Glitter. Try not to buy anything with glitter on it, which is most often plastic. M&S have announced that 2019 will be glitter free in their shop – hurrah!
Crackers. How many people enjoy wearing a paper hat? How useful are the gifts? How funny are the ‘jokes’? And you are left with a load of rubbish that will go into landfill. Perhaps write your own jokes or mottos, reuse paper crowns or have table gifts filled with useful items or sweets.
Christmas trees are a prickly problem. Real trees mostly come from monoculture farms requiring high levels of chemical input. Artificial trees encourage production of oil-based plastic – however if you already have an artificial tree keep using it for as long as you can. If you buy a real tree try to buy organic or FSC-certified and/or locally grown. Visit British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Avoid the drastic plastic of shop-bought Christmas decorations. Buy pre-owned decorations from charity shops, or make your own…
Go natural with your Christmas decorations. Take a bag, go for a walk, and see what you can find. Holly sprigs, ivy trails, pinecones, rose hips and bark can all be used. Make sure that you have permission from the land-owner before you start snipping!
Christmas candles look great and really add to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, most are made from paraffin, which gives off harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, as well as coming from the non-renewable resource of oil. Try candles made from beeswax, soy or other vegetable alternatives.
Lighting up for Christmas? Try switching them off during daylight hours, or saving them for a special hour each evening? Limiting their use to certain times and making sure that you have LED lights will help to save energy as well as save you money.
PRESENTS & CARDS
Keep Christmas cards to make Christmas tags next year. Recycle the section that carried the greeting and cut out the picture to use as a present tag. You’ll help reduce the huge number of trees that are used to provide all our Christmas tags.
Recycle or reuse the envelopes
Collect the stamps and give to a charity scheme.
Tons of wrapping paper are thrown away each year. Get your scissors ready for opening up all those presents on Christmas Day! Using scissors rather than ripping them open means you can keep the paper to re-use next year.
Use fabric remnants and ribbons as wrapping. Make simple draw-string gift bags in various sizes using Christmas material. You can store and re-use these for many years to come.
Use recycled brown paper and tie up with coloured ribbon – this looks great. If you have young children, encourage them to decorate the paper with their Christmas art.
See how many of your presents you can buy from a charity shop this year. You’ll be amazed what can be found when you take the time to look. A simple idea is to buy an attractive glass or vase and fill it with chocolates or flowers. Glass jars, such as Kilner jars filled with small items also make great gifts.
Suggest a £5 /£10 limit on presents for adult family members.
Avoid unwanted gifts that might end up in landfills. Give tickets for an event or a voucher for a massage/ facial. Or give the gift of your time instead, like the present of cooking for someone once a month for a year; taking them out for a coffee; babysitting; house cleaning – whatever is appropriate. Make a ‘gift voucher’ and put it in a card for them.
Avoid over packaged gifts – particularly those using plastic.
Many beauty products given as gifts contain palm oil. Its production causes mass deforestation and air pollution, as well as human right abuses. Check the labels and try to avoid products with non-sustainable palm oil.
Empty jars make beautiful candle-holders, decorated with some Christmas ribbon. If you don’t have any jam-jars, search charity shops for suitable glasses, vases etc. Make some for the Christmas table. If you have children, they might love this as a holiday project.
Make a list, check it twice and only include what’s naughty or nice … try not to over consume or be sucked in to spending more that you need by supermarkets.
Look for biscuits and chocolates in tins and try to avoid plastic containers.
We eat a lot of turkeys each Christmas. If you’re eating one of them, look out for free-range or organic from a local farmer or independent retailer, if you can afford it. A happy turkey is a tasty turkey… gobble, gobble, gobble. 😊
Are you nuts about Fairtrade? These are now available in Co-op, Sainsburys, Tesco and various independent retailers. Buying Fairtrade nuts will help overseas farmers make a decent living and encourage them to grow produce in a sustainable way.
Support farmers overseas by looking out for Fairtrade Christmas fruit and chocolate. You’ll be helping farmers from developing countries to make a decent living and grow their produce in a more ecologically sustainable way. http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Give home-made truffles a go, which is fun and will avoid packaging. Bring 175ml double cream to the boil. Pour over 225g plain chocolate, broken into chunks in a bowl. Mix until chocolate is melted. Leave the mixture for 1½ hours until cool. Using a small spoon and dipping your hands in icing sugar, scoop out pieces and roll them into balls. Roll the balls into cocoa powder, icing sugar, chopped nuts or mixed peel, and place them on a tray with greaseproof paper. Leave to set.
Invite someone to join you on Christmas Day who’d otherwise be on their own. You’ll all have a great time and what’s more, it’s also a way of reducing energy consumption as you share the fun of the day under one roof!
Sustainability is for life – not just for Christmas.
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