How to cut back your carbon emissions this Christmas

How To Cut Back Your Carbon Emissions This Christmas How To Cut Back Your Carbon Emissions This Christmas
Enjoying the festive season doesn't have to mean increased carbon emissions, there are lots of ways to cut your carbon footprint this Christmas. Photo: PA Images
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Danielle Walsh Ronan

As Christmas approaches, many of us are trying to be more climate conscious in our habits. However, with Christmas also comes the peak period of consumerism.

Here are just a few ways you can cut your carbon footprint this festive season...

Shop local

Shopping local is probably one of the easiest ways you can reduce your carbon footprint this Christmas.

This can include shopping locally for everything from food, to fashion, and gifts you are going to buy

Products produced and bought locally have a smaller carbon footprint than items imported from overseas because they use less carbon to get to you, therefore reducing the environmental impact on the planet.

Fewer miles travelled via plane or truck means less fuel consumption and air pollution.

Not only will you be cutting your carbon footprint by shopping locally, you will also be supporting the local economy.


There are hundreds of great local businesses to choose from when shopping this Christmas.

Cut down on food waste

Food is one of the most important parts of Christmas, but wasting it can create significant carbon emissions

Food waste has a major negative impact on the environment, with research suggesting that sending 1kg of food to a landfill produces the same carbon emissions as land-filling 25,000 500ml plastic bottles.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated one million tonnes of food is wasted in Ireland each year.

When you are doing your food shopping this Christmas, as well as shopping locally, don't buy too much. Plan in advance of your shopping trip and stick to your list.

If you have food that may go off over the Christmas holidays, freeze it if you can. And, if you have to throw away food, at least use a compost bin.

Gift giving

Although consumerism in general is bad for the environment, if you are buying someone a gift this Christmas, why not get them an environmentally friendly one?

Gifting someone an experience, thrift shopping Christmas presents or making them a gift are options to cut down the carbon emissions associated with Christmas presents.

Gifting an experience or donating to charity can be as thoughtful as buying someone a gift that has a high carbon price tag. Photo: PA Images

Every purchase comes with a carbon price tag, but being more climate conscious in your spending habits can make a small difference.


There are a number of sustainable businesses which have great gift ideas that are more climate friendly too. Gift giving does not have to mean major carbon waste.

Purchasing second hand items as Christmas presents is also another way to cut back this year. Upcycling and repairing pre-loved items can reduce waste and save you money.

Thriftify’s CEO Rónán Ó’Dálaigh believes people need to end the stigma around gifting second hand.

“Our climate woes are too serious now to think that way,” Ó’Dálaigh said.

“Start your climate action journey this Christmas by normalising buying second-hand goods this year and let's create a movement around shopping pre-loved for gifts.”

“There is no better way to save money, cut down on creating excessive waste and give charities a boost.”

If you yourself get an unwanted gift, don't throw it out. Donating it to a charity shop or giving it to someone who will appreciate it is always better.

Visiting friends and family

Spending time with loved ones is one of the most important things about Christmas, however you can reduce your carbon emissions when doing it.

If your family or friends live locally, it's always better to walk instead of taking the car to see them.

Alternatively, if the journey is too long to walk, using public transport is the next best thing. Take the bus, train or Luas where possible.

And, if you live in Dublin or are visiting the capital, the National Transport Authority is introducing a new 90-Minute fare across Dublin's public transport services from November 28th, just in time for the festive season.

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