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Green Goddess: Natalie Fee
Photograph: Natalie Fee

Dear Natalie: how can I have a greener Christmas without being a Scrooge?

Our Green Goddess agony aunt, eco campaigner Natalie Fee, answers your questions about sustainable living in the city

By Time Out London editors

Dear Natalie…

‘I always seem to end up with a pile of Christmas presents that I don’t want and never use, and I’m sure at least some of my family feels the same way. This year I’d really like to try and cut some of the clutter, and give and receive greener presents. But do you have any suggestions of what I can buy without looking like a total Scrooge?
Sam via email

Dear Tara…

I don’t want a lot this Christmas. There is just one thing I need: urgent action on the climate crisis!

With ‘climate strike’ being the Collins word (or two) of the year for 2019, there’s a good chance your loved ones could be open to a change. Often there’s one person in the family who leads by example – some more tactfully than others. Why not send a non-ranty/judgy/shamey group email or WhatsApp to your nearest and dearest and ask what they think about gifting green (presents, not weed) this Christmas?

Once you’ve got a sense of how many are keen, you can share some ideas there. Here are a few to spark some inspiration.

First, you could give experiences instead of presents. How about a day trip to the Knepp Estate in Sussex to get a first-hand experience of rewilding in action, or a Eurostar gift voucher so they can have a weekend break that opens their eyes to alternatives to flying? For the foodies in your life, vegetarian or vegan cookery courses (or secondhand cookbooks if you’re on a budget) are an amazing way to get people enjoying more plant-based meals.

Second, buy local instead of from chains, and secondhand instead of new. Have a look on eBay or Depop for pre-loved designer clothes and accessories online, or check out The Dresser on Porchester Place, which stocks amazing secondhand designer gear and does gift vouchers too.

Third, make it easy for your loved ones to make a difference. A personalised reusable bottle makes an amazing present, or check out the plastic-free gift sets from The Plastic Free Shop. (Or you could give them a copy of my book, for hundreds of ways to save the world for free!)

Whatever you buy, make sure to switch shiny paper, sticky tape and glittery cards – all of which are unrecyclable – for sustainable options like brown paper, old scarves, gift bags and paper tape. Time to start dreaming of a green Christmas!

Got a question for Natalie? Write to

Natalie Fee is an environmental campaigner, author and speaker. She founded the City to Sea non-profit, which campaigns against plastic pollution. Her book ‘How to Save the World for Free’ is published by Laurence King. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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