10 eco-friendly Christmas tips

Round & About

Windsor Great Park

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means just a little bit more” – read the top tips from Plastic Free Home for a more sustainable festive season

It’s not often we quote the Grinch, but in this case, and perhaps now more than ever, Dr Seuss’ fictional character is spot on.

For most Christmas is a magical time of year but it is also one of significant and unnecessary waste and excess.

If we are to get serious about tackling the climate emergency, then even the festive season shouldn’t be off limits when it comes to making much needed changes.

Below are 10 top tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas and put ‘a more sustainable future’ at the top of your wish list…

Avoid the gimmicks

From pre-packed ‘reindeer food’ (what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned carrot?!) that can be harmful to wildlife, to Christmas Eve boxes full of matching pyjamas and quickly discarded novelties, try not to get sucked into the latest fads.


Think quality, not quantity. Maybe introduce shared gift lists or a secret Santa to encourage everyone to buy less and to help save on unwanted items. When shopping, consider what gifts are made of, who by and where and how they can be reused, recycled or disposed of when someone is finished with them. Aim to buy presents that are produced ethically, sustainably and here in the UK wherever possible, and shop independently if you can. Buy pre-loved, recycled or sustainably sourced clothing, opt for toys that are well made and will last for generations, ditch big brand toiletries in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives and give homemade gifts, experiences or your time in place of ‘things’.

Wrapping paper

It isn’t an exact science but if you scrunch wrapping paper into a ball and it stays that way, it’s more likely that it’s plastic free and can be recycled. Even better, use recycled kraft paper, which is both home compostable and recyclable, and more likely to be free of harmful inks. Avoid gift bags if you can as many aren’t 100% recyclable and a high proportion are never reused and, crucially, avoid plastic sticky tape! Paper tape is readily and cheaply available online, compostable and recyclable and skip the bows, gift tags and ribbon or find reusable and recyclable alternatives.


Of course, the obvious answer would be to avoid cards altogether. If that’s a step too far, aim to buy cards that are made from recycled, FSC (sustainable) or seed paper and free from non-biodegradable glitter, badges and plastic wrapping. Or get crafting and make your own!


Again, you could opt to avoid crackers completely or, again, why not make your own, reusable, ones? If you do decide to buy some, try to ensure they are both recycled and recyclable and free of plastic prizes.


If you already own an artificial tree, enjoy it year after year for as long as you can. As and when you are in need of a new one, consider instead a real tree that is FSC or Soil Association approved. Or, you can now even rent a real tree, with the tree replanted after Christmas and used again next year!

Advent calendars

Make or buy a reusable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free and ideally Fairtrade treats. Anything wrapped in foil or delicious chocolates from the likes of Divine or Tony’s Chocolonely are among the better options. The growing trend of more expensive, toy-filled calendars just means more unnecessary waste.

Christmas lunch

Can you buy your meat unwrapped from a local butcher, and your vegetables loose from a local greengrocer, farm shop or certain supermarkets? Wherever possible, aim to avoid unnecessary packaging and only buy and prepare what you really need to avoid food waste. Or give a vegetarian or vegan Christmas a go!


Wine bottles with a (real) cork are a better option than a screw top because cork is home compostable and results in lower emissions. And take a look at some of the fantastic British wines available, from the likes of Stanlake Park, Windsor Great Park or Chapel Down, to cut down on imported goods and the miles associated with them. If you’re buying beer, avoid plastic packaging and of course opt for cans or glass instead. When it comes to other alcoholic or soft drinks, swap plastic bottles for glass or cans too.

At the end of it all

Importantly, ensure that you recycle and dispose of everything correctly when the fun is over. If in doubt, look online, contact your local council or drop Plastic Free Home a line! Prepare beforehand by getting bags or boxes ready for things like wrapping paper, cardboard and recyclable plastic and rescue and reuse anything you can next time. Remember to donate any unwanted leftovers to a charity shop or (if in date and unopened) food bank.

Not everyone can do everything but if we can each make changes, they really do add up.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas when it comes and let’s all cross our fingers and toes that Santa brings us a more positive year in 2024…

Created in 2018 by blogger and voluntary hack Dave Lamont, Plastic Free Home is an online community with more than 45,000 followers, aiming to seek and share information on how we can all live more sustainably. Visit www.theplasticfreehome.com or find Plastic Free Home on Facebook.

Windsor Lions back in the saddle

Round & About

Windsor Great Park

Popular cross country horse ride returns at Windsor Great Park

Windsor Lions are delighted their popular cross country horse ride in Windsor Great Park will be taking place this year on the weekend of 9th and 10th September.

Very sadly the event had to be cancelled last year due to the death of our much-loved queen, but such is the popularity of the ride that entries have now closed: the weekend is fully booked with riders numbering a fantastic 750 plus!

The ride, which is in its fifth decade, allows riders of all ages and mixed abilities to enjoy the nine-mile course around beautiful parkland otherwise inaccessible to many riders.

Event Organiser Richard Vaughan is very happy with the support for the ride: “We are so pleased that we can welcome riders back after the sad cancellation last year, and even more so as we have a number of new and exciting jumps which we are sure many will enjoy.

“The event takes place at the kind permission of the authorities in Windsor Great Park for which we are always very grateful. And of course, all the entry fees and sponsorship money from our wonderful riders and our generous commercial sponsor The Shanly Foundation, enables us to fund the great work that Windsor Lions Club carries out in the Community – such as Prostate Cancer Screening event earlier this year and our Santa Sleigh which will be back on the streets of Windsor in December.”

More information on the ride can be found at Volunteer | Windsor Lions

Trail blazers!

Liz Nicholls

Windsor Great Park

You can admire Surrey Sculpture Society’s talents at Savill Garden thanks to the Art in the Garden exhibition from 21st September until 1st November.

