How should an environmental charity seeking to present a positive, up-beat vision communicate at Christmas?  With the stresses and strains of modern living, Christmas provides a rare opportunity for people to relax with friends and families. It is a time of tradition and, for some, religious reflection. It is also a period when the pressures to buy are at their most extreme, enticing people to spend more than they can afford on things that they may not want.

Green groups can rightly point to the environmental and social impact of our consumption lust, but by doing so immediately fall into the trap of being seen as grinches and kill-joys. It is a fine line that Hubbub has sought to tread – not always successfully. Here are our five main reflections.

1) Don’t sweat the small stuff

The media loves to focus on things that are highly visible and part of the routine for most people.  A great example is ‘should I use wrapping paper?’ This is a perfect opportunity for true greenies to do some ‘virtue signalling’ by wrapping their presents in paper that has been used since the mid-1980s, whilst the sceptics can righteously moan about yet another attack on freedom of choice. 

In reality, whatever you wrap your presents in won’t shift the needle when it comes to the climate emergency or loss of biodiversity. Simply do what you feel is right for your personal values and don’t fret if others choose a different option.

2) Share ideas that save money and make common sense

UK homes produce on average seven million tonnes of food waste each year, while food waste is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Almost a third of us admit we throw away more food at Christmas than at any other time.

Reducing food waste makes a significant environmental impact, saves money and is hard to argue against. Hubbub has created recipe ideas helping people to use leftovers and provides simple guidance on what can and can’t be frozen. Campaigns such as this are perfect for Christmas as they are topical and helpful.

3) Use Christmas to highlight wider trends

The environmental impact of fast fashion is increasingly under the spotlight. Christmas jumpers are a perfect example of throwaway clothing. Research from Hubbub discovered that we are set to buy 12 million new Christmas jumpers this year, despite there already being 65 million stashed away in our wardrobes from previous years. Two out of five Christmas jumpers are only worn once over the festive period.

hOW TO HAVE A SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS JUMPEr

We highlighted this in a media campaign that got extensive pick-up using the argument that by swapping or buying second-hand, people could still enjoy this growing ritual but without trashing the environment. Despite our best efforts, the campaign got some social media stick showing the dangers of criticising something people enjoy and which is linked to raising funds for charities. Despite this negativity, we feel it is justifiable to call out this unnecessary and environmentally damaging trend.

4) Avoid contentious debates

People love a contentious debate to attack the credentials of green statements. Every year there is a discussion about whether a real Christmas tree is better than a plastic one or not.  The only accurate answer is – it depends on how you use them and how they are disposed.  This gives loads of scope for people to dismiss the green movement as being killjoys.  Hubbub has decided to avoid this sort of debate. If people are really concerned, then supporting tree-planting charities throughout the year is a great option. 

5) Offer hope and inspiration

Every Christmas there are heart-warming stories of people coming together for the greater good, whether it is helping-out in homeless shelters or providing support to neighbours in need. The green movement has plenty of examples where we can show the positivity and strength of community action and we should focus more on these. 

For Hubbub we are intensely proud of the support that we have provided to over 80 diverse community groups who have established Community Fridges, helping redistribute healthy food that would have been wasted. For us this is the true spirit of a green Christmas showing that an environmental message and Christmas can go hand-in-hand.