Think about it. How much do we over-spend, over-indulge and over-hype Christmas?
How much of Christmas do we keep when January rolls around?
Wrapping paper, cards and even some of those REALLY unwanted gifts – body wash that looks like it could give you hives, for example – get chucked into the bin, bound for landfill, after you keep them for just long enough that you don’t feel guilty about it. We produce around 30% more waste at Christmas in the UK alone.
I’m not trying to take the magic out of Christmas but with environmental disasters filling our screens so often these days, it is something we should think about. So, here are some sustainable Christmas alternatives you could think about. It may be too late for you to return the wrapping paper to the pound shop but next year, you might just pick up on a couple of these ideas.
Wrapping Paper – Every person has fallen for this. I’ve done it this year as well. I think watching it fall into the bin after my housemates had gleefully opened their presents got me thinking. It’s affordable, yes, and it does go a long way for wrapping nearly all of the presents you buy. But you typically can’t re-use it. 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year. Gift bags are a little pricier but as long as you and your gift recipients are careful, they can be re-used again and again. You can also get creative! A lot of wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. Why not get some plain old easily recyclable paper and decorate it yourself? Little bit of paint and biodegradable glitter and BAM! You are good to go.
The Presents – We buy and receive a LOT of things we don’t need at Christmas. I’ve started actively sending my parents a very precise list of what I want for Christmas so they aren’t left guessing and I enjoy everything I get. They usually chuck some chocolate in to keep it interesting. Actively asking people what they would like for Christmas does not take the magic away: it often means that everyone is happy with what they get. Experience days doing something they love, stocking up their everyday make-up supplies, subscription gifts or even just some cash so they can buy what they need never fail.
Decorations – We all love a bit of tinsel. I love a bit of tinsel. But investing a couple more pounds into some really high-quality, long-lasting tinsel means you don’t need to chuck your balding bit of string at the end of festivities. I would really recommend forgoing new tinsel entirely. Beads, wreaths and sparkly ribbon are excellent festive alternatives that can last years. I highly recommend doing something similar with baubles and other festive knickknacks. Paying a little bit more money at first for something that is going to last means you’ll be pulling those bits and bobs out of boxes with all those great Christmas memories attached.
Lights – Do you like to light up your house and make it a street statement to blind your annoying neighbours every night? Excellent, I highly approve. But that can’t be kind to your energy bill which is already soaring to keep your toes toasty at night. Solar panelled lights are a god send in this department. Well, if you have an overcast day, your lights might not be able to lead a boat to the harbour safely but they are eco-friendly and wallet-friendly.
Fake Trees – Please don’t be felling a tree for it go rotten in your living room. Fake trees are honestly not as bad as they sound. They unpack easily, can be set-up in any room of the house and are very durable. My family has had theirs for at least twenty years. Also, they don’t shed so no constant hoovering needed once they are up and decorated.
Food – Please be realistic with how much you expect you and your family to eat over the holidays. If you think the family are buying a bit too much food, speak up. By the end of Boxing Day, if there is still too much in your cupboards unopened and unused, check the expiry date and see if you can donate it to your local Food Bank.
Cards – Cards can easily be re-used or turned into cute Christmas decorations. If you have a message you really want to save, keep the card whole and save it in a special box for you to return to. With sweet covers often not being written on, you can snip that card it half. Recycle the section that’s addressed to you and hang it up on a piece of string to create some pretty and unique garlands across the Christmas weeks. You can use smaller ones to address presents next Christmas and even stick some paper over the second page and re-use it entirely, as long as you make sure the original writing can’t be seen.
So with those little bits and pieces in mind, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.