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  • Various leaves from Christmas-related plants arranged in circle on black tablecloth.

    How to
    Go Circular
    This Christmas
    so the Planet
    Has Fun Too:
    A Guide

An Extra Special (New Kind of) Christmas?

We could probably all do with an extra special celebration this Christmas couldn’t we?

You can’t say we don’t deserve it after the couple of years we’ve all had. Christmas last year was much more lockdown than throwdown unfortunately! And it’s not like the time in between has been packed full of merriment either. Why wouldn’t we go all out this year and make Christmas an extra special occasion?

Well we think that’s an absolutely brilliant idea. We also think there’s a way we can make Christmas extra special for people, and for the planet. How about, instead of making it special by buying loads of extra stuff or putting up twice as many decorations, we all do our best to go circular this Christmas instead? Okay just hear us out here!

We’re not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself or your loved ones this year, because you absolutely should! We’re just saying that maybe it’s time we found a new, better, less environmentally damaging way of treating ourselves.


We could probably all do with an extra special celebration this Christmas couldn’t we?


It seems clear from the recent gathering of our ‘world leaders’ at the COP26 conference that we all have plenty of work to do if we want to get our planet back in full-working, human-friendly order. Embracing the circular economy — especially at a time like Christmas when consumption usually sky-rockets — would be a great start.

Colourful toy train set with train and train station in the foreground and toy trees in the background.

With an apparent toy shortage on the way this Christmas, could this be the perfect year to go circular? Can we bring circularity into the Christmas of the present, as well as the future? Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash.

And with an expected toy shortage this year to add to the ever-growing craziness of the world, what better time to get creative with Christmas? Maybe this is the perfect time to re-think the way we do Christmas, and then never look back! Maybe we can make Christmas extra special from now on in a whole new, circular kind of way.

But what do we even really mean when we say, go circular this Christmas?

Go Circular This Christmas? What the Heck Does That Mean?


The circular economy is all about designing, using, and disposing of goods in a way that minimises waste and maximises resources. Done right, it offers a way to produce and enjoy all the products we need, without costing the earth.


A lot of things tend to go up at Christmas. The kids are usually charged up with a few extra thousand volts of in-your-face, won’t-go-to-sleep, havoc-wreaking energy. Most of us probably see the dial on the weighing scales go up as we happily throw any diets or exercise regimes we might have been reluctantly adhering to right out the merry window. Who could forget the decorations? It wouldn’t be Christmas if they didn’t go up. You better believe those stockings and Christmas trees are going up as well!

Little girl wearing brown jacket holding sparkler in her hand in the dark.

Kids always seem to find a whole lot of extra spark around Christmas time. (For good or for bad!) Photo by Zara Walker on Unsplash.

But of course, unfortunately, all of this inevitably means that our consumption, and therefore the waste we produce, also has to go up. Right? Well, not necessarily! Maybe we just need to make it go around in circles instead.

The circular economy is all about designing, using, and disposing of goods in a way that minimises waste and maximises resources. Done right, it offers a way to produce and enjoy all the products we need, without costing the earth.

This involves doing things like:

  • Designing/choosing products made from recycled materials.
     
  • Designing/choosing products that are 100% recyclable, and easy to recycle.

  • Making the things we have last as long as possible.
     
  • Re-purposing and re-using products before disposing of them.
     
  • Repairing goods whenever possible.
     
  • Donating things you no longer use to people who need them.
     
  • Buying second-hand.
     
  • Buying less stuff in general.
     
  • Basically doing everything we can to get the most out of the products we use and the resources contained within them.
Graphic depicting how the circular economy works.

The graphic above gives you a good idea of how the circular economy should work.

It might sound like a lot of work, it might not sound like a lot of fun, but you’d be surprised at how easy and rewarding it can be to adopt some of these circular ideas into your life!

And we reckon that by adding a bit of circularity into your own Christmas, you can make it a celebration that even the planet can enjoy. We’ve even come up with a few funky ideas for how you might make it happen.

So How Can You Go Circular This Christmas?

Going circular for Christmas isn’t something you need to stress about, or something that holds back the festivities. If you think of it as an opportunity to mix things up and get creative, embracing circularity can actually be a great way to add some extra fun to your Christmas. It might even offer you new ways to connect with your loved ones, and make the whole celebration more meaningful.

There can still be gifts, decorations, trees, and general Christmas joy. Only this way, that joy doesn’t have to come with a side-order of pollute-the-planet pudding!

So have you found yourself ‘dreaming of a circular Christmas’ yet? Of course you have!


Going circular for Christmas isn’t something you need to stress about!