Marrying the vibrant colours of autumn with an equal variety of sculpture, this exhibition has become an annual event at The Savill Garden, one of Britain’s finest ornamental gardens.

Its 35 acres of gardens are perfectly sited within the boundaries of Windsor Great Park at Englefield.

This year, Art in the Garden Exhibition features 45 artists exhibiting more than 60 sculptures, all set off perfectly by the garden’s stunning seasonal highlights.

Visitors can expect the traditional and the experimental, from moving and thought-provoking to dainty and bold pieces, on a journey of discovery and enjoyment.

Surrey Sculpture Society chairman says: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the team at The Savill Garden to stage what has become an annual highlight in our calendar. It would be hard to improve on the gardens themselves, however, yet again the team have devised a new and intriguing trail allowing the sculptures and landscape to complement each other beautifully. We are thrilled to be able to showcase our artists’ work to the public in such a prestigious and welcoming venue.”

The society’s trail designer Dawn Conn adds: “I’ve been privileged to design this curated event that prides itself on showcasing and selling unique sculptural pieces in this beautiful outdoor setting. I’m excited to present the huge diversity of materials and mediums used in the sculptures: from stone to bronze, jesmonite to glass, mosaic to metals, rubber to resin, along with an increased focus on sustainability using more reclaimed timber, upcycled metal and recycled bronze.

Visitors can expect the traditional and the experimental, from moving and thought-provoking to dainty and bold pieces, on a journey of discovery and enjoyment.

Find out more

The Savill Garden is at Wick Lane, Englefield Green, TW20 0UU. Admission to the sculpture exhibition is included in entrance to The Savill Garden. For further info visit


and follow @WindsorGreatPark on Facebook, @WindsorGtPark on Twitter and @windsorgreatpark on Instagram.

Also visit surreysculpture.org.uk, follow @SurreySculptureSociety on Facebook and @surreysculpturesociety on Instagram.

Great & good

Round & About

Windsor Great Park

This festive season, look no further than Windsor Great Park as the setting for your family time together.

Free seasonal walks at Windsor Great Park

Keep active this season. Wrap up and embark on a family expedition in Windsor Great Park. From 01 December, follow one of our free seasonal walks* from The Savill Building. Take up the challenge to find a new favourite walk and discover more of the Great Park.

Vintage carousel and carriage rides at The Savill Garden

Big and little ones alike can take a spin on our popular vintage carousel or travel on horse and carriage through the winter woodland. The carousel will be at The Savill Garden from 14 -23 December and 26 December – 01 January inclusive. To book a carriage ride, email [email protected].

The Savill Garden Kitchen and Christmas shopping at The Savill Garden

Enjoy a warming dish from the Savill Garden Kitchen and shop from artisan suppliers from around the UK.  Remember to come along to one of our shopping evenings in The Savill Building, every Thursday in December until 7pm.

*Car park charges apply.

The Winter Garden in The Savill Garden**

Marvel at the variety of beautiful and fragrant plants that thrive in the winter months in The Savill Garden. Discover the flaming dogwoods and willows in the Winter Garden and the golden grasses from New Zealand. The Queen Elizabeth II Temperate House is the perfect place to enjoy plants from across the world, alongside our National Collection of Mahonia.

**Garden entry fees apply.

Christmas trees at Windsor Great Park

28 November – 22 December

Buy your freshly cut Christmas tree from Windsor Great Park, at Forest Gate SL4 2BY . With the helpful advice from the on-hand foresters, choose from trees ranging in height from 3 feet to 25 feet. Wreaths, fresh boughs of holly and mistletoe as well as a wide selection of decorations are also available.

More info

Great expectations

Round & About

Windsor Great Park

Youngsters – of all ages, from tots to teens – can enjoy a taste of wildlife and the countryside thanks to volunteers helping with events in Windsor Great Park, writes Peter Anderson

There are lots of super-natural events in Windsor Great Park’s educational centre.

Windsor Great Park Environmental Centre is an exciting five-year partnership project between the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and The Crown Estate. From the Nature Tots to the Young and Teen Ranger meetings, there are monthly sessions where children can get real hands-on experience of life in the countryside, and the flora and fauna you can find here, with guidance from skilled supervisors.

Nature Tots is a parent-and-toddler group with a difference. You can head along with your pre-school little one and introduce them to the great outdoors. The 90-minute sessions spend about the first 15 minutes outside before coming indoors and there are a wide-range of activities to spark their curiosity and have fun in natural surroundings. Each session will include seasonal nature discovery, games, crafts and lots of fun! Story-time and drinks also included. Children must be accompanied by a supervising adult, and younger brothers and sisters are welcome.

Young Rangers is a monthly wildlife group which meets in the early evening for children aged between eight and 12. Here they can become nature detectives and find all about the birds, bats, deer, mini-beasts and more, which live in the park and forest. Activities include pond-dipping, bug hunts, animal tracking, shelter building and bushcraft. Drinks will also be provided during the sessions, and they will require a signed consent form from an adult. There are two sessions per month, but the second one is a repeat to allow for any children who cannot make the first session.

Teen Rangers is a monthly group of budding naturalists aged between 12 and 16 who meet in the early evening. Here you can spend time in the forest discovering who and what lives there, but it may not be them you spot first! You may need to use your tracking skills, but you will have skilled volunteers and trainers from BBOWT to help you with that, as well as shelter-building and bushcraft, as you learn all about the flora and fauna in this marvellous location.

For further information on dates, times and suggested donations, please visit www.bbowt.org.uk. The website also has information on other events organised by the trust and how you can donate to help the valuable work BBOWT does to protect and preserve natural surroundings around the three counties.