Christmas is a time of excess in every way. From electricity usage to presents galore, an overload of food, packaging and energy. The festive season takes its toll on the environment, as well as our bodies and bank accounts.
It’s a time of fun, laughter and love. If we’re a little more aware, we can have a lovely time whilst being more mindful of the resources we are using. With a little effort and imagination you can have a planet-friendly Christmas. Here’s how…
Deck the Halls with Recycled Decorations
When decorating your home for Christmas, use the decorations that you already have. Or, buy ones made from recycled materials or from craft fairs to ensure they will last for years to come.
There are lots of eco-friendly decorations on the market now. For example, you can buy stockings and bunting made from recycled sari fabric. Instead of buying store-bought advent calendars, buy or make a fabric or wooden one. You can then fill it up with little gifts that you choose, year after year. Skip the disposables and use fabric napkins and tablecloths that can be washed and used again.
To save electricity, use fewer lights and make sure the ones you do use are LED. Put your lights on a timer so they can turn off automatically at a certain time. Remember, if you’re all congregated in the kitchen, to make sure the lights and TV are off in the living room!
Although artificial trees are reusable, they do use resources for manufacture and shipping. If you are interested in one, check out Gumtree, eBay or Freegle for a pre-loved tree.
Real trees are a preferred option as they are better for the environment. Try to buy a potted one that will have an extended life rather than being thrown away after the holiday. There is the option to recycle trees after Christmas in some local areas. You can even rent Christmas trees online. For an alternative tree, decorate a potted plant or spray a bunch of twigs and hang decorations from them.
Crafty Christmas Cards and Wrapping Paper
Get crafty and make your own Christmas cards or wrapping paper. Store-bought cards consume a vast amount of resources and will be thrown away within a few weeks at most. Homemade Christmas cards are thoughtful, personal and fun, and are appreciated even more.
E-cards are becoming much more the norm these days, so you can send your Christmas spirit online instead of using paper. An increasing trend on social media is to send a small donation to charity instead of sending a card. Or, reconnect with loved ones by making a festive phonecall!
Recycle as much as possible. Reuse old wrapping paper again, or buy recycled wrapping paper. Old comics, magazines or calendars also make great wrapping paper. Last year’s cards can be cut up to make festive postcards or gift tags. Or forget the gift tags all together and write straight onto the paper.
Whilst some gifts need to be bought new, there is no point in spending silly money on presents that won’t be used. Gifts are meant to be thoughtful. Think about making something homemade that you know the recipient will love. Or visit local craft fairs, boutiques, farmer’s markets or family run businesses. These are great for recycled or ethical gifts, and you can ask where they were made or came from.
A great idea to save on money and unwanted presents is to have a Secret Santa between friends or family members. Write down everyone’s name and place it in a hat. One by one you can pick out a name and this will be your recipient. Who picked who should be kept a secret and you can put all the presents in a pile so there is still an element of surprise. Establish a budget so that everyone will spend around the same amount. This way, everyone gives and receives one special present. No more stressing about buying good presents for everyone!
Festive Food – Watch the Waste
Most people make the mistake of buying too much food over Christmas. Then they either stuff themselves to prevent waste or throw most of it away. Write a practical list of everything you need before you shop.
- Try to shop locally, and choose seasonal produce (that includes Brussels sprouts!)
- Don’t buy items just because they’re traditional if no one actually enjoys them
- Make space in your freezer for leftovers, or get creative and turn them into something else
- Offer guests a doggy bag as they go home, so everyone can enjoy using up the leftovers
It’s easy to make your Christmas planet-friendly with just a little extra thought. You can still have a fabulous time whilst being mindful of the environment.