Love it or hate it, it’s happening. Christmas is by far one of the most consumer-driven and wasteful times of the year. We seem to get possessed by some subliminal force that sends us en-masse on a spending spree, we think it’s related to those Christmas songs…
But it doesn’t have to be like this, we can choose to live a calmer, enjoyable, mindful Christmas. Here are some ideas on how to do so.
This is the key word. Not just presents and decorations and food and events, it’s also about limiting the number of people to see. We rush to see everyone before the year ends and our diaries fill up to the brim with back-to-back coffees, lunches and social events. But why not spend real quality time with them some other time instead?
02. Eco-friendly decorations
Less is more and minimalism is a trend. So not only you’ll be generating less waste, you’ll also do it in style. Here are some ideas:
- DIY decorations: Choose natural elements. Instead buying those shiny, colourful, plastic baubles, stars and tinsel, you could spend a day walking in the countryside and collect your own decorations. They will also keep the kids entertained and they’ll feel very proud to see their creations on display. They’re also free!
- Christmas tree: If you really want a Christmas tree, make sure you buy it from a sustainable source and be sure you dispose of it appropriately.
- Lights: use LED lights and use a timer so they’re not on all the time.
03. Christmas Cards
Millions of cards are sent every year, this means less trees and more pollution created by the plastic sleeves, the glitter and the transportation and in the end they’ll end up in the bin or if lucky, in the recycling bin.
Here are some alternatives:
- Just give people a big hug and wish them a happy Christmas, no need to write it down. Your friends and family will love you all the same and use this opportunity to explain about your eco-Christmas.
- Send an e-card, or a nice email, or even better record yourself on video and tell them, what could be more personal?
Make a phone call. Doesn’t get any easier.
- Create your own card: you can reuse cardboard, old newspapers, magazines... or use seeded paper!
Again, less trees, more waste. As with the cards, you could use some old newspaper to wrap presents, reuse boxes and give it a natural touch or use the Japanese Furoshiki technique (wrapping using fabric).
What could we possibly need nowadays? And let's be honest, clicking the 'buy' button in Amazon and waiting for it to be delivered doesn't show much love. Other options are:
- Get ahead of those unwanted presents: you know this needs to be done. We all get something random from the same person every year. Not in 2017! This year you could ask for something specific that you really want or ask them to make a donation in your name to your favourite charity. Besides, who wouldn’t want to adopt this orangutan for Christmas?
- Give time: this is the most precious thing we have so maybe this year you could spend more quality time with those you love, or share some of that time with those who are lonely.
- Hand made presents: making your own presents (soap, truffles, jewellery, knitting...) is not only extremely rewarding and the person will appreciate the time, thought and effort you have put into it, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill and even better, you could spend a day together with your family or friends making them.
- Family rules: Does everyone really need a present from everyone? Secret Santa is always a great option: one mindful gift and strict rules (e.g. price limit and no plastic). That’s all it takes.
The money we spend on food and booze and the waste we create is unreal. And only to then feel guilty and start the new year with a horrific, depressing diet (and hangover). No need.
- Aim for sustainable recipes and if you’re eating meat choose organic, free range and locally produced. Same with seafood and fish, go for the sustainable and in season. (check out sustainability here). There are some lovely, vegetarian recipes online, Riverford and Abel & Cole are great sources of both ingredients and recipes.
- Treats and sweets: Choose organic, palm oil free, sustainably produced treats. The impact of big chocolate producers on jungle deforestation is enormous (click here for more info). Not only cacao, also palm oil (click here for more info) which has been linked to the speeding up process of metastasis (click here for more info).
07. Avoid disposables: bring out the fine china
- If this is your only option, aim for biodegradable materials or materials that can be recycled.
- Use fabric napkins.
- Do not use plastic. Period.
08. Reduce travel
If you’re planning to buy presents from the high street, try to reduce the number of trips you make and use public transport.
09. The aftermath
- Be sure to dispose of waste appropriately.
- Recycle and compost whenever possible.
- Use eco-friendly products like Ecover or Method for all that washing-up and cleaning. Some big brands like Tesco are now developing their own eco-friendly cleaning products.
10. Spread the word
Be an advocate of a Green Christmas by telling others what you’re doing and make sure to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments section below!