Have yourself a green Christmas
A little change can make a big impact. And this Christmas we are asking for your help! The festive season is a special time of year, as holiday cheer fills our homes, more waste than ever fills our bins.
But what can you do to make your Christmas more sustainable?
To combat waste this year, we want to share some of our favourite tips for a greener season, and even more reasons to be jolly!
Consider it your present to the earth this Christmas.
1) Get inventive with your gifts.
Presents don’t have to cost the earth, or harm it. Too often we buy our loved ones presents that get unused or even thrown out, especially when panic buying, if we are unsure of what to gift people. Choose a gift that lasts, by giving something with purpose or meaning, that will hold more value with the recipient.
Making your own presents for people show that you have spent time and effort in creating something you think they’ll love. A great homemade gift is food, especially sweet treats! Cookies and Christmas? The perfect combo.
Instead of buying them their favourite flowers, which will eventually wilt and have to be thrown away, buy them seeds or a potted plant so that they can continue to grow them long after Christmas, and will survive the test of time.
Support small independent businesses, to boost a sustainable local economy and you’ll be sure to seek out special finds that you’re recipient doesn’t already have!
Or go the extra mile and donate to charity in their name, an act of kindness goes a long way.
2) Plant happiness with plantable Christmas cards.
1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away in the UK alone each year, according to Imperial College researchers. So why not try a zero-waste alternative? Spread the message of sustainability by sending a plantable card to your loved ones this year! When the biodegradable paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds will grow and eventually the paper will decompose.
Cards with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark guarantee that the paper used has been produced ethically and can be recycled or composted when you are ready to take them down after Christmas.
Many big name companies, such as Ruby & Bo, now offer a wide range of eco-friendly festive cards embedded with seed packets, or made with seed paper, their cards and decorations can be found at; https://www.rubyandbo.com/
Even better, you can recycle old Christmas cards to make decorations such as gift labels for next year!
3) In with the old out with the new!
Instead of purchasing new items, try to upcycle items you already have. Upcycling is a very important part of eco-friendly living as it keeps waste out of landfills. It can also be very cost effective, which is very handy around Christmas time when everyone is a bit strapped for cash.
It could be an item of clothing, furniture, decoration, anything can be upcycled! Additionally, it will mean more that you took the time to create instead of buy.
Great examples of easy upcycling include making candles from leftover crayons. You can even use old teacups/mugs to hold your candles in! You can learn how to make these here; https://www.turningclockback.com/diy-decorative-candle-holders-old-coffee-mugs/
Or for the little ones, you can make a sock teddy, that only requires one old sock and minimal sewing capabilities! Follow this guide for a cute new animal friend to home this Christmas. https://www.sumoftheirstories.com/blog/2017/12/11/sock-teddy
4) Cracking Eco-friendly crackers.
One of the biggest contributors to waste over the Christmas period is actually the much-loved Christmas cracker, as most of them can’t be recycled and the plastic toys are usually tossed in the bin before the meal is even over.
Instead of buying your usual Christmas crackers that only provide a few seconds of joy at the dinner table, but years of grief for our planet, opt for recyclable or even reusable crackers! They are equally as inexpensive and can become a festive staple.
Or for a more personal touch, you can make your own crackers! That way you can source your own recyclable materials and fill them with plastic-free gifts that you’ll be sure your loved ones will actually enjoy.
5) Rethink your wrapping
Every household in the UK will use an average of 4 wrapping paper rolls each year at Christmas, which totals a whopping 227,000 miles of wrapping paper. The majority of this won’t be recycled. So why not change it up this year and use newspaper (or if you can contain the excitement and unwrap your presents carefully, you could reuse that)
You can jazz the newspaper up by using ribbon, which you can use again. The newspaper can easily be recycled. Not only is it kinder to the environment, but it will save you money too!
6) Buy a rooted tree
Many people purchase a Christmas tree without a second thought. You can buy reusable Christmas trees and use them again and again. However, they are usually made from plastic and normally cost the same as a real Christmas tree. Instead, buy a rooted Christmas tree, so that when it’s time to bring down the decorations, you can replant the tree. A small step that will save your tree and help the planet.
7) Make your own advent calendar
We all love the excitement of opening up a little door and finding a surprise every day in December. But the majority of advent calendars these days seem to be 75% plastic, 15% cardboard and 10% chocolate. Making your own advent calendar means some creative fun but you can also add whatever you would like in each door. You can make them from any material, and sew a few pockets on. Or you can order one online, if you don’t have any excess material.
If you aren’t a chocolate lover, try popping in sweets, gin, positive quotes or some garden seeds. These are a few options which are exciting and will be even more special because you made it.
8) Shop sustainably
Many major companies don’t care about how they may be affecting the planet. This Christmas, help out independent, sustainable brands, who make it their mission to help the planet. The likelihood with sustainable brands is that they are much smaller scale, so shopping with them would help them become better known and improve their business.
Here are a few businesses who want to help the planet as much as we do:
- Saqari swimwear – Made in Devon, England, this brand sends all of their swimwear in recyclable packaging. Every single package is sent with a personal message, adding something special to your gift.
- Rapanui – Clothing company, Rapanui, uses natural materials to make their clothing. Their products are made to be sent back once they’re worn out. They also have a great initiative, if you send them an item of clothing back that is worn out, they will send you a coupon to use for another purchase.
- Good things – This brand is all about gift giving. Good things finds gifts that are made sustainably and that support charities for all ages. All of their gifts are sent in 100% recyclable and plastic-free packaging.
There are so many brands that are sustainable, and their products are normally much better quality.
Our planet is for life, not just for Christmas. Make it your mission to help the planet this Christmas. Whether that’s through buying a Christmas tree with a root or gifting someone with a plantable card, we can all make small changes that will give the planet the best gift. A sustainable Christmas.
By Helen Hunt and Isabel Astill