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A greener festive season

13 December 2018

Five conscious Christmas decisions that we can all adopt…

It's the most wonderful time of the year (cue Michael Buble)...twinkling lights, wrapping presents, mince pies, festive films, family reunions, novelty jumpers and spending time with the ones we love most.

Amongst the madness, it's easy to get caught up in the buying, shopping, and eating without realising the impact that it's having on our planet. This year join us in having a more conscious Christmas and try out these five ways to have a greener festive season.

branch and decorations
We've decorated a large (felled) silver birch twig and decorated it with handmade wooden decorations for a rustic, modern Christmas aesthetic.

1. Christmas Trees

Real, artificial or alternative?


Whilst bringing home a real Christmas tree is a favourite tradition of many, over 8 million trees are bought every December in the UK alone and subsequently thrown out every January.

If you’re looking to get a real tree this year make sure it’s been grown sustainably and not in a way that causes damage to the environment. Look for ethical growers and Christmas trees approved by the Soil Association – which are organic and pesticide free.

Better still – purchase a potted tree that you can bring inside year after year and then plant in your garden again come January. Less environmental impact and less expense. Win win.


Since plastic trees take an enormous amount of energy to manufacture, a real Christmas tree seems like the most sustainable decision to make - but this isn’t always the case. If you already own an artificial tree: keep using it. Make it last as long as possible. There’s no point throwing away your artificial tree just to go and purchase a fresh tree every year.
However, if you're set on ditching the plastic this year, looking into ‘recycling your tree’ by re-homing it via a friend or a site such as Freecycle etc.


If you have an artificial tree or, are yet to purchase your annual real Christmas tree, this option is for you.

If you don’t already own one, get a large perennial house plant and decorate it in the same way you would your usual tree. Look for a plant that suits the climate of your home and you can continue to nurture long after the festive period is over – one such as a rubber plant, cheese plant, fig, yucca or palm. Decorating your house plants is a slightly more non-traditional approach but adds an equal amount of festive cheer to your space.

Not just for the front door. Handmade wreaths of leylandii, holly, variegated holly, eucalyptus and fir tree add a festive touch to interiors.
Dried foliage garlands in doorways or displays of foraged greenery look festive and smell beautiful at the same time.

2. Fresh foliage

Sometimes costly and often made from plastic, buying new Christmas decorations year on year isn’t a very sustainable decision. This year, ditch the tinsel in favour of natural foliage.

Using fresh or even dried greenery to decorate your home is a great way to bring the outdoors in and embrace a minimalist, Nordic aesthetic. Create natural wreaths to hang on doors and create festive arrangements using dried oranges, eucalyptus, leylandii, fir tree offcuts, holly, ivy and mistletoe.

*A note on foraging*

Pick foliage from your own garden or seek permission from the landowner prior to taking greenery from hedgerows.

Only select foliage from plentiful sources and avoid using rare or poisonous species.

Only take what you need and please be sparing.

gift wrapping
Brown paper is recyclable, looks great and won't harm the environment.

3. Green gift wrapping

Did you know 108 million rolls of wrapping paper are thrown away in the UK alone every Christmas?

If it’s glittery, metallic or plastic backed then it’s not even recyclable. With so many alternative options to gift wrap available why not try something different this year?

Our friends over at Tala have been trying out a traditional Japanese scarf wrapping technique called Furoshiki. Opt for patterned, linen or woven designs to create a statement gift that won’t be forgotten. Other options include using old newspaper, printing your own paper using recycled paper shopping bags or, cotton bags. Genius.

4. Cut your card footprint

We all love sending and receiving Christmas cards, it’s an age-old tradition. But with so many cards ending up in the bin come January, it's time to consider some different alternatives.

Here at Tom Raffield, we’ve opted to send our customers, suppliers, colleagues and partners E-cards (sent online). Not only does this reduce our carbon footprint and save trees but it saves time too. Coming to your inbox soon! 

christmas time 2017
Make sustainable choices this Christmas by gifting quality, well made pieces that will last a lifetime.

5. Considered gifts

Over consumption is a global issue that certainly doesn’t affect the UK alone, however there’s no place like home to make small differences that eventually have a knock on effect.

Instead of buying loved ones gifts this year why not try and make some? We’re thinking homemade biscuits, chutneys and wooden decorations. Or, if that’s not up your street, focus your efforts on buying friends and family sustainable presents - ones that are high quality and will last over a lifetime. It's quality not quantity remember.

If you're feeling really bold then how about side-stepping Christmas shopping stress completely and opting to spend quality time doing activities with loved ones instead? A festive bike ride or a nice long walk in the country somewhere (ending with a mince pie and mulled wine of course).

Posted: 13.12.18
Updated: 15.11.23

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