Avoid a winter wasteland by making Christmas 2019 an eco-friendly one.
It may only be mid November, but let’s face it, Christmas has a nasty habit of creeping up FAST! So, this year why not be more prepared and take a more mindful approach to the festive season.
Ok, so we understand there’s lots to plan and arrange when it comes to Xmas prep, but if you embed the ethos of aiming for zero waste festivities and stick to a few basic rules, it may be easier than you think.
Let’s break it down….
First thing’s first – re-use, re-use re-use! Christmas isn’t a catwalk. Fashion comes and goes but Christmas is for life. Trend goes out of the window and cliché and kitsch are invited in.
Before you rush off to the shops take a good look at the decorations you already have and embrace your old baubles, bells and tinsel. Use what you own, and, if you don’t have the items you want, check out the local charity shops.
If you’re dedicated to more chic approach decide on a colourway and use your imagination…. just because an item isn’t an ‘official’ Christmas decoration, it still has potential. If the colour’s right, it could work. Think about using old vases or glasses stuffed with coloured fairy lights or decorating plant pots with ribbons in your festive shade. Homemade wine cork tree garlands are easy to create from wine corks strung together and are super easy to spray in your chosen Christmas colour. Asking friends and family if they have an excess amount of ornaments or Christmas decorations, they no longer want is another great way to accumulate a few extra festive pieces.
The bottom line for this is to use what you have and refuse to purchase anything brand new – it’s a simple mindset
When it comes to the actual tree, there has been much debate over whether real or artificial is more sustainable. Ultimately, it comes down to how many years you will use the artificial tree for.
A real tree is sustainable IF it is composted property at the end of its life, artificial is best if it is used for 15 years or more! On the fake side to go one step further, consider purchasing a second hand one from a charity shop.
If you only plan to use your artificial tree for this year, or if your only option for a real tree is to dispose of it in landfill, then it might be best to opt for a ‘tree alternative’ such as one made from sticks and twine!
Sustainable gifts such as those featured on websites such as Wearth.co.uk have increased immeasurably. From sustainable clothing and garments, to eco-friendly stationary, there are many green gifts that can be purchased.
If someone specifically needs or wants a specific item there is certainly value in purchasing it for them. However, in the thousands of scenarios where someone simply isn’t sure what they want, a great alternative may be to purchase an ‘experience’. This year my present to my family will be a ‘locked in a room experience’ where you work as a team to figure a way out – a great way to spend time together and have some fun!
From meals vouchers, cinema and theatre tickets, to adopting an animal, donating to charity or a spa massage, gifts like this don’t leave the recipient with items they don’t want that will eventually end up in the waste bin. Instead they generate good feeling and experiences that won’t be forgotten.
When it comes to kids’ gifts, it might be tempting to purchase a pile of brand-new plastic toys but stop and think: will these toys get used or will they be a one-minute wonder? Will they contribute to the world’s waste?
The most important thing is to discover what your child truly wants and ask them to prioritise the things they simply must have. Don’t be afraid of second-hand. Online trading platforms are great places to find full sets of kids’ figurines, books and toys at a fraction of the price and the kids will never know that Santa has gone sustainable!
The Wrapping paper
Unfortunately, most gift wrap paper isn’t recyclable. Glitter, foil and shiny coatings make the paper impossible to process. Furthermore, after it’s been ripped apart in anticipation of the gift inside, it isn’t re-usable either. Gift bags might face the same issues with recycling if they have a shiny coating (which most do) but at least they are re-usable and I for one use them time and time again.
A great alternative is wrapping the item in plain paper and tying a colourful ribbon around it.
If you simply can’t face losing the wrapping paper, make sure you opt for wrapping that is made from recycled fibres.
The Christmas Card
There are some traditions that simply do not have a sustainable focus. Christmas cards for example are very similar to wrapping – only those that have a plain design without glitter, tinsel or sheen can be recycled, that’s without considering the envelopes. A fantastic alternative is to send a Christmas email to friends and family and donate the cost you would have spent on postage to your favourite charity.
There are many sustainability aspects to food – food waste, packaging and meat carbon emissions are just some. Here are the basic rules:
Plan: have a tight design to your menu and only buy what you need – don’t get tempted by special offers or two for one deals. Most food waste is caused by over-purchasing. Christmas is one occasion where it is completely acceptable to ask your guests’ preferences in advance, initiate portion control and limit choices.
Consider less meat: as a vegetarian it is easy for me to suggest a nut roast, but if this isn’t your chosen route select your meat carefully. Opt for organic and avoid gluttony – stick to one type of meat and remember that buying the hugest turkey under the premise that you’ll enjoy turkey sandwiches for weeks to come is an illusion. You’ll be sick of it by boxing day so go for a smaller bird if you can to minimise food waste.
Packaging: Take your own containers to the supermarket or paper bags to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging waste
Plating up: We all eat too much at Christmas, don’t be tempted to pile on the food. Hungry mouths can always ask for second helpings!
Freezing: If you’ve bought more than you’ve used, consider what can be frozen for future use.
Composting: Whatever you do it is likely to be impossible to avoid some element of food waste, but don’t just put this in the bin, compost it – use this guide to composting for more info.
Christmas is a time for parties, lots of them! None of us like to be seen in the same outfit twice but that’s no excuse for frivolity. Online trading platforms, charity shops and friends’ closets are great places to find something unique.
If you simply must buy something new, choose sustainable fabrics and consider recycling some of your worn Christmas clothes by taking them to the Salvation Army charity shops or clothes bins.
This blog has just touched the tip of the ice-burg when it comes a zero waste Christmas, we’d love to hear more ideas from you so feel free to comment below!