With Christmas nearly here, it’s time to check that you have everything ready for the holidays – including your sustainability practices! With help from some of the fabulous food service businesses we work with, we’ve launched 12 Days of Sustainable Christmas (check it out on Instagram!) – packed with ideas and tips for making the holidays as sustainable as possible:
Day 1: Gift wrapping.
When it comes to gift giving, we know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but making the present look festive is often part of the fun! To ensure that you’re not creating excess waste, here’s a few tips:
- Buy gifts that don’t require further wrapping, or just choose not to wrap them.
- Use reusable wrapping materials, such as cloth.
- Or at least recyclable products, such as brown paper.
- Avoid plastic ribbon and tape, and foil-backed papers or those with glitter which aren’t recyclable.
Day 2: waste less food
The holidays can be especially notorious for this, where it often feels better to have too much food for festive meals rather than too little. To prevent waste, why not try to:Repurpose leftovers into a new dish.
- Pickle vegetables to prolong their life. You can pickle pretty much ANYTHING, which prolongs it’s life! See Conor Spacey’s ‘Empty the fridge kimchi’ to the left.
- Share (or even sell) excess food. The app olio is great for food from home, and Too Good to Go is a fantastic choice for businesses.
Day 3: Gift an experience
Whether it’s gifting your time or a pre-bought experience, it’s a great opportunity to bring people together.
Taking someone to dinner (at a food made good restaurant!) is always a nice option, or perhaps a tour of the beautiful Nutbourne vineyard, or even a cooking class! At The Raymond Blanc Cookery School (pictured to the right) offers inspiring cooking courses for all levels. From children’s courses to residential programmes, there’s something for everyone.
Day 4: Decorate sustainably
When hosting holidays parties and events, keep decorations sustainable by remembering to reduce, reuse, and recycle!
For example, you can make your own decorations with repurposed products, such as these cork baubles from Tredwells. Or, make natural decorations from dried flowers and fruits. Reusable Christmas crackers are also a great way to avoid excess waste – plus you can fill them with whatever you want!
Day 5: Think about your drink
There’s plenty of sustainable beverage options for your festive tipple. From sourcing sustainable spirits (for example, Flor de Cana – pictured), to choosing local and/or organic wine, to making your own liqueurs at home with leftover fruit scraps, there’s lots of ways to keep your drinks eco-friendly. You can also take part in schemes such as Sustainable Wine Solution’s Bottle Return programme, where you can purchase a bottle of wine, drink it, and bring the bottle back next time (and you get a discount off your next purchase!), or use their keg refill services.
Day 6: continue to reuse
With hot drinks season in full swing, remember to bring along your re-usable containers. From mulled wine to hot chocolate, make sure to keep your reusable cup handy so you can stroll around a Christmas market with a warm drink! And for Christmas dinners, it’s always worth bringing your own tupperware so you can take home any leftovers.
Apps like Club Zero can also help finding a sustainable takeaway. You can use the app to find locations offering Club Zero reusable containers, and then when you’re done, return it to a collection point, or even arrange for at-home collection.
Day 7: Make veg a star
Although meat can, and often will, make an appearance at Christmas dinner – it doesn’t need to be the main event. As a diner, opt for vegetarian options. Each year, restaurants are offering even more delicious and creative options for you to choose from. As someone designing the menu (whether you’re a business, or planning to cook a meal in your home), here our are three top tips on making veg shine:
- Remove or reduce meat in a few dishes.
- Experiment with more plant protein in your dishes, and feature more flexitarian dishes on the menu.
- Add new and exciting veg-led options to your menu.
Day 8: source locally
Whether it be for buying food, gifts, decorations, always try to source locally. In addition to the environmental benefits that sourcing locally can have, it also is provides support to the local community and economy.
Farmers markets can be a great place to shop. You can even find gems like this Christmas Pudding from Café St Honore!
Day 9: keep sweets plastic-free
Sweets are a big part of the holidays, but far too often, they come in excess packaging and plastic. A recent study from Which? analysed the UK’s 13 best-selling boxes of chocolates and found that packaging tends to make up almost half of the product’s total weight, and often it is unclear for consumers which parts of the product packaging are and aren’t recyclable.
This year, opt for buying sweets that have minimal packaging, or consider making your own. It’s also a good idea to source locally, from your local bakery or sweet shop. You could even bring your own container to carry them home.
Day 10: make sustainable seafood choices
What’s on your plate has a big impact on the planet and on our ocean. In line with the Marine Conservation Society, here are some top tips on eating fish sustainably:
- Mix it up: 80% of the seafood we eat in the UK is made up of just 5 species, which puts quite a strain on our ecosystems. Try eating a fish that you haven’t tried before! You can also make some really easy swaps that can make a very small difference to the taste of your dish, but a big difference to the environment.
- Avoid red-rated (endangered) fish. Check the Good Fish Guide to make sure you’re making sustainable choices.
- Look out for eco-lables, and stickers that show that your seafood has met different certifications.
Day 11: treat staff fairly
The holidays are often a very busy time of year for all of us, let alone hospitality staff, let alone during a pandemic. Between COVID-19, supply chain issues, staffing struggles, and more, it’s been an undeniably tough year(s) for hospitality staff. Remember to be respectful, patient, and considerate towards each other, and especially staff. When possible, avoid cancellations, and if you do need to cancel, let businesses know in advance. If your plans change and you’re unable to dine out, you can also choose to do a takeaway instead (from the same business).
Day 12: eat food made good
Whether eating out, getting a takeaway, or cooking food at home, remember to use the power of your appetite to keep Christmas sustainable. Choose #foodmadegood restaurants when eating out – so you know you are supporting businesses with sustainability credentials.
And, when you are choosing to eat out, or at home, we hope these ’12 Days of Sustainable Christmas’ tips have helped to guide you in the most sustainable direction.