plenty of points on the sustainable fashion front.

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