Why we should consider buying fewer presents this Christmas - and how to make better choices with the ones we do give, according to our vegan and eco-friendly columnist

Christmas is fast approaching – but is it right that some of us will struggle financially and emotionally, and our planet and animals will suffer too?

Christmas is a time for giving, but at what cost?
Christmas is a time for giving, but at what cost?

One thing we can do is buy fewer presents. Do we all feel pressure to over-buy?

When you do buy presents and start to wrap them, look at eco-friendly ways instead of single-use paper.

I am starting to use cloth wraps which can be passed back and forth (after washing).

Or use gift bags and put all the presents for one person inside one, with a layer of tissue instead of wrapping each present.

Some 40 million crackers are bought each year in the UK. By the end of Christmas Day, 99% of the plastic toys inside are discarded – at what cost to our environment?

If you don’t want to go cracker-free, many places offer reusable crackers.

Cut down on the number of cards you send – this ‘tradition’ has nothing to do with Christmas. It was introduced as a marketing tool by the Postmaster General in 1843 as a way to keep people using the postal service over what was traditionally a quiet period.

Look at sending e-cards as a different way of staying in touch.

Some of us will have plastic Christmas trees which have been passed down over the years.

Some of us will use real trees, but I always felt it was sad to be throwing our beautiful tree away in the new year.

You can buy small potted live trees which you can put outside after the season has finished, then repot them during the year to bring back in.

Obviously at some point they will grow too large to bring in but you can then decorate them outside with lights. Some companies will also ‘hire’ you a tree and collect it from you at the end.

Please don’t attend events with animals either, it really doesn’t send the right message to children that animals are ours to use for entertainment and the animals don’t enjoy it (despite what the owners may say, there is significant evidence, including from the RSPCA, to show that animals used are incredibly stressed).

Finally – the most important part is the Christmas day lunch.

All of the supermarkets sell plant-based alternatives to turkeys.

Whether you want a complete alternative like Morrison’s cranberry and nut roast or a meat replacement like their plant based roasting joint there is plenty of choice – Asda have a cranberry and chestnut wreath and beefless wellington, and stores like Lidl, Aldi and Tesco’s have their own versions.

The good thing about these options is that most people can eat them. Nine million turkeys are killed for Christmas each year, birds who should live till they are 10, but who are killed before they reach 21 weeks old.

Hopefully I have given you a few ideas as to how you can still have a fabulous Christmas whilst being kinder to our animals and planet too. Have a good one!

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