While Christmas sweaters are supposed to be a little bit of lighthearted fun, unfortunately, they have a bit of a dark side.
Christmas sweaters first hit the market in the 1950s (back then, they were called jingle bell sweaters), and over the following decades, they went in and out of fashion. But right now, they’re largely seen as a wholesome, nostalgic, joyful addition to the holiday season. The uglier, the better. There’s just one problem: After the festive season, they often end up in the trash.
According to 2019 research by U.K. environmental charity Hubbub, one in three adults under 35 buy a new Christmas sweater every year, which means the old one is likely thrown away. And because they’re often made with synthetic materials, like plastic-derived polyester, they won’t biodegrade.
The trend for ugly Christmas jumpers doesn’t seem to be slowing down — even fast fashion is getting in on the act. At the time of writing, a quick search for “Christmas sweater” on the Shein website brings up 15 pages of results (not just for adults, but for kids and companion animals, too).
But, the good news is, there are many ways to enjoy a little bit of festive style without hurting the planet.
How to enjoy festive knitwear without the environmental impact
If you love treating yourself to a new Christmas sweater every year, consider holding on to yours this year instead of throwing it away. Next year, organize a fun festive sweater swap with friends. You can break out the holiday tunes, cookies, and mulled wine, too, to make it feel extra Christmassy.
You can also choose to buy from thrift stores or vintage markets, and another option is to rent, too. In the U.K., rental platform By Rotation has even teamed up with budget supermarket Lidl to offer a Christmas sweater rental service to offer a Lidl-themed design for just £2 per day.
“With Christmas being one of the top occasions of the year when the demand for purchasing single-wear outfits skyrockets, renting a festive jumper for your holiday season plans is a great way to leave a positive impact on the planet and also save money,” Eshita Kabra, By Rotation CEO, told the Daily Mail.
Timeless sustainable knitwear, perfect for the holidays
Another sustainable option is to find a sweater you really love, from a brand you respect, and to wear it every single year. Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorite sustainable holiday sweater options. They’re nowhere near as ugly as your stereotypical Christmas sweater, in fact, they’re not ugly at all. They’re stylish, cozy, and festive, and offer a subtle nod to the holiday season without being garish, making them the perfect timeless investment.
Amour Vert’s Faedra Organic Cotton Sweater
Crafted from eco-friendly organic cotton, this sweet, cozy, festive sweater from Amour Vert radiates Christmas cheer thanks to the cable knit stitching and vibrant red color. Amour Vert (which translates to “green love” in French) is a sustainable brand you can trust. It’s dedicated to crafting clothing that transcends trends, emphasizes quality and comfort, and always boasts a timeless aesthetic.
Stella McCartney’s Pearl Embroidery Oversized Jumper
You can usually count on Stella McCartney for some sustainable elegance, and with this oversized sweater, embroidered with faux pearls, the label doesn’t disappoint. It’s the perfect timeless and classic choice for Christmas time, plus it’s versatile, too. Dress it down with leggings for a cozy festive morning, or dress it up with a skirt and heels for your next festive party.
Baukjen’s Flossie Ecotec Jumper
If you prefer something snug and neat-fitting, check out Flossie from London-based eco-friendly brand Baukjen. Crafted from ECOTEC cotton, the sweater features an adorable scalloped neckline, plus it’s comfortable and vibrant, too, thanks to the lively, festive green color.
Nudie Jean’s Fair Isle Vest
Nudie Jeans is known for, well, jeans. But in great news for conscious consumers, this sustainability-focused Swedish brand also makes cozy knits, too. This cozy cardigan vest, featuring an ultra-festive Fair Isle pattern, is made with 100 percent organic cotton.
Minuit sur Terre’s Boreal Organic Cotton Jumper
French brand Minuit Sur Terre specializes in cruelty-free, vegan footwear, but it also makes some pretty cozy sweaters. We love this cable knit sweater, which is as sweet and stylish as it is warm and cozy. Thanks to the vibrant red color, it’s a great Christmas choice, too.
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