Christmas has been called the “world’s greatest annual environmental disaster”. The period from November until January typically sees a series of spikes in consumer spending, from Black Friday (originally a US phenomenon, now increasingly observed in EU countries) to the January sales. The biggest spike is usually around Christmas, when Europeans stock up on consumer goods and food for the holiday. Consumerism has always driven our holiday traditions, and many businesses rely on Christmas sales.

Environmental groups have long warned against overconsumption during the holiday season. Many Europeans fly home to be with family, before putting up Christmas trees (which they throw out in January), consuming Christmas poultry and livestock en masse, and throwing out mountains of food waste. How can we reduce the environmental footprint of Christmas? What’s the best way to balance the social need to enjoy ourselves with friends and family, the economic needs of businesses to make profits, and the environmental limits of the planet? What would a sustainable Christmas look like?

In the video at the top of this post, we put some of your comments on this topic to Jen Gale, author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, and Valérie Swaen, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at UCLouvain.

First, they respond to a comment from M. points out that most European countries “celebrate Christmas with lights on in the streets, Christmas trees, etc.”. In some ways, Christmas is a celebration of light and plenty during winter, a time of darkness and scarcity. Can we make the celebration more sustainable while still keeping the essence of the festive season?

Food is an important part of Christmas, and our experts also react to a comment Smartness, who argues we can make the holidays more sustainable by “doing more things locally”, from the sprouts on our Christmas dinner tables to the turkeys.

Finally, Christmas is also a time when, traditionally, many people travel home to be with their families. Jack told us he has missed Christmas in the past, and he looked forward to being with his family. How can we make our travel as sustainable as possible?

Want to learn more about Christmas and sustainability? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

Do you want to get involved? Sign up to the European Climate Pact and pledge to take practical steps to help reduce carbon pollution on our planet.

How can you have a sustainable Christmas? Can we make the holidays more sustainable by “doing more things locally”, from the sprouts on our Christmas dinner tables to the turkeys? How can we make our travel as sustainable as possible? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
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14 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    >Not to be Grinch>Proceeds to be Grinch

  2. avatar

    onnozelaars…jullie willen er een moslimfeest van maken…

  3. avatar

    Stop your nonsense.. Are you trying to destroy what is the cultural and traditional link of people of Europe… But of course you say nothing about the slaughter of millions of lamb at aid El khebir

  4. avatar

    Are you going to introduce limits, raise taxes and excise duties on food, electricity and fuel? Or will you ban celebrating Christmas right away because it is ruining the planet?

  5. avatar

    How dare you ! You are completely obsolete and you’re even buying this advertisement with our money ! More Christmas, less EU is what people need. Sick and tired with corrupt EU.

  6. avatar

    Am more and more fed up with this multicultural Europe destroying our values and traditions. God save pologn and tchekie

    • avatar

      Olivier Dutreil popieram. Też mam już dość takiej Unii, która niszczy cały dorobek i historię państw członkowskich.

  7. avatar

    Może to nie Święta ale ludzie są nieekologiczni? Kiedy ich wszystkich zlikwidujecie?

  8. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    It is quite disingenuous from the DE/Friends of Europe to be cold showered with a goody- goody lesson of how to scale down, spend less and go into mental seclusion during a time when skimping is the least on most people’s minds- except the EU echelons.

    EU Politicians, their bankers & their corporate supporters are not skimping by splashing out €800 Billion of other people’s (tax-payers) money, without blinking or asking nor receiving a 50%+1 consent= approval!

    The whole lot should be summarily dismissed before X-mas- to give them time to think & realize that they still have a boss= voters!

    Please DE/FoE, don’t even hint- nor make everyone in the EU feel bad around X-mas to suggest to first Whats App ones conscious before freely enjoying this time without the burden of political inspired suggestions, hesitations & regrets!

    Everyone should merrily enjoy their X-mas break- what should be the one time of the year- where I would wish that politicians & think tanks should stop meddling, but shut up & just wish everyone a happy X-mas!

    That’s it & Merry X-mas!

  9. avatar
    catherine benning

    How can you have a sustainable Christmas?

    This is a ridiculous question in view of the fact the EU tried to ban the use of the word Christmas…..

    Even if you withdraw this gross insult to the ‘civilised’ peoples of the EU, the sentiment behind the desire to do this will remain forever present in our EU Christian lands.. Better idea is, get rid of this questionable woman you have put in place of Merkel.. Not enough good looking men to choose? Who voted for this obnoxious thinker? Anybody want to give an answer to that?

    I wonder why you didn’t choose, Ede, Diwali, Hanukka? Could it be the huge money made out of the exploitation of the name ‘Christmas’ created havoc in you ranks?..

  10. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    This is a very serious EU blunder!

    I wondered what motivated the FoE/DE to add comments dating back to April/May 2021?

    According to our (still) official and traditional “European= Europa’s” 1582 Gregorian calendar (not a 2021 EU Council attempt to re-write and abolish 439 years of Christian history)- these comment dates were closer to Good Friday & Easter than Christmas.

    Is the above political lobby group in step with the tiny Maltese’s Helena Dalli & current “EU Commissioner for Equality”- to initiate the quasi step by step abolition of Christmas in particular & the eradication of all & any remaining Christian symbols in general?

    Are we seeing an absurd example of absolute obedience to the political EU Council by Mrs Helena Dalli to execute her EU oath to the letter- being even prepared to sell out our ingrained European Culture & Christian values without a voters mandate? Christian values vs EU values!

    EU & FoE please consider:

    In Europe= Europa=, not the EU, traditional Christian values will still supersede EU political values! Have a referendum! Despite “Secularism”, the idea is that government “should” remain neutral (“sensitive”) toward all religions and not officially recognize or favour (=but also not to go overboard & degrade historical traditions) any one religion.

    This is an outrageous & treacherous act towards all European Member countries! If left “unpunished” and not acted upon by all 27 EU Head of States- then all are equally guilty! Tantamount to National treason & flaunting their national oath!

    In diplomatic terms- this will have “consequences”:

    * The 27 National Head of States (EC) to intervene & act decisively. Ultimatum.
    * Mrs Helena Dalli to be suspended! No retractions.
    * The EU Equality (in)competence to be returned to National level.

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