Tips for a ‘Greener’ Christmas

We wish you a wonderful and well deserved break after a long, busy and exciting year.

There is much you can do to have a fun and lower impact party season. Here are a few examples (scroll down to find out what you should do on your last day at the University before you get away):

At home:


  • Remember last year when you had loads of food left over that you had to throw away? Yes? then try and buy less and be creative in how to use your leftovers up.
  • Save the Turkey! Think about having a meat free Christmas – a nut roast is, (honestly!), absolutely delicious and a perfect accompaniment to a Christmas pud.
  • Buy locally sourced, fairtrade,  or organic if you can.
  • Compost any food wastes you generate, the worms and microbes should enjoy Christmas too..!


  • Give people gifts they will treasure & keep (rather than put in a cupboard and forget about). They don’t need to cost much, just to be meaningful.
  • Get creative & make things, use or learn a craft and put it to practice. Create some delicious food, cakes, sweets, jams etc. These are often far more appreciated!
  • Give people experiences. Give them a ticket to a concert, a play or a panto! As a gift take them to an exhibition or out to lunch. Put it in the diary now.
  • For the person who has everything … give them nothing! Well at least give them a warm feeling that the gift you have given them is a donation to their favorite charity or cause.
  • Offer a gift to babysit, help with DIY or gardening, or a soothing massage  – this is really appreciated and can be fun for all.
  • Buy gifts that last. Try not to get sucked into buying the latest fad that will be in the bin next year. For children, stuff that has proven the test of time is a good idea. Lego, for example, can be handed down through the family when the original recipient has grown out of it (though who really does 😉 )
  • Don’t buy stuff that is over-packaged and recycle everything that possibly can be recycled.
  • Buy your gifts from a charity shop, a real gift of giving.
  • Christmas cards.. instead give the recipient a phone call, or Skype and properly catch up with them. It makes so much of a difference to connect properly with them than just writing ‘Merry Christmas Jon/Bill/Amanda/’ etc in a card.


  • Deck the halls with boughs of holly .. fa.. la…… or ivy or boughs of other evergreens – according to Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen – its soooo much more stylish…! Pop them in the compost come 12th night.
  • Get in the traditional Christmas spirit, make decorations with your family, out of paper and other recyclable materials (and save them for next year if you can).
  • Turn off your twinkling lights when there is no-one home. It will save you energy costs and possibly your house from going up if they short circuit.
  • Don’t buy any more decorations. Over the years you’ve possibly bought absolutely loads and they are perfectly fine to use again (seriously, how important is it to have ‘this year’s must have’ Christmas bauble colour set?)

Hoping that through your (low carbon) actions we can all still look forward to many snow-white Christmases in the future.

Staff – Before you leave the University:

Please ensure that all non-essential equipment or equipment that is not needed for maintaining systems or certain lab items are turned off (if possible at the plug) including:

  • Computers & monitors
  • Personal printers
  • Chargers
  • Portable heaters
  • Any other equipment hidden away and not needing to be powered over the winter break
  • Remember when you return to turn equipment back on at the plug.

Please ensure windows are shut too and, for those of you with fixed electrical heaters that they are turned down to 16oC (to maintain some warmth in the building and prevent freezing of pipes).

Also, it is a good idea to empty fridges of anything that may go off.

If some of your colleagues have already gone and they have left stuff on then use your judgement and turn items off that you know is not needed and remember to put a note on their keyboard saying what you’ve switched off.

Have a great time whatever you do and see you back for a Super-Sustainable 2019.

Festive wishes,

The Sustainable Development Unit.

University of Greenwich Sustainability Blog