Five Golden Tips for a Lower Carbon Christmas

Christmas is a unique and special day for a number of reasons. One of the reasons that doesn't often get mentioned is that for many of us it is when we are responsible for our highest daily personal carbon footprint (if you don't factor in taking flights).

The Carbon Trust has pulled together five easy ways for you to lower the environmental impact of the festive season, helping you to take action on climate change without the need to say “Bah, humbug!”

1) Baby, It’s Cold Outside

The weather outside can be frightful, but Christmas brings a warm glow. If the oven is on and there are a number of people gathering in the same rooms then your home will be warmer than usual. Consider turning the thermostat down a degrees or two, which will save money on heating and cut carbon. Wearing a festive jumper and making sure to draw the curtains as the dark December day draws in will help to keep in the warmth.

2) Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

Plans for Christmas Day are built around a festive feast, but sometimes our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs. Think carefully about how many people are coming and how much they will eat. Eating and drinking accounts for around a fifth of the average person’s carbon footprint in the UK. Avoiding unnecessary food waste is a great way to reduce this. If there is anything leftover then you can always make an awesome turkey and Brussels sprout sandwich on Boxing Day.

3) Driving Home for Christmas

Visiting family and friends is an important part of the festive season. For most of us that involves a car journey, as well as the carbon footprint that goes alongside it. Over short distances then think about whether you could wrap up warm for a bracing walk, a gentle stroll, or a dash through the snow instead. For longer distances then the best thing to do is to share a car with as many people as possible. This does not necessarily have to involve singing along to Christmas songs, but it helps.

4) O Christmas Tree

It seems unlikely that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would have considered the environmental impact of millions of Christmas trees when they popularised the German tradition in Britain. If you get an artificial tree then you don’t have to vacuum up pine needles, but you would need to keep using it for around ten years for it to have a lower carbon footprint than a real tree. If you get a real tree then make sure to dispose of it properly, by chipping or burning it.

5) All I Want for Christmas Is You

Buying presents can be challenging. Receiving a thoughtful gift is a wonderful experience, but it can also be a rare one. This sad fact is illustrated by the novelty socks at the back of the underwear drawer, the autobiography of what’s-his-name on the bookshelf, or the fourteen year old bottle of Dubonnet still sitting unopened in the liquor cabinet. Put thought into giving gifts that are going to be appreciated to avoid unnecessary waste and emissions. If in doubt, you are allowed to ask!


The Carbon Trust supports organisations in understanding and implementing opportunities in energy efficiency and low-carbon technology.

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