Here are our top tips on how to celebrate a feel-good eco-Christmas and enjoy the festive season whilst reducing your plastic and carbon footprint at the same time.
Relax, imperfect is perfect
Splodgy, glittery paper ones made by little ones, thoughtfully chosen gifts from friends, inherited antiques, some cheap and tacky and some quite special – the best bit about Christmas is getting the boxes of decorations out and re-using and re-discovering the random, familiar collection of pieces year after year. They might not be matchy-matchy but they all have a memory attached and give the tree a comforting, homely look. An eco-Christmas is about telling your own family story. So, enjoy growing your collection, but don’t feel you have to buy new ones each year or follow this year’s on-trend colour scheme. And don’t throw out the glittery pine cones yet.
Deck the halls … green
Collecting new and 100% natural decorations however is totally different. And really fun. Head out to find holly branches, long ivy tendrils and festive foliage from your local park to hang around window frames, drape over wall mirrors, wind around stair banisters or use as table decorations – even more lovely when wrapped with fairy lights. Then use scraps of ribbon or lace to tie rosemary and other herbs or twigs around old jars and put a candle inside for an easy decoration that doesn’t cost a penny. Pinterest has loads of homemade decoration inspo for your eco-Christmas.
Action packed Advent
The classic paper picture calendar is a lovely way to countdown the days till Christmas. As kids we used to use the same one for a few years in a row! But if you want a new one each year make sure it’s made from recycled paper. To avoid adding to plastic consumption invest in a re-useable calendar that you can bring out year after year. Choose from wooden houses or nativity sets, or fabric hanging calendars. Or make your own by using small bags tied or pegged up and fill them with sweets and treats. If you don’t want to encourage guzzling chocolate every morning, talk to your family about doing a month of advent activities like Christmas baking, a front room Christmas disco, or just a walk or drive around your local streets admiring the Christmas lights on the houses. The “reverse advent” is also lovely: each day instead of receiving a gift, make a box and place an item inside that will be needed and wanted by a local food bank or homeless shelter. An eco-Christmas allows kids to learn that to give to others as well as receive is a gift in itself.
Waste free wrapping
When wrapping presents try to avoid foil embossed paper that can’t be recycled and make sure you use plain or patterned paper. Even better use recycled craft wrap, or use old newspaper, magazines or last years calendars. Plain brown paper or newspaper can be dressed with foliage, lace or ribbon, (to keep and use again) or get creative with paints and stamps to add some colour.
If you keep old Christmas cards, cut them up and use them to make this years gift tags. It’s the sort of activity that will keep kids busy for an hour while you make dinner. Making up eco-Christmas hampers as gifts? Avoid covering in cellophane, and the same if you buy flowers from a florist, just ask them not to use plastic wrap – they usually have a paper option too.
Eat, drink and be merry
If you’re planning a big family Christmas it makes sense to ask people to pitch in to help with the festive food and drink and means people don’t feel compelled to buy grown up gifts. Someone can bring wine, another cheese and someone can peel the potatoes! Organise yours here for an easy, fun and stress free day.
Cut out the plastic
Zero waste, or even plastic-free food shopping is a real challenge, plastic IS everywhere, and some will find its way in to your trolley. We recently tried to go for just one week buying zero plastic. Even with amazing support from our four kids it was really difficult. Eye opening and educational. But tough! What it taught me was that it’s no good making zero plastic a start point for your eco-Christmas. Better you set your zero plastic ambition as a goal! Start small by swapping products in plastic for their cardboard or glass counterparts and aim to reduce as much as you can. Swap your plastic ketchup and mayo for glass bottles. Choose unwrapped fruit and veg if it’s an option. Take your own bags or containers and buy loose bakery items and meat from the counter. If you do buy plastic packaged items, buy in bulk if you can. And don’t forget the milkman! A proper old-fashioned bottle of milk delivered to your doorstep in re-useable glass bottles makes mornings happy. Find out more at milkandmore.
Celebrate your local shops
Where possible, buy locally produced goods in the run up to your eco-Christmas (seasonal veg, English wine and beer) and support your local independent shops and markets who will really value your custom. They are more likely to be open and adaptable to making changes to packaging if their customers ask too. Find your local market here.
Try something new
There’s been a huge rise in veganism in the last few years along with concerns about the impact on our environment. In 2018 every eco-Christmas table needs a non-meat alternative! Christmas isn’t a time to go without, so if you love your turkey or goose then go for it, but try some of the non-meat options if you get a chance – they’ve come a long way! See the latest on offer from your supermarket here or if you feel like trying some recipes yourself check out some delicious ideas from Viva and these from the Jamie Oliver.
Give Group Love
Get together with friends and family to buy one big gift that’s really wanted.. It doesn’t have to be a material object. A massage, dancing lessons, or a special dinner date can all be gifted easily. Or club together for that really wanted new bike or watch that will make them happy. An eco-Christmas can and should be fun and joyful and gift giving is about showing love and thought and giving something that will be treasured and loved.
Good green stocking fillers for under £5
It’s easy to find reasonably priced stocking fillers for an eco-Christmas. How about a bamboo toothbrush, some packaging free beauty products like these gorgeous ones from Lush or the latest novel from around £5.00 (even better if it’s second hand!). Support your local charity shops and bookshops or try Waterstones.
Pop some slave free chocolate in from Tony’s Chocolonely – they use uncoated, recycled FSC-certified paper for their wrapping or try this from Seed & Bean – the wrapping is non-plastic and fully compostable.
Then raid the charity shops for pre-loved toys and games and don’t forget the socks and satsumas!
To set up your own eco Christmas wish list check out our beautiful and easy to customise template here.