Seriously though, if you do fancy it, here’s a few thoughts about how you can make that dream come true.

Re-Thinking Gifts

Pile of Christmas gifts wrapped in red and white wrapping paper, tied with sparkly gold bows.

We can still give each other great gifts for Christmas without buying a great big pile of stuff. Check out our tips below for circular-friendly gifts, without all the environmental destruction!

There’s no denying that a huge part of what makes Christmas special is the gifts we give each other. But giving each other gifts doesn’t have to mean bad news for the environment. There are plenty of ways you can sprinkle the joy of gift-giving all over your Christmas celebrations without having to send your consumption numbers through the roof!:

Buy Less:

Does buying less stuff for people mean they won’t be happy with their gifts? Not at all! Maybe by buying somebody one thing they really want, instead of loads of little things that they probably don’t want, you’ll actually make them even happier?

Focus on fewer, high-quality gifts that will last a lifetime, instead of mountains of gimmicks and ‘knick knacks’ that nobody ever really uses, and suddenly the not-so-festive pile of Christmas consumption and waste becomes a whole lot smaller.

Buy Different:


If you do give someone a pre-used gift for Christmas, you can tell them they’ve also been given the gift of natural resources remaining safely in the ground!


Retro stuff is cool isn’t it? What about vintage stuff? What about second-hand (pre-loved is better!) toys for your kids? Circularity is all about making products last longer and making resources go further. There’s hardly a better way of doing that than choosing to give perfectly good discarded products a new home.

And if you do give someone a pre-used gift for Christmas, you can tell them they’ve also been given the gift of natural resources remaining safely in the ground!

Vogue has put together a great list of websites for finding second-hand gifts if you’re feeling cool enough. 😉

Secret Santa:

This probably falls under the ‘buy less’ category but we think it deserves a special mention due to its wondrous powers of bringing people together. (And isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?)

Secret Santa is when each person in your family or group just buys a gift for one other person in the group. All the names get put in a hat and each person picks one out at random, and that’s who they get a gift for. This means less stuff ends up being bought, but everyone also (usually) puts a little more thought into their gift. What better way could there be to really show that special (or random) someone how much you love them? At least the planet might love you for it.

How About Making Gifts?:

Okay so we know this might not be for everyone, but if you are feeling extra creative this year, here’s a list of potential homemade gift ideas that could come in handy.

Experiences Over Tangible Gifts?:

Lady in dark stripy top with long hair examining fresh honeycomb on table outside.

How about gifting someone an eco-friendly experience like working with beekeepers this Christmas? Now that’s certainly a circular-friendly option!

Gifts don’t need to be actual, physical things you know? When you look back on your life it’s more than likely the thrilling, profound, and unique experiences you’ve had that you remember most fondly and vividly. That iPhone 763X you unwrapped 7 years ago usually tends to take a back seat!

So maybe gifting that special someone an interesting experience could be the way to go. If you opt for something eco-friendly like working with bee-keepers for the day, or a trip to a local concert or sports event, you’ll also be gifting them a low impact, circular-friendly experience too.

Give People Your Time and Attention:

What is Christmas all about really? For us, at it’s core, Christmas is a celebration of coming together with the ones we love. Spending time together and really being there for each other is what Christmas is all about!

So maybe the truest gift we can give each other this Christmas is to really offer our time and attention to the people that matter. Really be there for them and truly listen to them. Maybe this is the most important thing. And you know what? It costs nothing, for you, or for the planet.

Give the Gift of Giving and Make a Donation:

Making a donation in someone’s name to a cause they care about is more than just a gift. There’s basically no environmental impact involved, and instead you’ll be making a positive impact somewhere in the world.

Maybe choosing this option would bring a whole other kind of circularity to Christmas this year.

What About the Wrapping Paper?


You’ll probably be wanting to wrap your circular-friendly gifts in circular-friendly wrapping paper. Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can do that!


Gifts are a huge part of Christmas, but so much of the fun is in the unwrapping isn’t it? Anybody who doesn’t try and guess what a gift is at least twenty times before opening it surely doesn’t understand what Christmas spirit is all about.

So you’ll probably be wanting to wrap your circular-friendly gifts in circular-friendly wrapping paper. Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can do that:

  • Use up any wrapping paper you already have in the house first. (If this involves using loads of scraps with different patterns on them, just go for it! It’ll probably end up looking extra funky that way.)
  • Wrap your gifts in fabric that you have around the house. (Obviously make sure you get the fabric back!)
Lady in beige shirt stood in front of Christmas tree holding gift wrapped in yellow fabric and red leaves.

