Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but it’s also the most wasteful one. Every year tons of plastic packaging, wrapping paper, food and more get thrown away during the festive season. With the spotlight in recent years being put on sustainability and being more eco-friendly, many people are looking for ways to be more mindful of our planet during the season of giving.
In this post we’ll talk about sustainability during the holidays and share with you five ways to celebrate a more sustainable Christmas in your household.
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Buy eco-friendly gifts
Gifts are one of the main events during the festive season. We all want to choose the best presents for our loved ones to show our appreciation and affection but sometimes those gifts are not particularly useful and end up wasted.
A sustainable practice to get yourself into before buying a gift is asking yourself if the recipient really needs it and if whatever you’re buying would be useful to them. If you know that someone is not going to use the present you’ve bought them then you might have to think of something else to get them.
Good sustainable gift ideas are food hampers, eco-friendly toiletries such as handmade soaps or shampoo bars, experiences or digital gift vouches so your loved ones can choose a gift themselves.
Use recyclable packaging
Even though it’s called wrapping “paper” the traditional gift wrapper cannot always be recycled as they have a plastic coating to make them shinier. Decorative elements such as plastic ribbons and bows are also typically non-recyclable.
Try to swap them for sustainable alternatives such as regular brown packaging paper and paper or textile ribbons. If you want to add a personal touch to the packaging you can paint christmas motifs on the plain paper using watercolours, colouring pencils or other art mediums. You could even try using fabric instead of paper to wrap your presents. A colourful handkerchief would make the perfect wrapping for a small gift box.
And if you’re sending off lots of Christmas cards to your friends and relatives make sure you get ones that can be recycled. Some cards made from eco-paper have flower seeds in them so after the recipient has finished reading it, it can be torn and put in a pot to grow some pretty flowers. You could even have a go at making the paper yourself from old newspapers, magazines or notepads.
Buy less food that would go to waste
We all tend to over-shop and overspend when it comes to Christmas dinner. Many of us buy exotic food items to add some variety on the table but end up disliking the taste so they end up in the bin. Or we buy more food than we would eat and it goes out of date before we get to it so we have to throw it away.
When shopping for your Christmas dinner have a planned meal for the night and calculate how much of each product you would need depending on how many guests you have to feed. That way you’ll ensure that no food gets wasted. It’s also healthier for you as you’re less likely to end up overeating from having too much food at the dinner table.
Decorate with sustainable materials
Decorating your house to bring in the festive cheer and putting up the Christmas tree are the main events for every family during the festive period. The vast majority of Christmas decorations are made out of plastics which cannot be recycled and if they break they’re usually discarded and end up on a landfill where they would sit for centuries.
If you want to use Christmas decorations that are better for the environment a good idea is to turn to natural materials such as wood, linen and others. You can easily make your own ornaments using pinecones with a string attached to them or colourful ribbons made out of scrap fabrics. Another great option is collecting walnuts and acorns which you can then spray paint gold or silver and attach a string to. For garlands you can replace the regular plastic tinsel with a string of dried oranges and other festive food, linen ribbons or stringed popcorn.
Instead of the wreath made out of plastic you can also try making a Christmas decoration for your door from evergreen branches and decorate it with spare decorations from your indoor tree.
Say no to confetti and party poppers
Everyone loves the glitter and glam of shimmery confetti and party poppers flowing through the air at a Christmas or New Year’s party. Unfortunately though, the glitter used to make most confetti is very rarely biodegradable which means it will be around in nature for years and years without decomposing. Furthermore, party poppers are usually made out of plastic themselves which is also non-recyclable.
To bring some glitz at your Christmas party without the impacts for the environment you can try making your own confetti by cutting tiny shapes from old pieces of tissue paper or other colourful paper you have lying around your house. You can also find specialised biodegradable glitter which, although still annoying to clean up, at least won’t be decomposing at a waste site for centuries to come.
The path to full sustainability is not a straightforward one, but if we’re all a bit more mindful of our environmental impact this festive season we can move forward in the right direction.