The trick to living and operating sustainably isn’t to go without things, it’s to swap them for something more sustainable!

This Christmas, small businesses around the world are taking more care with their environmental practices, which is great news for the Earth and great news for us as conscious consumers. 

According to Nielsen, 66% of respondents were willing to pay more for products from businesses committed to a positive environmental impact. That’s a great signal!

We’ve found Sendlers from all over who are helping create an environmentally friendly Christmas, for both small business owners and families.

1. Delightful wrapping alternatives

Watching kids (and some adults) tearing the paper off a present is thrilling, but it’s a delight that sometimes lasts about two seconds. After that, the paper and ribbon and tape are generally relegated to the bin.

If you’re wrapping gifts and products this year, it’s worth doing a complete audit of what you need. Remember, the first of the “3 Rs” is Reduce. So limit the amount of paper and packaging you need in total first!

Then, make a conscious decision to use paper or cardboard wrappings that will biodegrade or can be used again for other things.

We love this colourful, biodegradable Washi tape by Earth Greetings, which features the botanical art of Claire Ishino.

We’ve also discovered Greenwrap, an amazing grippy, stretchy alternative to bubblewrap.

And of course, those extremely snazzy folks over at noissue have developed a whole suite of stickers, tissue paper and tape that are completely compostable.

Check out our Big Guide to Sustainable Wrapping if you’d like to get the low-down on all things eco-friendly packing.

2. Ditch the plastic product packaging glitz, or offer an alternative

A memorable unboxing experience used to include all manner of flashy and glittery bits and pieces. But now, customers are pushing back on an overload of unnecessary trappings.

Keep your deliveries streamlined, and your brand clean and clear, by breaking down all the steps of your unboxing experience and eliminating unnecessary packaging.

Of course, it might be impossible to completely avoid plastic. Body lotion or oils might leak out of their containers if they aren’t waterproof, and you might be stuck paying to replace the product and then trying to repair your brand’s reputation.

So if plastic is unavoidable, maybe try and develop some low-impact policies like these savvy Sendlers.

Body and hair care brand Free Soins Du Corps encourage customers to return their jar for a discount, prompting a great reusable cycle.

If you just love glitter, never fear! The clever clogs over at No Litter Glitter have developed a biodegradable set of sparkles.

Compostable mailers are a terrific way to help your customers do their bit. Check out the Sendle store for our green pouches!

For more on creating an incredible brand touch point, read our Ultimate Guide to an Amazing Unboxing Experience.

3. Carbon offset your deliveries

If you’re a small business, Christmas time is one of the busiest times of the year. So while it’s wonderful that your products are flying off the shelves, take a moment to consider how much carbon is released into the air when you ship them around the world.

Luckily, Sendle is 100% carbon neutral, so you can have peace of mind while you’re doubling down on the holiday rush. Check out our environmental credentials here.

And if you’re just sending a pair of socks to your brother overseas? We’ve got you covered for that too, with our affordable minimum-of-one send.

4. Keep your tree out of trouble

Whether they’re in the front of your shop, or in your living room, Christmas trees are often laden with sparkly, yet extremely plastic, bits and bobs.

Rather than spend money every year on new plastic ornaments, that generally end up in landfill, why not look for alternative materials? Paper is a versatile, affordable and sustainable crafting material, as is fabric, wood, wool and string.

These bamboo gumnut decorations, sold by Eco Party Box, will spruce up any Christmas tree.

As will these Mixed Wooden Santa sets by One Two Tree.

And as for the tree itself, a real Christmas tree is a ‘natural’ option, but tree farming can be agriculturally intensive (and we generally only keep the tree for a month, tops!). And while a plastic tree can be reused, it will ultimately end up in a hole in the ground too. 

Your best bet is to either rent a tree in a pot, so it can be put back outside or returned to the supplier, or dress up your house plants in paper chains or glass beads.

5. Use the good plates!

Whether you’re throwing a Christmas lunch for your staff or your inlaws, there are ways to keep the waste to a minimum.

