I'm dreaming of a green(er) Christmas | I'm dreaming of a green(er) Christmas | Visit Canterbury

I'm dreaming of a green(er) Christmas

On the face of it, Christmas can be a very unsustainable festival. 

Trees cut down and brought indoors, acres of glittery, foiled wrapping paper and tons of unwanted gifts going straight to landfill. Depressingly, 23 million unwanted Christmas gifts (worth between £200m-500m) generate many tens of thousands of tonnes of landfill every year. There's also the wasted food and packaging we throw away. Did you know we tend to buy 30% more food and drink and throw out 4,500 tonnes of tin foil and 125,000 tonnes of plastic food packaging during the festive season?

How can we make our Christmas shopping much greener and eco friendly this year? Here's a few tips:

Shop local

Try doing your gift and Christmas shopping locally this year. Canterbury is so lucky to have a wonderful mixture of local, independent retailers as well as its national chains. If you’ve not spent a day wandering the cobbled backstreets of The Cathedral Quarter and The King’s Mile, you’re in for a unique festive shopping experience! Unusual inspirations for the home, toys, beautiful jewellery, shoes, Fairtrade gifts, clothing, scarves and accessories, ceramics – it’s all here. The Christmas windows are beautiful and a great backdrop to give you a Christmassy glow.

➜ Look for Greener Gifts and Christmas buys

The Foundry Brew Pub - Canterbury’s award-winning microbrewery, distillery, restaurant and bar donates all their spent grain from brewing to a local farmer for additional cow feed - the cows come running for the chocolate vanilla Porter and stout beers! They recycle the energy created from brewing to heat the water for the next day’s brew and are working to recycle energy to heat and provide hot water for the restaurant. This, alongside using recyclable packaging is all helping Canterbury’s contribution in tackling climate change. There are some wonderful local gins and beers on offer direct from the producer – and we can guarantee that these ones WON’T get re-gifted!

The Veg Box Café - Offers food that is locally sourced wherever possible, to support local farmers and cut down their carbon footprint, along with Fairtrade goods. Their food boxes are compostable. Visit their website to order food boxes delivered to your door or to find out some of the
owner’s fantastic recipes to adorn your Christmas table

Lush - Great smelling Christmas bath bombs, soaps and sustainably made toiletries. Lush has even introduced a returnable plastic packaging service – giving you money off when you bring the plastic outer layers back for them to recycle. Many of their products are package free. Almost
6 million plastic bottles are saved globally from selling their shampoo bars alone. 

Unboxed - Local entrepreneur Lynda des Marais opened her St Peter’s St store with the aim of reducing the mountain of waste material from the weekly shop. She decided to open Unboxed, a plastic-free, refillable and eco-friendly store. Come take a look - reuse your own jars and fill them
up with nuts, seeds, grains or dairy free chocolate buttons for Christmas treats! There are always some lovely gift inspirations at Unboxed, such as loose leaf teas, or locally roasted coffee.

➜ Buy Second-hand and Vintage

It’s never boring to find a beautiful vintage piece of clothing, jewellery or homeware under the tree. Canterbury has some amazing vintage and charity shops, and you can relax, knowing that by buying pre-loved, you’re buying a sustainable gift. LEGO is a great example of a reusable toy – this year’s Christmas campaign at The Beaney is encouraging households to recycle and reuse old LEGO. 

Gemma Cruttenden of Demelza Hospice Shops told us ‘We saw a huge uplift in the sale of toys, games and accessories last Christmas, particularly over the lockdown period, via our online shops, so the drive to continue buying secondhand (or for a better price) is definitely still there!’ 

Chic vintage clothing stores have long thrived in the city – check out Karma (in Buttermarket), Revivals, Bounce and Funky Monks (all three near the Westgate Towers in St Peter’s St) and Superstore Vintage (Mercery Lane). Beautiful boutique Queen Bee also has some upcycled furniture and homewares (Butchery Lane). 

Don’t miss Frocks n Stock, the Hospice vintage clothing and accessories store on Burgate, for a curated selection of bags, jewellery, hats and vintage party clothes. Demelza Hospice Shop is almost next door and has some great clothing, children's toys, books and much more.

For vintage, collectable and rare books, try The Plantagenet King, a new antiquarian bookstore in Burgate, and the legendary Chaucer Bookshop in Beer Cart Lane. The Oxfam Bookshop in St Peter’s St is also a wonderful place to source specialist books. The Catching Lives Bookshop (the Wonky Bookshop) in Palace Street is stocked on all floors with many genres of books.

➜ Give them the gift of choice 

Buy them a Canterbury Gift Card, safe in the knowledge that they’ll receive something they’ll actually want, which won’t end up in landfill. Pick up an empty card from The Beaney Visitor Information Centre and load it with the amount of your choice, or buy it online and send it directly to your recipient.

Once the Christmas period is over, why not make a New Year’s Resolution to increase your recycling? Visit one of the many businesses offering to recycle your clothing including M&S, H&M, Primark, ClarksWilko and Specsavers!