4 min read

5 ways to have a climate friendly holiday

2019 was the year that the climate emergency entered mainstream consciousness - and the Oxford Dictionary as ‘word of the year’. Let’s get ready for 2020 by taking positive climate action over the festive season!

Looking back over the past months it’s hard to keep up with the momentum building in the climate movement. It was only August 2018 when Greta Thunberg abandoned her schoolwork to sit outside her country’s Parliament for three weeks. Her protest against government climate inaction went viral and kickstarted a global youth movement, with the latest Global Climate Strikes in September 2019 attracting 7 million people across 4,500 demonstrations in 150 countries. 

Across the world, national governments, councils and businesses have added their voices to the movement by declaring a climate emergency. At the time of writing, 398 local councils in the UK had done so, which means that at least 55 million people (over 80% of the population) live in jurisdictions in which a declaration has been made. An increasing number of businesses are also making public declarations to go net-zero including 533 B Corps committing to reach this ambitious target by 2030.

While these huge leaps forward give us a lot to be hopeful about, it’s important to hold this up against a rapidly deteriorating natural world. November was the second warmest on record (only beaten by 2016), and scientists are predicting that 2020 will be the warmest year yet. Wildfires rage in Australia while temperature records in the country are smashed. And let’s not forget the blistering European heatwaves of 2018 and 2019, or the increasingly fierce Californian fires. 

Seasonal natural decorations

Holding the good and bad together, let’s look to how to have a conscious festive season by taking climate action: 

1. Give the gift of experiences

Instead of buying gifts why not share experiences with your loved ones? Oxfam has a great range of gift cards supporting different causes. Purchase a poverty busting pig to help people in Rwanda or perhaps consider the not-to-be-missed 'pile of poo' that goes towards training farmers in eco-friendly composting. 

Choose Love is both a physical and online store where you can purchase real gifts for refugees – ranging from essentials like toiletry bags and blankets to skills training and mental health support. 

But be warned, going the experiential route in a culture where giving physical gifts is the norm is hard. A recent UK survey showed that a third of gift givers said they’d feel a little guilty about not giving a tangible gift. Why? Over half felt giving an actual gift felt more thoughtful and personal.  

2. Think about how you’re powering your holidays

Turn down the heat and use it as an excuse to wear one of those holiday jumpers we all have in the bottom of our drawers. 

And if you haven’t already switched to a green energy provider, there is no better time than the present. Celebrate 2020 knowing you’re on the right side of the energy transition! Oh, and you’ll probably save money too – see how much with the Big Clean Switch.

3. Plant-based Christmas dinner 

Approximately 10 million turkeys are eaten in the UK every Christmas. 

While replacing the traditional bird with vegan nut roast might be a step too far for most, why not buy a smaller bird and increase the number of plant-based sides? 'Sizzled sprouts with pistachios & pomegranate' and 'Cranberry & lentil bake' over at BBC food sound mouthwatering! And, of course, serve that up with some circular economy booze like Toast Ale to get you in the holiday spirit.

holly leaves and berries

4. Talk about what is happening

While most of us worry about climate change, there is a big mismatch between what’s going on in our heads and what we speak about with others. Fascinating research from the US shows that 66% of Americans say they are at least ‘somewhat worried’ about global warming (and 30% are ‘very worried’) while 59% say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ discuss global warming with family and friends. 

Break the climate silence this festive season. It’s a small but profound action as it signals your concern to others, gives them the space to share theirs, and helps break cultural norms that can hinder action from happening.  

5. Carry your concern into the workplace in 2020

We spend about 70% of our time at work, yet we often skip over this as a site for climate action. If you are a senior leader, have you thought about how climate change will affect your operations into the future, or how to engage your staff on the topic? If you are an employee how about linking up with other like-minded colleagues to drive action in your business unit? 

We need to be building corporate cultures of climate concern and action through company-wide climate training and knowledge-sharing. For some ideas check out B Lab UK’s Business Playbook: How to Declare a Climate Emergency and Take Climate Action which was developed with the support and guidance of The B Team and Said Business School.

And don’t forget, love, appreciation and connection are the best gifts to receive – so share these renewable, low-carbon offerings generously this Christmas!