Sustainable Christmas Guide: Tips For An Eco-Friendly Festive Season
Over the past few years my family and I have focused less on the aesthetic and material sides of Christmas, gradually reducing our decorations to natural, organic materials and an upcycled tree made from driftwood, and gifting just one small thoughtful gift each - like a handmade candle - if any. I think we all came to the realisation that spending huge amounts for what was just a few days was a waste of money and resources.
Don’t get me wrong - I love this time of year - but I don’t believe we should feel like we have to gift gifts just for the sake of gifting them, especially when its nothing we really need. Most of us already have enough shit bursting out of our bathroom cupboards, chest of drawers and storage space underneath the bed that we never use, right? And I think it’s safe to say the best part about Christmas above all, is the quality downtime we enjoy with loved ones; pulling crackers, arguing over the Monopoly board, watching Home Alone and lip syncing to George Michael.
If you’re keen to minimise your consumption and your impact on the planet this year, check out the tips below for a greener Christmas.
1. WASTE REDUCTION
Here’s a fun fact for you. Each year Britain collectively throws away over 250,000 miles of wrapping paper – enough to wrap around the earth 9 times. NINE TIMES. Instead of using single-use wrapping paper which’ll get chucked the moment the present is unwrapped, why not opt for reusable, compostable alternatives like discarded newspaper and string, reusable muslin cloths, or these gorgeous, multi-use Japanese knot-wraps from LUSH that can be used again and again and again as an accessory, scarf or tote bag.
Decorations & Cards
Get creative and make your own decorations with fresh pine needle branches, pine cones, sprigs of holly, cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices and recyclable artisan tealights. As for cards, switch to paperless and send one via email instead. Keep the ones you receive and either cut them up to use as gift tags or send them on to someone else next year.
Food waste and packaging
Plan your meals in advance. Work out how many mouths you’re feeding and how many times, and then head to your local farmer’s market or organic food shop with your reusable shopping bags in tow to avoid plastic packaging. Be mindful not to buy or cook an excessive amount of food so as to avoid waste, and if you do end up overdoing it – be inventive and make sure you use it all up over the coming days.
Give your tree a second life and give it back to the earth by either replanting it in your garden, dropping it off at a recycling centre where it can be chipped for walk paths or turned into soil, organising a special collection service with your local council, or safely cutting it up and burning it on a bonfire or a fireplace. Burning your tree is actually less harmful to the planet than dumping it at landfill to decompose, because burning it just releases the carbon dioxide it stored when it was growing, whereas when its left to decompose it releases methane gas, which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
2. ALTERNATIVE GIFT GIVING
Grow a gift
Gifting flowers, plants or herbs is such a lovely, eco-friendly gift that will last well beyond Christmas Day (providing your recipient takes care of it!). Get your green fingers on and either buy a bouquet of flowers that can be pressed afterwards, an assortment of seeds to gift in drawstring bags, or source a pot from a second-hand or vintage shop and buy a beautiful indoor plant to spruce up your loved one's home.
Make a gift
Whether it's homemade chocolate, biscuits, mince pies cake, mulled wine, candles, collages - something made personally by you, by hand, is such a lovely touch that'll show your friends and family you've really gone to an effort.
Plan a gift
The opportunities are endless here - concert / theatre tickets, a spa / retreat day, rock climbing passes, a dance workshop, a life-drawing class... Create a memory with someone that will stay with you for years to come. These have always been the gifts I remember over anything material I've ever been given. It's also a win-win as you get to experience something new too. This year, my boyfriend and I will be heading to a New Moon Temazcal ceremony in Tulum as my Christmas present to us both. Two guesses for whose idea that was... certainly not his!
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