Sustainable UCL


12 Sustainable Christmas Tips!

16 December 2021

12 tips to make the festive period more sustainable and minimise your ecological and carbon footprint!

Christmas tree on UCL campus
  1. Trees: get a sustainable tree! Buy a Christmas tree that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): you can check if the FSC logo is on the label (find out more here). Recycle it afterwards, use it as compost, or plant it in the garden to use again next year!
  2. Travel: make your Christmas travel greener by sharing lifts to the shops with friends and family, or use public transport.
  3. Food: have a sustainable Christmas feast! It is not new information that meat has a huge carbon footprint, but did you know that your protein filled Christmas meal could be more damaging than a flight to New York? Find lots of tasty veggie Christmas recipes here. If dietary requirements prevent this, you can also be more sustainable through buying local produce when you can, making sure to not buy more than you really need, and composting your waste afterwards. You could also create meals from your leftovers using zero-waste recipes, which you can on lovefoodhatewaste's website, or from BBC Good Food.
  4. Wrapping: avoid shiny or glittery wrapping paper as it is unrecyclable. There are lots of alternatives that are recyclable and FSC certified. Why not use old newspapers or brown paper which you could decorate yourself, making it more personal? You could also use string instead of tape to keep it secure!
  5. Disposables: if you are organising a shared meal this christmas, get involved with the planning and make sure you use real cutlery, plates and glasses instead of disposables!
  6. SWITCH OFF: don't forget to switch off at UCL this Christmas. Make sure to unplug any unnecessary electricals and turn lights off. By making a pledge to switch off, you can even win your department prizes! Pledge here.
  7. DIY: get creative! Ever thought of making home-made cards, presents or Christmas decorations? Get creative this year by making your own. Find DIY ideas here. If you don't have time but still want to gift sustainably, why not support local small businesses when you shop?
  8. Warmth: try to use Christmas jumpers and blankets instead of turning up the heating! If you need to heat the house, try to set your heating to come on with a timer, to ensure you're not wasting energy during times when you don't need it. If you use candles, try to get soy or beeswax candles instead of paraffin-based ones, as they release pollutants and can be detrimental to your health.
  9. Swap unwanted gifts: look out for swap shops, or organise your own! If you have received gifts that you won't use, instead of throwing them away, give your unwanted gifts a new home through finding a local swapping session, or organising your own. Of course, giving items to charity is a great option too!
  10. Compost: compost all your food peelings or get a wormery to help break down the vegetable food waste into rich soil nutrition. Composting has many benefits including enriching soil, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and lowering your carbon footprint! Find out what you can compost hereFind out how to create your own compost here.
  11. Resuables: don’t forget your reusable cup! Whether you're warming your hands at a Christmas fair or getting your daily dose of Christmas chai  - bring your reusable. Lots of cafes offer a discount if you bring your own cup, and every penny helps in the Christmas period. #DitchTheDisposableUCL
  12. New Year's Resolutions: make a resolution with your family and friends to be more sustainable in the New Year, whether it is using the car less, eating less meat or making more of an effort to recycle! Check out ideas for pledges you can make here.