12 Ways To Have a Green Christmas in Business
The facts about waste at Christmas are startling - over this period, we produce, on average, 30% more waste than usual. The amount of wrapping paper used for presents in the UK is enough to wrap around the equator nine times, and nine billion Christmas cards end up in the waste when they could be recycled.
It's a tough line to balance, while you don't want to be a grinch and a lift in sales would support social enterprises in doing more good, the fact of the matter is, Christmas is causing extortionate amounts of unnecessary wastage, and contributing to a much larger problem around consumption and waste. Thankfully, this isn't to say that you can't be generous over Christmas without playing into this consumerism. We've compiled our Offset Warehouse top 12 ways to a more mindful and sustainable Christmas - whether that be in your business, or in the gifts you give your loved ones.
- Promote your wares alongside ethical brands and pre-loved goods. Ali Clifford said it best at our recent event, How to Combat Over-consumption at Christmas; "Support other brands". Writing a Christmas gift guide blog post or a social media post featuring like-minded brands is excellent content creation, and fab for SEO as well as highlighting brands that your customers may not have heard of before.
- Look into alternatives to wrapping paper and gift wrapping. Recycled brown paper or newspaper are great options, or, get creative; old magazines can make a fantastic collage gift wrap. Alternatively, look into reusable wrapping, made by companies such as Re-wrap - have a listen to the fabulous interview with Melissa for some creative ideas they've helped produce for their biggest client, the vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company, Lush.
- .As a business, be mindful when posting orders. Avoid unnecessarily wrapping each item if they are not likely to be damaged in the post (such as clothing) and never use single-use plastic or non-biodegradable sellotape and cellophane.
- Don't let your Christmas cards be some of the nine billion that end up in the bin. A top tip from Jen Gale: if you're sending Christmas cards for your business, why not reclaim last year's cards and make postcards - no envelope needed!
- Consider the waste your business is producing. Could food waste be donated to soup kitchens? In the UK, you can find your local food bank here. Leftover or excess stock, especially clothing, could be extremely beneficial to charities.
- The gift of experience require almost no material items or packaging. What better way to show someone you love them than with a present you can both enjoy together? Alongside your wares, could you offer a "making" experience, personal styling session, cooking class, wine tasting or a weekend retreat to your customers?
- Upcycle. Instead of throwing away old items, see how you could transform them into something unusual for gifting or in-store signage and displays. This can apply to old clothes, jars, bottles, packaging etc. (Remember, clothing that isn't selling could also be recut into new styles; shorten sleeves, take hems up - don't let it go to waste!)
- Branch out into homemade treats. Homemade chutneys, cakes, cookies and chocolate can make fantastic freebie gifts over Christmas, goodie bag contents or in-store snacks for parties while avoiding that horrid, unnecessary, unrecyclable packaging that so often comes with store-bought snacks.
- Create your own Christmas decorations. Shop bought Christmas decorations are usually covered in glitter, which is made from tiny pieces of plastic that can’t be recycled, and the decorations themselves may not be made of sustainable materials. Turn decoration making into an after work team bonding evening, or part of a festive event for your customers. Disco Dust is a great way to get your glitter fix – the glitter is 100% biodegradable, derived from sustainable sources. Why spend funds on decorations when you can go outside and find free supplies from mother nature herself? You can also turn this into a relational experience by taking a foraging trip with colleagues, customers or other local businesses. Head to the nearest forest, take a walk and see what you can find - and when you're finished, remember to put them back, so you don't disturb the local flora and fauna.
- Be mindful of the energy you are using over Christmas. Especially in stores - try to turn off Christmas lights overnight to save excess energy usage (and money!)
- Forgo the company Secret Santa and donate something to charity. Secret Santa can be a fun way to get into the festivities, but often recipients end up with a gift they probably don’t want. The Giving Tree is a Cambridge initiative where gifts are purchased for children who might otherwise go without. Schemes like this are a great way to spread the Secret Santa Christmas cheer and reduce waste from unwanted gifts – while doing something good for your community. If there’s nothing like this in your local area, Action for Children’s Secret Santa scheme in the UK is another way to donate whatever you can to a great cause.
- Set up a paid, staff volunteer day. In 2017, an estimated 4,751 people slept rough across England on any given night. Throughout the year, why not allow staff to spend a day volunteering to help the community or a local charity. Volunteering is a great way to bring people together around causes which need extra support in the festive season, like homelessness.