The Soil Association (SA) has released its top ten tips for a sustainable Christmas, citing ‘small changes’ which can all add up to ‘make a world of difference’ to the planet.

This Christmas, says the SA, marks the end of a year in which ‘our understanding of food and where it comes from’ has been shaken, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. “Research shows that people don’t want to just let things return to how they were –  citizens want to make choices that will support people, animals and our environment. Christmas is a brilliant time to be a part of the movement towards a more sustainable future,” says the charity. “From what we eat, to what we wear, where we shop and how we come together to learn about where our food comes from, there are so many ways we can all be a part of the movement this Christmas.”

  1. Eat with the seasons
    “Most of our beloved veg heroes at Christmas, including potatoes, sprouts, carrots, leeks and parsnips, are all in season throughout the winter. Opting for seasonal, organic food means supporting the UK’s nature-friendly farmers, who grow using fewer pesticides, on British farms that support diverse wildlife and healthy, living soils. Keen to spend time outside this Christmas? Our Seasonal Food guide also features top tips on what to sow at this time of year. If you’ve been growing your own, we’d love to see your harvest – enter the Best in Show competition on our social media channels this December to showcase your winning winter veggies!”
  2. Cut back on festive food waste
    “Don’t let your leftovers go to waste this Christmas – we have a whole selection of zero-waste festive recipes to try, to ensure that your Christmas dinner is the gift that keeps on giving.”
  3. Give the gift of a Soil Association donation
    “We are the charity that digs deeper to transform the way we eat, farm and care for our natural world. By gifting a Soil Association donation this Christmas, you’ll be helping us in our work with farmers to discover nature-friendly solutions, putting more good food on the table in schools and hospitals, and getting in front of Government to demand support for sustainable ways of farming.”
  4. Sign a friend up for an organic veg box
    “Imagine the sight of a box filled with beautiful veg under the tree this Christmas. When you gift a friend or family member a veg box subscription, you’ll be signing them up to an amazing community of citizens, farmers and growers who are making sure the way we farm and eat is better for nature and the climate.”
  5. Sign up for our online community
    “Have you registered for our email newsletter? When you join our online community, you’ll be first to hear about our top tips for sustainable living over Christmas, and beyond. We’ll also let you know about our lobbying and campaigning work, as we work for a transition towards a more sustainable future for food and farming.”
  6. Make an informed choice about your tree
    “Real versus fake – the great Christmas tree debate continues. In our view, a real tree that’s been grown with care is the most sustainable choice for Christmas, but make up your own mind and learn about the benefits. If you’re looking for a sustainable Christmas tree that’s been grown using fewer pesticides, your best bet is a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certified, or a Grown In Britain tree. These will have been responsibly managed and grown using a minimal amount of pesticides. Learn more about how you can help protect trees and forests here.”
  7. Get creative with your gift wrap and decorations
    “It’s estimated that each year in Britain, we throw away enough wrapping paper to circle the globe nine times. Learning inventive ways to wrap your gifts and decorate your home this year really can make a world of difference.”
  8. Support your local independent shops
    “It’s never been more important to embrace our local indies. Opting to buy food from local farmers and producers in a nearby indie is a great way to show some love for the organic movement in your area this Christmas. Pop into your nearest indie to find some amazing seasonal specials and support your local economy in the process.”
  9. Rethink your Christmas gifts
    “Going green over the festive period doesn’t have to mean cutting back on gift giving. Getting creative with your gifts and spark some joy this Christmas by enabling a loved-one to get growing at home. Have you learnt any new skills in 2020? If you have the time, consider making an upcycled or homemade gift yourself.”
  10. Wrap up warm in organic wool and cotton
    “If you’d like to update your wardrobe this Christmas but are worried about the impact of fast fashion on the environment, look out for organic cotton and wool. Working with nature, these are two of the most sustainable materials you can buy. Organic cotton farmers use natural methods to build healthy soils, save water and combat climate change, and when you see the Soil Association or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo, you can be sure the clothes you’re buying are better for the planet, and the people who make them too.”