22 November, 2016

Seven tips for a sustainable christmas

A table set for Christmas
by Anna Galandzij for the Fairtrade Foundation

The countdown to Christmas has truly begun. What better opportunity to start a family tradition of giving what is good for our loved ones, the producers and the planet? With some inspirational top tips from Fairtrade friends, and sustainability practitioners, now is the perfect time to step up your shopping game.

Liz EarleFind out the provenance of what you buy 

'Giving jewellery at Christmas is such a heartfelt gift that it’s truly worth sparing a thought for the provenance of something so special. Choosing Fairtrade gold and silver means a completely clear conscience in the murky world of metal mining – and the heart-warming certainty that you’re helping small-scale, artisan miners and their families lead a safer, healthier way of life, as well as protecting the environment around them.'

Liz Earle MBE, founder of Liz Earle Wellbeing and creator of Fair and Fine Botany Collection for Cred Jewellery


Safia Minney

Choose Fairtrade to empower communities 

'At Christmas I can’t wait to enjoy time with the people that matter as well as enjoying organic food and drink. There is nothing better than giving a Fairtrade gift that delights your friends and family whilst empowering the people who made it. This really multiplies the social change and brings about huge community development like schools, clean water projects and micro saving schemes in the most vulnerable communities of our world.'

Safia Minney MBE, fair trade pioneer and founder of People Tree 


Make your own presentsAllegra McEvedy

'Stained Glass Window biscuits are an easy, fun-to-make family activity and make fab presents for people. They hang on the tree looking lovely. Over the festive period folks (especially kiddies!) can pick them off and eat them!'

Allegra McEvedy, chef, writer, broadcaster, and ambassador for the Fairtrade Foundation. You can find a recipe for the Stained Glass Window biscuits in her book, ‘Big Table Busy Kitchen’. 

John Quilter

Plan left over snacks

'The food bill tends to go up at Christmas and that means that potentially our food waste can go up as well.  On the whole, we waste over 30% of our weekly shop. My tip is to shop sustainably by planning my big day meals as well as my left over snacks.  For me the leftover meals are something I look forward to more than the main event. There’s no need to waste food.'

John Quilter aka the Food Busker, chef and co-founder of CRU Kafe, Fairtrade and organic coffee


Sophi Tranchell

Choose ethical store-bought gifts

'Oxfam offers a fantastic range of Fairtrade goodies and ethical gifts (including Divine Chocolate) and a wonderful selection of Christmas cards, decorations and wrapping paper - everything you need for the festive season. You know when you buy something in Oxfam that not only are you supporting the farmers that grow the products, you are also contributing to their valuable work fighting poverty too.'

Sophi Tranchell, Fairtrade pioneer and managing director of world-renowned chocolate business Divine. 

Carry SomersWrap consciously 

'The equivalent of 11,624 football pitches of wrapping paper ends up in our waste bins after Christmas, together with around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging. Most shiny Christmas wrapping paper is not recyclable as it contains glitter, plastics and other non-paper additives. Use only paper which is recyclable, or practice Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric.'

Carry Somers, the founder of Fashion Revolution and the fair trade hat brand Pachacuti. 

Julia HailesReduce the amount of waste

'The most important thing to remember at Christmas is to reduce the amount of waste...  This is not simply about buying recycled wrapping paper or even reusing wrapping paper from last year!  You need to be thinking about the presents you're buying and whether they'll actually be used and appreciated. It's not just the thought that counts!  I'm a great fan of practical presents - or at least ones that have some value for more than a few minutes.'

Julia Hailes MBE, sustainability writer, author of the acclaimed Green Consumer Guide. 



  • Regina bianco said:
    30/11/2016 14:15

    ...the campaign is wonderful.just suggest you make a summary of each story so all can be read.it motivates more people instead of seeing a longer text.a positive day to you all!

  • cathy skittrall said:
    30/11/2016 14:30

    There are lots of recipe ideas for leftovers online, so use them and stop wasting so much food. Remember, there are people starving on this planet!

  • jenny Wood said:
    30/11/2016 14:31

    we all use christmas bass and recycle them to each other till they are worn out.

  • J Croysdill said:
    30/11/2016 14:32

    Just cut down on the amount of gifts you buy most of them are not wanted give cah instead.d

  • Maurice Hickman said:
    30/11/2016 14:35

    Reduce waste

  • Brenda Fisher said:
    30/11/2016 14:38

    I brought a few Christmas bags in few sizes, and ask for them back when they are finished with them, and use them again next year.

