Christmas backdrop

Ten top tips for a sustainable Christmas


Send a Cow are passionate about living sustainably and believe that Christmastime should be no different. We’ve put our top tips together for a green festive period to help you navigate the plastic tat and waste that this time of year can sometimes be known for.

Gifts That Give Back

Christmas presents shouldn’t cost the Earth. From second-hand gifts, to choosing sustainable products, there are plenty of ways you can protect the planet whilst treating your loved ones. Send a Cow make it possible to send virtual gifts that don't cost the Earth.

Image of presents stacked on top of each other

1. Pick eco-friendly stocking fillers

If you’re buying presents for your eco-conscious friends or family, why not browse our sustainable products where you can choose from reusable water bottles, canvas shopping bags and seedball matchboxes to name a few.

2. Choose gifts for your loved ones that can help a family in rural Africa grow a brighter future

Did you know that Send a Cow was the first UK charity to introduce the virtual charity gift that is well known on the market today? Choose from our wide range of gifts including Life-Changing Chickens and Top-Notch Trees and your gift will be sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face. Plus, you'll be helping a family in rural Africa with vital seeds, tools and training. You can even go zero-waste by choosing the e-card option.

3. Consider gardening gifts with a difference! Why not twin a garden for your garden fanatic friends

Twinning a garden for your friends or family members this Christmas will be a fabulous way to recognise their love for gardening and spending time outdoors. Twin a garden with Send a Cow and your donation of £60 could help a family living in rural Migori, Kenya, with three years’ training in sustainable organic farming. Starting with small kitchen gardens, families can grow enough to eat, set up small businesses and go after their dreams.

In return, your friend or family member will receive a sustainable wooden plaque to show off in their garden, a vegetable growing guide from Charles Dowding our no-dig expert, and some wildflower seeds to get them started on your Garden Together adventure!

Christmas trees - real or fake?

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) estimates around 7 million trees are bought each year in the UK. That’s a lot of production and potentially a lot of waste.

It's true that fake plastic trees last for years, but they take enormous amounts of energy to manufacture. And it's yet more synthetic waste to be disposed of in the future.

A standard-sized living Christmas tree takes around 10 years to grow. During that time, they provide a habitat for wildlife and capture carbon from the atmosphere.

Christmas tree with baubles

4. Choose your real Christmas tree carefully

According to The Carbon Trust, a real Christmas tree has a “significantly lower” carbon footprint than an artificial tree, particularly if it is disposed of in a sensible manner. If you choose a real, cut tree this Christmas, try to ensure it comes from a local, sustainable tree farm that doesn’t use pesticides. Where possible, make sure it gets responsibly composted.

Most local authorities now offer a collection service for real trees which they shred and use in gardens and parks – the greenest way to dispose of your real tree.

5. If you think you’d rather have an artificial tree, make sure you know all the facts

Most artificial trees are made in China, with the dual climate impact of being made from plastic, PVC and metal, and then shipped overseas. According to The Carbon Trust, a two-metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg, more than ten times that of a real tree that's burned after Christmas. In other words, you need to re-use an artificial tree 10 times to negate its carbon footprint, yet it's estimated that fake trees are used only four times, regardless of improving quality.

If you're going to commit to an artificial tree, get it second-hand rather than purchasing it new and try to use it for as many years as possible.

6. Choose a pot-grown tree

A pot-grown tree can be planted out in the garden after Christmas, they can be used each year, they are stronger and healthier as their root balls aren’t disturbed and as it’s still living its needles won’t drop.

Hopefully that’s helped you decide on a real or fake tree this Christmas. If you’re also looking for sustainable gift ideas, check out our Top-Notch Tree gift supporting families in rural Africa to grow a brighter future from the land through tree planting.

Local And Organic Food

Christmas table

7. Buy local and organic

Lay out a festive, yet sustainable Christmas dinner using ingredients that are healthy, locally sourced, and organically grown. By doing so, you'll delight your guests and reduce your impact on the planet.

You can get a locally sourced fruit and veg box delivered to your door from our fantastic partner Riverford who provide100% organic, ethically sourced, and outstandingly tasty local produce.

8. Cut Out food waste

Throwing away otherwise edible food isn’t just a waste of money, it’s also bad news for the environment, as all the resources that went into producing that food are wasted along with it. Meal planning and resisting special offers can be helpful when trying to avoid unnecessary waste.

9. Consider making some edible gifts. 

Making Christmas gifts can be a great way to get the whole family involved plus by making your gifts you can control the amount if packaging that is used. And what better gift than a tasty treat that can be enjoyed with friends and family over the festive period. We love Country Living’s 35 Homemade Christmas Food gifts. 

Edible festive gifts can be packaged in reusable glass containers such as Kilner jars. Or how about using tins, baskets, and other reusable and recycled containers.

10. Gift a fabulous Rainbow Plate

Here at Send a Cow we talk less about ‘eating your greens’ and more about ‘eating the rainbow!

Eating a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables can help keep our bodies healthy and full of energy. Celebrate your love of healthy nutritious food this Christmas and treat a loved one to a Rainbow Plate gift. Your gift could help a family in rural Africa with the seeds, tools and training. It won‘t be long before they are growing tomatoes, kale, bananas and aubergine to name a few, filling their plate with a healthy, hopeful rainbow.

Have a very merry sustainable Christmas!