The real cost of


Each year most of us eagerly wait for Christmas. From getting together with friends and family to baking Christmas cookies and decorating the Christmas tree, the joy of the season is hard to beat. Giving and receiving presents is surely a big part of the celebration. We spend a lot of time thinking about what to give to our loved ones and even then, sometimes it is a rushed decision. In any case our consumption goes up many folds. Ever thought what this means in numbers?

The art of waste!

There is a substantial increase in waste during Christmas time.

25% increase in household waste during Christmas
1 Million tons of additional waste during Christmas

The unpleasant present! 

In the UK alone, it is estimated that each person will spend an average of £435 on Christmas gifts with the most popular choices being clothes, books, music, cosmetics and fragrances. This generates a carbon footprint of 310 kg of CO2/person – about 20% of each individual’s yearly average. The estimated amount spent on unwanted gifts is £92 per person or £4 billion in total. This is equivalent to 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 being produced from unwanted gifts.

Estimated average spend on Christmas per person
CO2 Emission generated from Christmas consumption

Christmas is in the air!

Greenpeace recently reported that as little as 1kg of wrapping paper emits 3.5Kg of CO2 during its production process. This is just the production of the paper and not its further packaging and transportation, as well as its waste once purchased and used.

Emissions generated during Christmas from wrapping paper

Christmas in the UK could result in as much as 650 kg of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) per person – equivalent to the weight of 1,000 Christmas puddings! You can’t imagine eating that many Christmas puddings so why foist them on Mother Earth?

CO2 Emissions generated per person during Christmas

Let’s wrap up!

The amount of wrapping paper thrown away in the UK alone is enough to stretch from Earth to the Moon. That’s almost 240,000 miles of wrapping paper!

Wrapping paper wastage during Christmas

Here’s what you can do!

Refurbish Christmas presents

I was once invited to a Christmas party where we were only allowed to bring things that we didn’t want any more as Christmas presents. The thought of it was so off-putting that I didn’t wanted to go. Since it was a close friend I decided to show up. I was amazed to see what cool stuff people brought to the party. Old DVDs, books, games, paintings, plants and what not. The best part was everyone felt a deep connection to each present because they all had personal stories behind them.

Buy sustainable presents.

It is not always possible to give refurbished presents, especially not to your future mother-in-law! In these cases, it’s surely worth checking if the person needs the item you are planning to give. This assures that the gift will not end up in the unwanted gift pile mentioned above. Buying sustainable gifts considerately, is best for the giver, the receiver and the planet.

Here’s a quick guide: What to look for in a sustainable present.

1. Materials: Look for 100% biodegradable materials. All natural materials such as wood, plant, wool, cashmere, silk, and cotton are biodegradable materials. Here’s a helpful graphic on how long different materials take to decompose.

How long materials take to decompose

2. Production process: Most sustainable companies like ours are transparent and open about their production practices. Usually you can find this information on their websites. We recommend looking for following 6 sustainability factors:

Womens employment
Gender Equality
Child Labor
Work place safety
Waste management

3. Packaging and finishing: Check for materials used for packaging of finished products. A truly sustainable company should refrain from using plastic in their packaging, labeling and product price tags. At Elephant Cross, we take this a step further by not only making plastic free packaging/finishing we also make it in a way that it can be used as a gift wrap which comes in handy at this time of year!

4. Transport: While local production is always championed by sustainability warriors, one must understand that unless a product is produced in your house or delivered on a bike there are always CO2 emissions generated in the transportation of goods. So, look for whether a company is offsetting transport emissions or not. Several transport companies offer the calculation behind CO2 generated during the transportation of goods, which can then be offset by investing in ecological projects.

5. Cause: Several brands are investing in social causes. Choose one that contributes to a cause that resonates with you and also check how the investment is being made. Is the project reliable or not? All this information can usually be found on a brand’s website.

At Elephant Cross, we are committed to all the above mentioned sustainability promises and additionally with every sale we donate 5% towards the Ocean Cleanup project.

Join the party!

Consumer trends are showing that UK households spent almost twice as much on ethical goods last year as they did five years ago. In other countries, ethical goods are also gaining in popularity with consumers wanting their products to make smaller footprints; environmentally, humanly and morally.

We can make sure that we are buying gifts not just for the sake of giving but for the recipient to cherish and keep for years to come. In the UK alone not giving unwanted goods could bring the Christmas shopping footprint down to 230 kg of CO2/person.

And finally let’s buy quality and not quantity. Ask yourself, would you rather receive one beautiful, well-crafted gift that will last a lifetime or 10 mass produced ones that will find their way into a landfill before next Christmas?



Never miss a blog from us. Receive Elephant Cross digital communications. Blog –