10 green acts of Christmas kindness

18th December 2019

Christmas is finally here! It’s a season for relaxing, indulging and spending time with loved ones. But it’s also a particular time for compassion and kindness – and we want to extend that to our countryside, too.

Here are our 10 green acts of kindness to show your love for the natural world, save the planet’s resources – and support your local countryside.

1. Make your own Christmas presents

Let’s get crafty. Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, but retailers will try their best to get you to part with your pennies and buy the latest gadgets.

But why not embrace the strong tradition of rural crafting, get creative this Christmas and make your own gifts? A crafted gift is more personal, fun and kind on the environment. Nature will thank you, as will your friends and family.

You could try making your own edible Christmas decorations, a homemade advent calendar, or even a natural Christmas wreath from foraged materials.

2. Plant a tree

Trees add beauty and character to our countryside, help us fight climate change, and provide a home for wildlife. This Christmas, give the gift that keeps on growing, and plant a tree for your loved one. There are tons of tree-planting schemes happening across the UK – you can dedicate or plant a tree in the National Forest, for example, or buy them from the Woodland Trust.

You could even offset your Christmas tree by planting two new trees!

3. Use scarves, fabric or plain brown paper for gift wrapping

Millions of rolls of wrapping paper will be binned over Christmas and much of it cannot be recycled. Skip the conundrum completely and either use plain brown paper, leftover newspaper, fabric, or even a scarf, to wrap your gifts.

4. Look after wildlife this Christmas

Winter can be a tough time for wildlife. We may be wishing for a white Christmas, but wildlife may need our kindness and support if the weather turns bad.

Resist the urge to sweep away leaves and other debris from your garden as many small mammals use them to keep warm. Set up a bird table and put out high-fat foods (sunflower seeds, peanuts, bird feed) for robins and other garden birds to keep them warm during the long nights.

5. Join CPRE

Show your love for our countryside and nature by joining CPRE – or giving membership to a friend. We believe a beautiful, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live.

In a world with so many threats to our environment, from climate change to mounting waste, we believe everyone should have access to the joys and benefits of the countryside, and make sure we can all experience the gift of nature.

6. Buy local this Christmas

Buying the ingredients for your Christmas lunch from a local farmers’ market is a great way to give back to the Earth.

You’ll be supporting local farmers, cutting the distance your food has travelled, and supporting your local countryside.

If you don’t know where to start, check out our guide to finding local food.

7. Cut your food waste

It’s easy to cook (and eat!) too much over Christmas, but don’t just bin your leftovers. You can freeze them or transform them into another meal. Try BBC Good Food for some recipe ideas, or challenge yourself or your family to come up with a way to use up whatever you have in your fridge.

Compost what you can’t use, and use it on your garden later in the year, completing the cycle and returning the nutrients to nature.

A couple walk arm in arm through woods

8. Reboot by going for a mindful walk in your local park or countryside

Christmas can be a stressful time of year. There’s the pressure of gift-giving, travelling and fights over board games. Be kind to yourself over the festive period and reboot by going for a mindful walk in your local park or countryside.

Take a deep breath of fresh air, focus on your breath, and enjoy the sounds of nature.

9. Give the gift of your undivided time and attention. Get out in the countryside with a loved one

The countryside is beautiful in the winter – frosty mornings, misty woods and gloriously muddy paths – perfect for sharing with your friends and family over Christmas.

There are a huge number of winter walks perfect for catching up with family and friends and enjoying the tranquillity of the English countryside.

Check out these pilgrims’ walking routes, and our picks for family days out for some ideas!

10. Refuse, reuse, recycle

Christmas and New Year can see our bins bulge with food waste, packaging and wrapping paper. Over 100,000 tons of plastics packaging will be thrown away and not recycled, and the total amount of waste created at Christmas is estimated to exceed an incredible 5 million tons!

We can all make an impact by encouraging your friends and family to refuse unnecessary packaging, reusing existing materials, and ensuring what we do throw away is properly recycled.

Check with your local council to see if they can recycle your tree, and if you don’t know where to recycle, check out RecycleNow’s website.

What green acts of kindness will you commit to doing this Christmas? Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and help us spread the joy!

Making decorations out of natural materials is kind on the environment Annie Spratt/Unsplash