Have yourself a sustainable little Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year once again. The time to be jolly, spend time with your loved ones, and of course, give presents. It’s so wonderful that most of the time we forget about the dark side of it – increased waste production. In this Christmas oriented lesson, we look at the negative impact of the holiday on the environment and think of different ways of preventing it.

I always struggled when preparing a Christmas themed lesson. I stay away from doing the same things students do at school. I don’t come anywhere near anything religious. Last year I learnt my lesson. I prepared a festive class, all about traditions and gift-giving. There was a tiny problem, though. One of my students didn’t celebrate Christmas, and she couldn’t care less about it. It got me thinking about Christmassy lessons. Lessons that would be inclusive and engaging for everyone.

My inner environmental engineer got all excited when one specific topic had crossed my mind – the wastefulness of Christmas and how it can be prevented. It’s not only thought-provoking but will also give some room to speak for those who don’t celebrate Christmas but can relate to any other occasion with presents.

In this lesson plan, we explore solid waste production and how to prevent it during the merriest holiday of the year. Go to the end of the post and get your files for free.

The class starts by discussing students annual waste production and when they think their waste production is the highest. Ask about their % increase in waste production during the holiday season. Share the answers and ask if they were surprised. Another way of doing this lead-in is by splitting the class into smaller groups and asking them to predict the weight of waste produced annually and the percentage increase. You can get the answers by saying more or less. According to Eurostat, on average in the EU people produce 502 kg of waste per capita. The average monthly consumption is increased by 30% during the festive season, as reported by Biffa.

Proceed by asking another Christmas oriented question – why do we produce more rubbish at Christmas time? Students work in pairs and think of possible reasons and culprits of higher waste production. Once everyone is done and shares their answers with the rest of the class, read part 1 of the text by phs Wastekit and check if the predictions were correct. Continue with reading for detail. Students read sentences 1-5 and decide whether they are true (T), false (F), or the answers aren’t given in the text (NG).

Moving onto the second part of the text. Students look at six pictures and quickly read Part 2 of the text to find the words that best describe them. Explain any other additional words that may interfere with the reading experience. Look at the Christmas tree and decorations and brainstorm the answers as a group. Collecting ideas about reducing waste caused by Christmas trees and decorations will set an example and will give an idea of how to end this task in groups. Any appropriate and logical answers can be accepted. The answers can range from reusing artificial Christmas trees, buying local natural Christmas trees, recycling Christmas ornaments, and so on. Afterwards, divide everyone into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss ways in which these problems can be solved. Finish by going over additional solutions and dividing them into Christmas trees and decorations, Shopping and gifts and food and beverages.

Finish the class by discussing if students agree with any of the solutions and if they’re going to implement them this year. Ask if they believe that making such small changes have any significant impact on their surroundings.

So this is my idea of dealing with the Christmas topic. I know that talking about the environment and ways of protecting it, especially during such a magical time, may not be the happiest one to do. However, it’s important to talk about it and bring awareness, so we can all have a sustainable Christmas this year. How are you going to celebrate Christmas in your classroom this year?

Get your lesson plan and worksheet for free by clicking the files below! Merry Christmas!