Ditch the throwaway plates, knives and forks and instead bring out the real crockery. Sure, it might take a bit more washing up time, but that’s no match for the 450 years it takes to breakdown plastic cups.

If you’re looking for a set of something to savour, here are some lovely, chic designs from Sendler Ghost Wares. Or, if you’re more of a colourful sort, Sophia Mulheran has a set of Mandala plates.

Or, borrow plates and glasses from friends, or hire what you need. The Vintage Kitchen has beautiful glassware sets, as does Lenzo.

Where disposable plates and cups are the only option, look for plates made from palm and cups made from corn starch - they’ll be fully compostable.

If you have a lot of outdoor gatherings, invest in bamboo picnic ware. The plates, cups and bowls are safer than china outside but are also plastic-free.

Sendler Greenpack has a great range.

6. Now, that’s entertainment!

Having the TV on all day in the background of your Christmas events can waste a lot of energy.

Maybe this Christmas, agree on the shows you want to watch, and when you’re not watching them opt for music, games and good old conversation.

Have you ever had a game of Finksa? No! Oh boy, you're going to love this set sold by Earth Toys.

7. The big de-freeze

While we’re inside the family home, it’s time to defrost your freezer!

Not only will it mean more space for your Christmas food, it will save energy too. Having that space free after Christmas also means leftovers can be frozen to be enjoyed another time.

And for your goodies inside the fridge? We love these beeswax reusable food wraps sold by The Little Eco Shop.

And Jacinta at The Laminated Cotton Shop designs and makes these funky reusable sandwich bags and reusable food storage bags.

8. Northern hemisphere? Keep the heat in!

Keep heat from escaping up the chimney with a removable chimney balloon, and use draught excluders for extra insulation.

And sure, we roll our eyes, but put on your Christmas jumper when you start to shiver, instead of turning up the heat. You’ll be surprised at how much energy (and money!) you can save.

To keep those flighty breezes at bay, we love these door snakes by Maya Muse Textiles.

And if you’d like to give Bridget Jones a run for her money, check out these knockout vintage jumpers from Retro Star.

9. Southern hemisphere? Keep cool!

Rather than snow beating at your windows, some Sendlers have the sun beating down. So instead of immediately jumping to the air conditioner, why not amend some furnishings in your home to stay cool this Christmas?  

If you have north or west-facing windows, try and keep your blinds closed. This will make a huge difference to the temperature inside. Better yet, invest in some block-out curtains to shield your home from the harsh summer sun.

Shade windows and walls using external coverings, like blinds, awnings or large potted plants.

We love these fabulous planters from More Plants and these beautiful blinds from Wynstan.

10. Lead the way with LED fairy lights

LED fairy lights consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they’re much stronger than glass, so are safer too.

Putting your lights on a timer will also save energy, as you won’t forget to switch them off when you head to bed.

11. Secret Santa

Let’s face it, we’re often under pressure to give token gifts at Christmas, so it’s easy to receive unwanted presents. Lots of these will end up in the bin in the New Year. So to avoid adding to landfill, maybe play Secret Santa instead - that way, everyone gets one gift they really want.

Elfster is a neat, techy way to get organised if you’ve got a big family or large group of friends. It also lets you list some items you might actually want!

Or check out this huge charity list if you’d like to donate.

Your customers (and kids!) will thank you for it 

At the end of the day, Christmas is a time for celebration. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t revolutionise your small business, or your family event, in one go. Every little bit counts!

Over time, these small household and business changes will amount to a profound new direction.

Already sending your carbon neutral parcels with Sendle? If you’d like to broadcast your efforts, and motivate other businesses to develop sustainable practices, why not download our 100% Carbon Neutral Delivery badge?

Sendle Carbon Neutral Delivery Badges

By adding this badge to your website you’re acknowledging the need for careful, sustainable business and celebrating the ways in which we’re all making a difference. Happy Christmas!

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