4 tips for cooking an eco-friendly Christmas dinner

Keep festive spirits high this season and make your Christmas dinner as environmentally friendly as possible. This means cutting down on carbon emissions by buying local, sustainably-produced food that isn’t wrapped in single-use plastic.

These days, start-ups offer all kinds of zero-waste products, including swaps for Christmas essentials, that will impress and inspire your party guests.

Here are just a few ways to keep your climate conscience from going crackers.

Buy local

Explore your local area to discover what’s produced nearby. This helps independent businesses, strengthens the local economy and completely eliminates carbon emissions from transporting goods from further afield. 

Golden roast potatoes taste so much better when they’re locally produced, too, and the UK has an abundance of them. For those living in England, The Community Farm in Bristol and Hackney City Farm in London, offer locally grown vegetables with a social purpose. While in Scotland, Dundee-based company The Potato House offers more potato varieties for planting than you may ever have realised existed.

Select seasonal veg

You might imagine that local, seasonal food might restrict what you eat. But buying seasonal produce opens up a world of possibilities, that can inspire more creative cooking and ensure you consume a wider range of nutrients. Winter vegetables like kale, beetroot and butternut squash, add a beautiful array of colours to your dinner plates. Use this pallet to make an artwork of your Christmas food, with plenty of ideas from the BBC’s seasonal recipe hub.

Avoid packaging

In order to cut down on waste and avoid overflowing bins this Christmas, try buying food in minimal packaging. Head to your local market to buy loose fruit and vegetables and collect them in your own, reusable shopping bags. You can find turkeys at local suppliers packaged in nothing more than a cardboard box. Additionally, you might want to prepare basics such as pastry yourself, avoiding pre-made items in excessive packaging.

Opt for eco-friendly table decorations

Nothing is more festive than a table set for Christmas dinner with crackers, decorations and treats. But when it all goes in the bin afterwards, that spoils the fun, especially for the environment. So instead, try purchasing zero-waste decorations or make your own from upcycled materials.  

Soy candles offer a sustainable alternative to beeswax ones, and by punching holes in tin cans, you can create attractive lanterns for the candlelight to shine through. 

If making homemade crackers is a bit time-consuming for you, buy reusable ones. A new startup, Keep This Cracker, sells Christmas crackers that you can put back together again and reuse the following year. 

Avoid food waste

When bellies are full and it’s time to clear up don’t get tempted to shovel all the leftovers in the bin. Freeze the remaining food or carefully store it in the fridge. Meanwhile, vegetable peel and bones can make a wonderful stock – tis’ the seasoning to make the perfect soup.

Watch: How to reduce waste this Christmas