I for one am a huge fan of Christmas, I love the fact we get at least one day out of the year to relax and spend time with our peeps. I love the generosity I see at this time of year and have some great memories from the festive period. What I don’t like, is the waste. So much waste is generated over such a small period of time from all sorts of angles, some of which even I have to really try to notice.
It’s great to know that a large proportion of us want to and are making steps to have a more sustainable future but it isn’t always so obvious what you can do is it. It can be labour intensive and expensive to change habits of a lifetime so here I am sharing my top tips on how to have a more environmentally friendly Christmas without the complications and with lots of fun and memory making too.
1) REUSE or RE-PURPOSE
I think its common consensus that making use of what you already have is the best option for those who want to live a more sustainably, and Christmas is no exception. We have a tree that is at least 10 years old, its plastic but was gifted to me before my zero waste days so I plan to give the real tree option a miss this year and make use of what I have already. The same goes for decorations. We have a Christmas tradition of adding a new tree decoration each year and in the past have bought all sorts of decorations that just wouldn’t pass as environmentally friendly. Getting out the decorations of Christmases past is always a great day for us in the Preston household, we often spend the evening chatting about what happened in the year each one was bought, its one of my favourite Christmassy days yet. In more recent times we have carried on with the tradition but done so a little differently and this brings me to my next tip, the last few years we have ditched the whole idea of buying a new decoration but instead make them ourselves.
2) HAND-MAKE WHAT YOU CAN
Some of my most favourite memories of Christmas are the things we did as a family and the things we made, from baking citrus fruit decorations to batch cooking ice cream and Christmas cake. The fact we did it together meant for some serious family bonding and moments of pride when something was finally finished. These days it’s even easier to hand make just about anything, the rise of You Tube and Pinterest means we have access to an online tutor at any time of day and any location provided we have an internet connection. All the decorations in our shop window right now have been handmade with scrap we found in the house or foraged, and the kids love it! Having a handmade Christmas extends far beyond DIY decorations but covers food and gifts too. Home made gifts are my absolute favourite, there are again lots of ideas out there that any of us could do with what we may already have in the house, sugar scrubs and hampers are always winners for me.
3) SAVE YOUR ENERGY
Christmas waste isn’t just about the thousands and thousands of metres of wrapping paper or unwanted plastic packaging and gifts but we also consume a huge amount of energy and fossil fuels at this time of year too, this is perhaps the less obvious kind of waste we generate. Anyone can think a bit more about energy waste and just about everyone can make easy changes to reduce what they consume. Simply turning off devices at the plug, switching to greener energy and making better use of daylight are simple and effective ways to reduce your footprint. If your closing down you place of work, switch of the microwave and unplug the kettles you could even empty the fridge and switch it off. When your off shopping why not use public transport or car share on your shopping trips and family visits. Just think how much more social it is to travel with others this Christmas, because isn’t that really what the festive period is all about?
4) LESS IS MORE It might seem another obvious one but important none the less. Really think about how and where you can reduce things this Christmas, when it comes to presents we have quite a large family and the number of gifts we were buying was growing year on year with the arrival of children and partners so we clubbed together and agreed to take part in a family secret Santa. We now buy one gift with a higher budget and have strict rules about it being sustainable. It might sound all a bit scrooge but here Is the thing, its not. As a result, and almost by accident we now have one huge family get together each year where we exchange presents and have a good festive lunch. Prior to having a Secret Santa, we darted about from place to place trying to accommodate each other’s schedules with a boot full of food and gifts and often this resulted in far more road miles, tat, and stress. This way we all get one quality and useful present and have fun guessing who bought what over dinner, it has become far more about seeing each other, having fun and being social than about how many presents we have. Gifts aren’t the only thing, we can all afford to skip the second packet of mince pies and no one really cares if you reuse a gift bag from your last birthday, I don’t even care if you give me a present wrapped in newspaper, in fact I actually prefer and I am sure I am not the only one.
5) DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT. One of the biggest shames about Christmas is that we spend so much time running around and stressing out about making it perfect that we rarely enjoy it as much as we should. This year why not tell people what you want or ask your loved ones what they want. It is all very English to keep quiet, but it makes everything so much easier and much more sustainable too. Ending up with a present you wont use is wasteful, having food on your plate you don’t like is wasteful and not just that its harmful to our future too. It seems weird at first but honestly there is nothing more satisfying than giving or receiving a gift that is wanted and knowing that it contributes to a better future for us and our family is just the caramel sauce on our Christmas cake.
If you have some sustainable tips this Christmas connect with and let us know what your up to
Merry Eco Christmas