This Christmas is shaping up to be a bit different to those of recent years, but it maybe gives us a chance to trim the excess and focus on the simplicity of looking after ourselves, each other and the environment.
It is estimated that waste and recycling increase by 30% over the Christmas period. Here are a few ideas to maximise festive fun whilst keeping others and the environment in mind.
- Make lists. A list helps to reduce panicked present buying and makes it more likely you’ll give people what they really want – no matter how small or practical. List making also helps to avoid over-catering. Sites like com suggest brilliant ways to transform leftovers into post-Christmas treats.
- Shop local. Buying from smaller, independent businesses keeps your pounds in the local economy, reduces packaging use and car journeys as well as making returns or exchanges easier (many items returned through online retailers never make it back onto the ‘shop shelves’ – what a waste!). If you can, ‘put your money where your home is’ is always good advice to follow.
- Make cards count. If you like to send cards, buying them from charities provides them with much needed cash. Alternatively, send a festive email and donate what you would have spent on cards to your favourite good cause instead.
- Give twice with each gift. Buy presents that benefit a charity, are made with the environment in mind or which create memories (like cinema vouchers, an annual membership or similar). Alternatively giving your time to help someone do something they can’t do on their own is a good waste-free gift!
- Reuse, make, re-gift or repair. Many shops sell as-good-as-new pre-loved items – jewellers, antiques shops, dress agencies are good examples, as well as charity shops and, of course, many on-line retailers. Alternatively make presents or get a broken treasure repaired for your loved ones, or re-gift something given to you.
- Bye to fast: buy to last. The environmental and social impact of fast fashion is terrifying, but it is still hard to not be drawn in by the tempting deal of something which might make you look a million dollars but costs less than ten pounds. It’s time to get with the trend! Global sustainability fashionistas are advocating buying fewer but better quality items and adoption of the #30wears rule…only buying an item if you would use it more than 30 times (wedding dresses being the exception!). For big ticket items, consider using set ups like My Wardrobe HQ which rent stunning designer items at affordable prices.
- Rethink your decorations. If living or reusable plastic trees aren’t for you, get your chopped tree chipped! Often, local tree surgeons or Councils offer a chipping service in return for a small fee, or your local recycling site will accept them in their green waste bays. Natural, compostable decorations such as ivy, pine cones, holly, mistletoe etc are stunning. If you prefer bought decorations, make sure to buy those which you’ll use year after year and only buy repairable electric decorations – one blown fairy light bulb can ruin your display, but it’ll be back in a flash if the bulb is replaceable.
- Cut the Cracker Cr*p. If you don’t fancy making your own crackers (look it up on line or ask at your local zero waste shop if they sell kits), only buy crackers which contain useful gifts (and good jokes – or is that asking too much?!).
- Reduce the wrapping. Ahh yes – ’brown paper packages tied up with string’. Both the paper and the string can be reused. Alternatively, wrap presents in newspaper, old road maps or leftover wallpaper and cut up a card from last year as the label. If you buy wrapping paper – avoid plasticky or shiny paper as it cannot be recycled – if it scrumples up into a ball, it can be recycled; if it springs open again, it cannot.
- Ditch the glitter. Sparkly wrapping paper and twinkly cards cannot be recycled. Glitter litter (even the biodegradable type) is found in our soils, on riverbeds, in seas and even inside the fish we eat, so is best avoided.
- Recycle right! We can put lots of recyclable items into our green lidded bins but don’t be an overenthusiastic recycler and put in items which shouldn’t be in there! Your council or waste & recycling management company can provide a clear list of what goes into each bin.
- Enjoy simplicity, eschew excess. These have been a hard couple of years for everyone. Enjoy spending time with others, walking in open spaces, breathing in fresh air and taking a break from the norm. Keep it simple and have a very happy Christmas.