1. Donate to charity instead of sending cards to clients

Although it is lovely to select your client Christmas card list each year and hand-write cards to your favourite clients, these cards may be producing a bigger footprint than you think. According to Imperial College researchers, an astonishing 1.5 BILLION Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households every year!

This year, instead of sending Christmas cards, why not make a donation to your favourite charity? Not only will you be helping to support vital work of charities, but you will also be cutting your carbon footprint (as well as saving a lot of time!). But don’t forget to tell your clients! A social media post thanking them for ‘their’ contribution would be a lovely gesture.

2. Choose sustainable cards

If you can’t bear to think of not sending cards to your loyal clients, then at least make sure you are sending sustainable and ethical cards. Ensure your cards are forest friendly by checking they hold the FSC logo. Perhaps you could even go a step further and use plant-able cards? Once they have been admired, they can be planted to produce beautiful flowers for your clients.

Alternatively, you could send all your clients a Christmas e-card, cutting your carbon footprint, saving trees and saving your practice money too! You could include a photo of your team or some of your favourite festive patients.

3. Use a real Christmas tree

According to The Woodland Trust, artificial trees are less environmentally-friendly than real trees as most are made from non-recyclable plastic. The carbon emissions generated to produce artificial trees are also very high. If you do opt for an artificial tree (or already have a practice one), try to use it for as long as possible to reduce the environmental impact.

Perhaps the most environmentally-friendly option is to buy a tree with roots, meaning it can be planted again after Christmas. Remember to look out for that FSC accreditation again when picking your tree. The smell of a real Christmas tree in the waiting room is guaranteed to bring Christmas-y joy to everyone!
Some garden centres and tree nurseries even offer a Christmas tree rental scheme! This allows you to rent your Christmas tree in a pot and return it to the growers afterwards! The tree is then reused in future years.

Once Christmas is over, remember to recycle your Christmas tree properly. Local councils will often have a recycling programme where the tree will be shredded and used as mulch.

4. Use sustainable decorations

A great way to help the environment this Christmas is by switching to LED Christmas lights. LED lights use less energy than standard incandescent lights which makes them a more energy efficient choice.

Instead of using ‘traditional’ decorations to decorate your practice tree, how about letting clients decorate it instead? Using old Christmas tags, reused Christmas cards or simple paper decorations, clients can dedicate a decoration to a beloved lost pet and hang it on the tree. Clients really seem to like this idea and it saves you having to buy carbon-emitting, plastic decorations.

5. Hold a collection for charity

This year, more than others, charities need our support. Why not hold a collection for your local animal charity? Ask clients to donate pet food, toys, bed etc. You could even get your reps involved too and see what companies can offer!

Or instead of an animal charity, you could support your local food bank and ask for donations of food and toiletries to support your local community. Food banks will often have a list of specific items they need on their website. Clients may even have these items already in the back of their cupboards, which could help to reduce food waste.

6. Reduce food waste

The generosity of our clients knows no bounds, and I don’t think even COVID-19 could stop them spoiling us with delicious, sugary food this Christmas!

I have worked in a practice where the Christmas tradition was to ‘raffle off’ the Christmas gifts kindly given by clients (you know, those 12 half-eaten boxes of biscuits in the staff room…). The gifts were kept until there was enough for everyone, then each gift was given a number and every staff member picked a number to receive their gift! It worked really well and added a little fun to the day!

If you are feeling extra generous this year, you could donate any unwanted (term used loosely!) gifts to your local food-bank to spread the love.

7. Stock sustainable pet gifts

Many clients will be looking for gifts to spoil their fluffy friends this Christmas, so why not offer them something sustainable this year? For example, Beco Pets usually do an adorable Christmas range of sustainable pet toys. See what your suppliers have to offer or check out local businesses.

8. Feed local wildlife

If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space at your practice, why not add a bird feeder to help your local wildlife through the cold months? Plummeting temperatures can make it very hard for birds to find food over winter, which is why it’s nice for us to provide them with a helping hand. If you want to go all out, you can even install a bird bath too to provide a fresh water source. As with any of our patients, remember to keep these areas clean and hygienic at all times to prevent the spread of diseases.

Not only does this help your local wildlife, but things like this can even have a positive effect on staff too, helping to lower anxiety, stress and even depression. Win-Win!

Whatever you choose to do this year, remember to REDUCE / REUSE / RECYCLE.

For Merryn’s most recent blog, click here!