The 12 Carbons of Christmas

or How to be Carbon Conscious Without being a Party Pooper

We are often asked what you can do to be more sustainable during the Holiday Season, so here are our top tips on how to reduce carbon, costs and waste and support your favourite environmental and humanitarian causes this Christmas.

Now - we're quite a musical bunch here at Carbon Footprint (our hidden talents of french horn, piano, violin, guitar, ukulele, recorder and a bit of karaoke!!!) - so last year we gave you our top tips in Christmas hits, this year, we give you our tips to the theme of the 12 days of Christmas!

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

When it comes to trees, which is better; real or artificial?tree_bauble.jpg

Obviously a live tree that is kept and allowed to grow from year to year is best – but we realise that most live trees are cut. Life cycle Analysis (LCA) of the American Christmas Tree Association 2011  showed that on a carbon basis, artificial trees are lower than real cut trees after 5y use. However, if you go for a cut tree, ensure to choose from a local sustainable source to limit your footprint. Trees in the UK are typically composted by local authorities to make soil improvers, but this process releases about 50% of the CO2 sequestered (search 'Christmas recycling' which should pull up details of collections & collection points within your region). Be aware also that intensively farmed Christmas trees are often sprayed with chemicals, that are hardly supportive of biodiversity. Choose Forest Stewardship Council approved trees to improve your environmental impact.

Two Turtle Doves

Flying off this Christmas? Whether by plane, car or train, ensure to travel carbon conscioustraffic_jam.jpg

Making sure your car is winter weather ready is not only a great thing for safety, it is also an easy way to lower your carbon. Simple things such as, checking your tyre tread & inflation pressures, using high gears safely and not leaving the car idling in long queues, utilising the start/stop facility if you have one, can all make a difference.  

Think about travelling during quieter hours and cruising along in top gear to save fuel and carbon! Or if you are travelling home from Uni or College; go by train or lift share - a London to Liverpool drive will seem much shorter with a buddy on board. A car journey from London to Liverpool (av petrol car) produces 25kg of CO2e – whilst the train for the same journey is just 10kg per person. Whether it’s to visiting friends/family or to absorb the Christmassy atmosphere abroad, any flights will count to your carbon big time! A return trip London to New York is 1.63 tonnes of CO2e per person. For the average person in the UK, that is equivalent to 1/5 of your yearly emissions.

Calculate your travel emissions using our free carbon calculator

Three French Hens

Nestling down this evening? Keep cosy whilst reducing your impactsilentnight.jpg

Crack out your favourite Christmas jumper and turn down the heating by 1 degree to save £42 each year for an average household gas bill of 12,500kWh. The heat from the turkey roasting in the oven on Christmas day will also provide extra heating to the house!

Turning heating down 1°C saves £42 each year - that's 184kg CO2

Four Calling Birds

Calling you to consider environmentally friendly wrapping paperxmaspresent.jpg

When wrapping those Christmas presents, consider reusing wrapping paper, making your own from magazines/newspapers around the house or using reusable wrapping fabric. Make sure to recycle wrapping paper and Christmas cards/envelopes after Christmas and avoid buying glossy wrapping paper that is unrecyclable.

Each year around 5 extra sacksful of waste are produced per household over the Holiday Season which is equivalent to an extra 1.4 tonnes CO2e. (more info)

Five Gold Rings

Your rings of bright lights can provide easy carbon savingsxmaslights.jpg

Put your indoor and outside Christmas lights on a timer so that they aren’t wasting electricity when you forget to turn them off after a couple of sherries.

Choose LED lighting in your house normally and for Christmas decorations to save money on your energy bill. LEDs can save up to 90% of lighting energy costs: using a standard 100W light bulb for 4 hours a day costs you £14.60/year but a low energy light bulb costs only £2.63/year and saves 52kg CO2 per bulb.

Six Geese a-Laying

Whether it's goose, turkey or nut roast, food is an essential part of Christmasxmasdinner.jpg

Prepare and plan for the right amount of food to minimise waste! Though we don’t encourage 'BOGOF's, if you do get one (two!) donate to a food bank. Simple and small things like letting people serve themselves so they only take what they want rather than giving everyone the festive supersize will help prevent binning food. If any food does become waste, ensure to use the food waste bin.

Anything else cooking? Prepare and cook food in decent sized batches to make the most of a hot oven. Don't leave the oven on when you don't need it - you will be just wasting energy. Make sure you choose the right cookware for the job (glass and ceramics are best for the oven, copper based pans for the hob). Also consider steam cooking those controversial sprouts and other vegetables as you can cook them all at the same time, it’s healthier and requires less energy to cook all at once.

More cooking tips

4.2 million Christmas dinners were reported wasted across the United Kingdom in 2014 - said The Independent. This figure is equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes.

Seven Swans a-Swimming

Diving for the best cracker prices each year only to chuck them out the next day?xmascracker.jpg

The vast majority of us don’t keep our prizes from Christmas crackers much beyond the end of the meal; so why not consider getting crackers with just the cheesy jokes and hats, making sure to recycle the paper and cardboard afterwards?

Alternatively, fill or make your own cracker to add fun and a more personalised touch to your crackers.

Considering simple steps like this to cut out unnecessary waste can reduce your carbon impact and encourage a more sustainable lifestyle.

Eight Maids a-Milking

Do you usually milk Christmas for all its worth and end up with presents you don't want/need?xmaspresents.jpg

If you get something you wouldn't have chosen as your first choice (or it's something you have already) - you can re-gift items to your local charity for those more in need to enjoy.

Also consider making a reverse advent calendar, adding an item of food or clothing in each day to be given to food banks or charities. This is great to help out those less fortunate whilst getting into the Christmas giving spirit and encouraging a less wasteful lifestyle.

Got a friend or family member who loves to do their bit for the planet? Give the gift of carbon offsetting by supporting one of our projects, which also bring environmental, economic and social benefits to the local communities, for which you can download a gift certificate. 

Nine Ladies Dancing

Crack out your dance moves to reduce your footprintxmaswalk.jpg

Try and reduce TV time at Christmas by getting the whole family involved in interactive games, dancing or even going for a walk! Even by turning off your electronic devices such as your TV and computer rather than leaving it on standby can reduce your energy bill and emissions. 


Ten Lords a-Leaping

Leap into action this Christmas to help those less fortunatehomeless.jpg

For the homeless and the elderly, Christmas can be a difficult time. Your donations and also your time volunteering are valuable to organisations such as Crisis and AgeUK to name but two. 


Eleven Drummers Drumming

March into the new year with a pledge to reduce your footprintnew-years-eve.jpg

Make a Low Carbon resolution and stick to it – start by measuring your Carbon Footprint  and make a pledge of how much you will save in 2018. 

Tips to reduce your everyday emissions.

Twelve Pipers Piping

Piping to the sweet tune of carbon neutralitykenyagroup.png

You should strive to reduce your emissions as much as reasonably possible but you will not be able to completely remove your carbon footprint. To compensate for these emissions, you can offset by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere.

Offsetting through our environmental projects not only reduces your impact and helps to combat climate change, it also supports the local communities by providing social and environmental benefits, such as improvements in employment, health and biodiversity.

Calculate your emissions using our free carbon calculator then offset using our environmental projects



Support Carbon Projects across the Globe

Kenya Tree Planting

UK Schools Tree Planting

Our International Carbon Offset Projects

Gift Certificates available on-line


The team at Carbon Footprint wish you all a Very Merry Christmas