Wrapping your gifts in fabric would be a great way to go circular this Christmas! Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels.

  • Use bags to cover your gifts. (Tote bags you have lying around from the latest shop, even empty backpacks or any other kinds of bags that you’re not using. The aim of the game is to keep people guessing what you’ve bought them, and a bag can do this just as well as wrapping paper.)
     
  • If you feel you have to buy new wrapping paper, try to choose the most eco-friendly option possible.

Decorating in Circles!

It really wouldn’t feel like Christmas without all the colourful decorations up around the house. You’ve probably got the ones you had up last year safely stashed away in a box somewhere patiently waiting for December to arrive. And of course, the most circular way you can decorate this Christmas is to just use last year’s decorations.

But if you’re looking for a little extra sparkle this year, you might not have to go out and buy it! 

Man in white wooly sweater and daughter in red Christmas sweater drawing Santa Claus on Paper.

Making your own Christmas decorations this year could be a great way to teach the kids about the circular economy! Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

There are so many ways you can make your own decorations using stuff you might find lying around the house. And if you get your kids involved, you can teach them about circularity, while showing them another fun Christmas activity.

Of course there are also loads of eco-friendly options available if you do need to get some new decorations in. From reusable advent calendars to sustainable Christmas crackers, there’s plenty of choice out there.

Fake or Real? (How About Renting a Tree?)


Did you know that you can rent a tree for Christmas? And we mean, rent an actual living tree for Christmas, which will then continue to live and grow once Christmas is over!


People are always talking about whether they should get a real tree, or a ‘fake’ tree for Christmas. But what about neither?

Did you know that you can rent a tree for Christmas? And we mean, rent an actual living tree for Christmas, which will then continue to live and grow once Christmas is over! Meaning no need for fake plastic trees, and no need to permanently cut down real trees either! 

And it’s quite a simple process too. All you’ve got to do is:

  • Find a local tree rental service and choose a tree. 

  • Pay a deposit plus the cost of the tree. 
     
  • Take care of the tree for three and a half weeks over Christmas. 

  • Return the tree after Christmas for it to be re-planted.
Large, snow-covered evergreen tree next to baby evergreen tree, stood on a white snowy slope.

How about enjoying a real tree this Christmas without having to take it out of the ground permanently? Well you can do that if you rent a tree! A lovely way to go circular this Christmas. Photo by Lionello DelPiccolo on Unsplash.

And there you go. You get a nice lovely tree to brighten up your house over the Christmas, yet the tree stays in the ground and continues sequestering carbon from the atmosphere all year round.

That sounds like the definition of a circular Christmas tree to us.

Donate What You Don’t Need (Help Someone Else Go Circular This Christmas!)

We mentioned earlier about buying second-hand gifts for Christmas, but this only becomes possible when people donate/sell these things. And you can do the same.

Have a look around your house and you’ll probably find countless unused items that other people might need or want. Something you haven’t used in years could be the ideal Christmas present for someone you’ve never met!

If you donate or sell these things instead of throwing them away, you might be helping someone else go circular this Christmas too.


Have a look around your house and you’ll probably find countless unused items that other people might need or want.


Support Circular Design

If you do decide to go circular this Christmas, embracing all or even some of the ideas we’ve mentioned above should help you do it.

But there’s another option too! If you are buying gifts for people, choosing to buy from brands that incorporate true circular design into their products is a wonderful way to support the circular economy. This not only helps these circular brands thrive, it also ensures that you’re buying truly sustainable gifts for your loved ones.

Circular&Co. reusable water bottle range arranged on wooden shelf.

Our circular reusable water bottles are made from discarded plastic bottles and are 100% recyclable. Could they be the perfect circular Christmas gift for someone you know?

Tooth, briiv, Circla, Whirli, and Gomi are just a few of our favourite UK-based circular brands right now. We would definitely recommend checking them all out right away! (If you fancy giving someone a reusable water bottle made from discarded single-use bottles for Christmas, maybe our Circular&Co. reusable water bottle could be the thing for you!? 😉 )

Focus on the Memories

Whether or not you do decide to go circular this Christmas though, we hope it’s still a special one for you and your loved ones. Because that is really what Christmas is all about isn’t it? Sharing our time and making memories with the people who matter most to us.

Maybe if we focus more on that side of Christmas from now on, there will be plenty more memories to come. For us, our kids, our grandkids, and many generations after that.

So here’s to a very merry Christmas to all of you, and of course, to the planet as well.

This article was created by Adam Millett of Word Chameleon, in collaboration with Circular&Co.

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