Can Christmas be both magical and sustainable?

* 2 min read
Now that we’re in November and the Christmas countdown has started earlier than usual for many of us as a hopeful light at the end of lockdown #2, can we balance the sparkle of Christmas with sustainability?

We all know that Christmas might be a bit different this year, but I’m sure we all want to make it as special as possible. Nothing makes me happier than Christmas tunes, sparkly lights, wrapping presents and seeing joy in the faces of people I love. However, I’m sure I’m not alone in the dread of having to dispose of mountains of packaging and wrapping paper in the aftermath of the excitement. Thankfully with the huge effort in recent years, the vast majority of packaging is now recyclable so at least I can dispose of it with a clear conscience, but what about glittery wrapping paper, Christmas crackers (and their contents) and not forgetting the dreaded single-use plastic?

Will Christmas be the same without glitter? Well we might just find out this year with many retailers removing glitter from their own brand Christmas ranges including cards, crackers, wrapping paper and gift bags. Most major retailers have been very aware of the pollution impact of glitter for some time and many moved to ‘eco glitter’ in previous years. However, recent studies carried out by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge have questioned the effects of ‘eco glitter’ on our environment and this has sparked many to simply remove it completely from their shelves.

morrisonsplasticglitter151020Morrisons are completely removing glitter from their own brand ranges including flowers, plants and wreaths and also making their Christmas crackers plastic-free, with paper, metal and wooden toys inside them instead. Although there are usually fun toys / gifts inside a cracker, how many actually last beyond the dinner table? I won’t lie, I’ve always bought crackers and I will still buy them this year - but this year it will be with increased consideration on waste. This Christmas, I’ll be filling the crackers on my dinner table myself, with personalised gifts to make them extra special.

Boots have also taken a responsible approach and removed single-use plastic packaging this year and importantly, their gift packaging is intended to either be recycled or reused. This is a direct response to customer demand and it is echoed through their customers searching for ecologically friendly products on its website, which has increased by almost a third this year.

So, Christmas 2020 may not be filled with parties and big gatherings, and we will miss those things way more than the glitter and plastic. Some changes need to be big for the packaging industry to tackle the shift to responsible packaging, but others can be small. If we think about waste when we buy gifts, from glitter to single-use packaging, maybe we can all have an impact and still make Christmas magical without leaving a legacy of pollution.