9 tips for a zero-waste, ethical and eco-friendly family Christmas dinner

It’s now December which means its time to start planning every part of your Christmas Day, including the best bit – what you’re going to eat for your Christmas dinner!

The climate crisis is firmly on the horizon and plastic pollution is filling up our bodies and waterways – how can we tread lightly with our Christmas dinner?

The good news is that even though Christmas has evolved into one of the most intensely consumerist and wasteful times of year, there are loads of things we can do to make it more ethical and use less carbon than ever before.

Read: 7 ways to have an eco-friendly and plastic-free Christmas

Here are 9 tips for a zero-waste, ethical and eco-friendly family Christmas dinner:

Roast Turkey Christmas Dinner, iStock
Roast Turkey Christmas Dinner, iStock

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1. Meat or two veg?

The eternal question regarding the carbon footprint of your meal is whether to have meat or veg or even vegan. Turkey or chicken does have a much lower carbon footprint than beef, which is so carbon heavy and uses a lot of water. If you’re buying a turkey and you’re able to, then make sure that it is free range and hasn’t come from a cruel factory farm that uses unethical practises.

If you want to cut your footprint further, then you can make a vegetarian Christmas dinner with these lovely recipes from BBC Food. The most ethical and least carbon heavy option is a vegan Christmas dinner and BBC Food has great recipes for these as well. I personally won’t be having a fully vegan Christmas meal as my mum doesn’t believe in veganism but I’ll be avoiding eggs, cheese and milk.

2. Scrap the napkins

Forget single-use napkins and use unpaper towels to clean up any spills. You can also use dishcloths or you can even make your own unpaper towels (it’s very easy). It will save you money as you can just wash them and use them again for next year.

3. Make or buy zero-waste crackers

Depending on how much time you have, you can make your own zero-waste crackers, giving them a personal touch and avoiding plastic along the way! Otherwise there are now quite a few zero-waste crackers on the market, like the ones below.

4. Ditch single-use tableware

It’s sometimes tempting to use single-use tableware like paper plates or plastic cutlery to avoid washing up, but it’s cheaper and more eco-friendly to use the metal ones you already have as well as your normal plates.

5. Buy Fairtrade

There are plenty of brands that buy Fairtrade nowadays, which means that the producers are paid a fair wage for the food or items that they grow or make. The more fairly traded items that we purchase, the more that supermarkets will stock these items so it’s a vote for a better world. Fairtrade gifts are often made from recycled or upcycled materials too.

6. Go organic

Buying organic is more expensive than non-organic so it’s a privileged position to be able to buy it. If you can buy organic then it’s a great way to support farmers whose land is a haven for wildlife that has been severely depleted by habitat loss and pesticides, amongst other threats. I don’t need to tell you about the bees, we all know.

7. Support local businesses

To reduce your carbon footprint, buy from ethical local farms or traders to keep independent businesses going in an extremely difficult and insecure time for business in the UK.

8. Ditch the candles and balloons

Candles and balloons are not very good for the environment at all. Balloons are much worse than candles because they are made from rubber which takes 6 months to one year to degrade and plays havoc with marine animals. However, candles are mostly made from paraffin wax so you’re burning oil and the soot that they produce isn’t great for your lungs. Also, you might set your table on fire with them, as my mum did.

9. Use a zero-waste dishwashing kit

Ditch plastic washing up bottles and single-use sponges for vegan soap blocks, loofahs and wooden scrubbing brushes. Lots of ethical supermarkets like Big Green Smile and Ethical Superstore stock all the zero-waste dishwashing gear that you could ever need:

There has never been a better time to go green and ethical than now that we’re in a climate crisis across the world. We can build a better world by voting with our money and demanding that businesses operate in a more sustainable and ethical way.

What are your tips for a greener Christmas dinner this year? Share your advice in the comments below!

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How to make an eco-friendly and ethical family Christmas dinner
How to make an eco-friendly and ethical family Christmas dinner


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