1st December – my tree is up, the Christmas music is on and I’m feeling festive!!! There is nothing I like more than Christmas! However, there is nothing I hate more than waste… The two have become synonymous. How do we break them apart?! Can Christmas be environmentally-friendly or at least environmentally-indifferent?! I hope so.
This is the first Christmas since I started to reduce my waste and think about the impact my life is having on the planet. It does feel like this year many people are pairing back “stuff” – taking stock of the waste normally involved. I’ve decided on a couple of key festive areas on which to focus – decorations and gifts.
Eco Christmas Decorating
I love the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house. I wanted to source a potted one this year in the hope that we can keep it alive for years to come (I shall need to defer to my green-fingered partner, here!!). There’s also more nurseries now offering Christmas tree rentals if you don’t have the space (or know-how) to keep it.
To keep the carbon footprint as low as possible, we found a locally grown, pot-grown tree. “Greta”, as our tree is now known, is not very tall but she is currently filling our house with beauty. (We always choose Scandinavian names for our Christmas trees – Bjorn, Sven etc. but this year it had to be Greta – after Miss Thunberg, who continues to inspire!)
If you’re more of an artificial tree person (or its just more practical) – make it last! If you need to purchase one – buy one second-hand! A pre-loved artificial tree, stored well, can last years. Apart from being cheaper, of course, it’s environmentally better as no additional resources have been used to make it. I love the idea that these can be passed on to future generations. It gives them sentimental value and adds them into family traditions. I would never rule out a fake tree – extending it’s life and saving it from the tip scores big sustainability points!
Sustainable Christmas Decorations
Like the clothes in my wardrobe, the most sustainable decorations are the ones I already own! I inherited some items and the rest of the tree decorations I have built up at the rate of one purchase per year- like “slow-fashion” for Christmas trees! Granted the tree was a bit sparse for a few years, but I didn’t have the money to fully kit out the tree plus this has allowed me to buy something beautiful and good quality rather than the quick-fix, multi-packs. My favorites are the traditional, paper mache ones (link to similar from the Ethical Superstore).
We don’t normally decorate the rest of the house much. The kids will be getting involved in making “snowflakes” from some scrap paper to decorate the windows and I love a good wreath!
I made our “permanent” wreath a couple of years ago. It is made on a a polystyrene ring (I shudder at the thought of buying this now) covered with second-hand baubles (thank you, eBay) and foraged for pine-cones. I do love it and it will come out every year with my other decorations. You could make something similar using a wire coat-hanger (Pinterest idea) and there are some beautiful natural wreaths around to bring more of the outside, in.
Presents giving should be enjoyable and fun, but when there’s lots of people to buy for, it can start to feel stressful… and expensive! Especially, those tricky to buy for! I don’t want to get people “stuff” they don’t want, leading to it generating!
For my young children, I am trying to source second-hand gifts… also I’m desperate to avoid huge amounts plastic that normally precedes children! Ebay and Facebook marketplace have been a great source of pre-loved items and we have found some great wooden toys that mine will love. We have decided to try to buy them items along the mantra of…
Something you want,
Something you need,
Something to wear,
Something to readPresent ideas for children
I love a craft and am lucky enough to own a sewing machine (and a lot of scrap fabric!). I shall be trying my hand at making some gifts this year like these cute fish laundry bags I found on Pinterest. I have been adding some of my favourite ideas into my Sustainable Christmas Ideas Board in case you want further inspiration.
My husband and I have a strict £20 limit. I like the challenge to find a gift that he will love on a modest budget! No spoilers here though!! Many people are surprised at this! We have done this for many years now – we would rather spend our money on going out together… when the rare opportunities arise!
This year, we have decided to buy gifts for the “children” in my extended family (I use that term in the loosest sense of the word as they start to become adults themselves!) and do a ‘Secret Santa’ for the (proper, ha ha) adults and grandparents. With many people to buy for this can be a great way to keep the costs down, lower the anxiety levels and find a great gift for just one person.
Experience or cash gifts can be great for avoiding “stuff” and experiences can generate lasting memories.
Where I am buying new gifts, I have tried to find sustainable, preferably independent retailers. There are some fabulous UK-based sustainable companies, making beautiful items. Below are the few I have personally come across*:
- Wyatt & Jack – up-cycling discarded inflatables and deckchairs into stunning, practical bags
- ReCycle and BiCycle – creating fantastic items from recycled bike parts
- Turtle-Doves – recycled cashmere gloves
*no affiliate links
If any of you follow me on Instagram, I am partial to a bit of Furoshiki, the Japanese art where fabric is used to gift-wrap presents. Hmmm… definitely don’t have enough scarves for all the Christmas presents! Christmas wrapping paper and sellotape often contains plastic and is not recycable. So this year, I going to go for a mixture of fabric, brown paper (last year the kids decorated it!) and newspaper tied with natural twine or paper ribbon for a plastic-free alternative. Not sure if I’ll have time but it’s super pretty too when you can add some sprigs the day before!
An origami paper box can be a beautiful way to present your presents! (ha ha, yep!). Again, Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration – I quite like the simplicity of these ones from Gathering Beauty.
I love seeing my special people and enjoying the time we have together. I want to make sure that, this Christmas, the gifts I give them don’t cost the Earth.
Merry Christmas, everyone!