  • Ann Simpson said:
    30/11/2016 15:11

    Good tips and ideas. I make up individual hampers/gifts reusing boxes or baskets to ensure people get a gift they like or will use.

  • Monique said:
    30/11/2016 15:17

    I agree with your approach to reducing wastage and buying Fair-trade goods and from local farmers and making ones own presents, like our parents used to do; spot on!

  • Anita Spillane said:
    30/11/2016 15:22

    Those are great ideas. Regarding wrapping paper, we have some ideas. We use either newspaper which we paint Xmas trees etc on, or old maps which we furnish with gold ribbon. Old wrapping paper we use to make our own Xmas crackers and paper chains to decorate the house with. Home made crackers are made with old loo roll holders, wrapped with old wrapping paper and filled with jokes tissue (or wrapping) paper hats and a fair trade chocolate button, such as divine. Cracker snappers can be included for more authenticity. Have fun and be fair xx

  • anthoulla koutsoudi said:
    30/11/2016 15:36

    Some great tips there. Could do with more though. Love the Japanese one Furoshiki and will try that this year.

  • Janis Johal said:
    30/11/2016 15:41

    The food we buy never gets wasted maybe because I have two hungry young men plus my husband. We only buy gifts that we need & will use & I always use paper for wrapping presents.

  • Colin Smith said:
    30/11/2016 15:42

    My one simple wish is for each and every one of us to enjoy and indulge in the festive period, but give a thought to those who have little or nothing. So pay a little thought to what items and food you purchase, but of course have a joyous time.

  • Jean Kay said:
    30/11/2016 16:28

    To put waste Christmas wrap in the recycling. To recycle cards to a charity and re-use gift bags received which I do throughout the year.

  • Beryl Leslie said:
    30/11/2016 16:29

    Be firm. Do not give something to someone because they gave you something. Only give things which you know will be right for the recipient and at any time of year. Christmas now is just a business bonanza for selling lots of rubbish. Donate to a charity which will do some good instead and encourage family and friends to do likewise.

  • Jan M said:
    30/11/2016 16:49

    Do a family Secret Santa with a reasonable maximum spend so each person can focus on finding one really special and meaningful gift.

  • jeff said:
    30/11/2016 17:41

    Great suggestions. All are women bar one, even greater. What does this say for us men??

  • Shirley Westgate said:
    30/11/2016 20:04

    I buy virtual presents for the animal lovers in my family.

  • Hilary Noakes said:
    30/11/2016 20:11

    I totally agree about wasting no food - when there are people in the world going to bed hungry, we should not waste food - but plan our meals and use up any leftovers. And I agree with giving people only presents which they will use. And encourage people to give me only recycled, reused or home made presents (wrapped in recycled paper - I have a paper collection dating back years). We now send greeting e-mails rather than cards to most of our friends. Should I give chocolate or tea or coffee it would, of course, be Fairtrade.

  • gail butler said:
    30/11/2016 21:43

    I love the idea of using material to wrap the gifts and as I so keen on patchwork and sewing, I already have plenty to choose from. Thinking carefully it will also be a gift given to my friends to then use or pass on!

  • Lynn Mccrea said:
    30/11/2016 22:41

    Wrap gifts in lovely tea towels or tiny linen face cloths, depending on the size of your gift.

  • Cecilia Willatt said:
    30/11/2016 22:44

    Great ideas it always worries me greatly adout the wast at it time of year, this poor old earth l9

  • Jessica Jones said:
    01/12/2016 00:59

    At Christmas I try to buy only Fairtrade products where possible. I am hugely aware of good waste having grown up in a south Africa and all the poverty and water shortages that I grew up with make me acutely aware to buy food responsibly and to use up all leftovers too.

  • Anne MacKenzie said:
    01/12/2016 17:11

    Doing my best!

  • Diana Uliczay said:
    01/12/2016 19:50

    I would be very happy if more people should raise their level of consciousness and should take the challenge to leave their comfort zone to change their lifes for the better, both for themselves and for the whole humankind.They should think better what matters more in life, to choose value vs quantity.

  • Alexander B Tierney said:
    05/12/2016 16:15

    I am pathologically incensed by the very idea of waste, I find it morally and ethically despicable that we live in a world where so many are critically deprived of what others casually discard.

  • Kate said:
    08/12/2016 13:56

    All the tips are very useful. Thank you for putting this together. I will share widely.

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