Rocking around the (sustainable) Christmas tree

Ah, Christmas. A time of family, friends, festivity, food, and a whole lotta waste. Here at GFW we’re all about reducing our impact on the environment, so we’ve trawled the Internet and put together the definitive sustainable Christmas guide to help you navigate the holidays without adding too much to the seasonal rubbish heap.


The gold standard in Christmas tree sustainability is to buy one in a pot, or to grow one yourself. A potted tree stays in the pot in your house for the festive season (no more than 12 days in the warm please, they don’t like it!) then you replant the tree in your garden once the holidays are over. Next year, dig it up and repeat. The Royal Horticultural Society has some good advice for potted trees here.

If that seems too much like hard work and you’d prefer a cut tree, try to make sure it’s been grown with some thought towards forest conservation. In the UK, FSC certification is the one to look out for, but even FSC-certified Christmas trees can be sprayed with pesticides, so you can go one better and look for the Soil Association mark.

When you’re done with your cut tree, see if there’s somewhere to recycle it.  Many councils in the UK organise locations to drop your tree after Christmas, where it’ll be chipped up and used as mulch in parks and forests.

Thinking of buying an artificial tree? Definitely not the most sustainable idea, but if you’ve got one already the best thing to do is keep using it as long as possible. And if it’s gotta be fake, consider buying a used tree on eBay, or your local free goods website.


Our shirts make great gifts, because they’re locally-made, timeless, quality items that will last for many years to come. If you can buy all your presents based on these criteria, you’ll be going a long way toward reducing seasonal waste. But could you go further?

For example, what if we knock down the stigma about second-hand gifts and re-gifts. Let’s start a revolution: if it’s the right gift for the right person, what does it matter? Take a look at our pre-loved Facebook page and gift one of our excellent lightly-used shirts.

Or how about an experience, instead of a thing? We all know what the most precious thing is in our harried world, so why not give the gift of your time? Take your giftee for a picnic, go for a walk together, see a show, catch an exhibition, play sports, or think about one of these winning ideas:

Meal out – see if you have a local zero-waste restaurant

Baked good/made goods – do you have a talent?

Help – gardening, renovating – we could all do with a bit of this!

Plants – the health benefits of houseplants are well-documented

Gift voucher for a thrift shop or charity shop

Sponsorship – tree, child, animal

Donation to a meaningful charity Subscription – Netflix, Headspace

Holiday – consider an eco-friendly short break

What about presents for the small people in your life? Believe it or not, no matter how much plastic rubbish they have on their Christmas lists, kids also love new experiences and special one-on-one time with their favourite adults. If you can’t resist the urge to buy toys though, try to avoid plastics and especially anything battery-operated. 

And don't forget to shop local - buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging. If you're in the area, our local plastic-free toy shop Timeless Toys would be a great place to look.

Timeless Toys Hove


Saving up this year’s wrapping paper to use next year is a good place to start reducing waste. Even the little scraps that aren’t big enough to wrap another present could be repurposed as gift tags, or collaged in a card. And while we’re on the subject of cards, what about sending your round robins in an e-card this year?

Or if you want to go full eco, how about reusable wrapping like cloth bags? You can find a great selection of Christmas-themed ones on Etsy or for blank customisable ones have a look at WBC.


See what you can pick up at local charity shops – it’s a great way of giving a new life to quirky old decorations. Or that wrapping you saved up from last year? Why not make it into colourful paper chains. If you’ve got kids in your life, get them involved!

Sometimes being eco-friendly just requires a small switch, e.g. choosing energy-efficient LED fairy lights, or going for natural soy/beeswax/vegetable candles. And really, what’s festive about inhaling petroleum fumes anyway?


Reducing our environmental impact at the meal table is fairly intuitive.

It’s all about eating less meat, eating organic as much as possible, and trying to limit food waste. While we all want to offer an abundance to our holiday guests, have a think about what’s really going to get eaten, or plan to serve snacks and foods that can be repurposed into meals later in the week.

And it goes without saying: avoid disposable tableware where you can, but if it’s not possible, there’s a wide array of sustainable, biodegradable cups, plates, and cutlery available on-line.  Check out Disposables for  for stylish single-use options.

If we can all heed a little of the advice above, we can definitely make a difference. But here’s the most fundamental bit of low-waste wisdom:

Plan Ahead. Planning ahead will save you from making bad, cheap, plastic-laden last-minute choices. You’ve got less than 5 weeks left – ready, set, go!

From all of us at GFW Clothing, here’s wishing you a very happy, sustainable Christmas.

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