Three Steps To Take For A More Sustainable Christmas
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As long as the past year may have felt, all of a sudden, it is the Christmas season again! Christmas lights are being put up, mince pies are back in full stock in the stores, and for those that celebrate Christmas, it is time to think about what to buy for family and friends. It can be hard to know what to buy people – and easier to end up buying random things that end up in the bin by the end of the month. Gifting sustainably can be much easier than you think, if you know where to start! Follow these three steps to be sustainable this Christmas:
HOW TO BE SUSTAINABLE FROM LAST YEAR
Reuse any Christmas decorations from last year
A new Christmas doesn’t have to mean new decorations. There is something comforting about coming home in the evening and recognising your house’s Christmas lights! Tinsel and baubles can also both be reused and rearranged to look completely different from the last year.
Leftover decorations and old gifts
If you have any decorations you don’t like anymore, or Christmas gifts you never used, then there are other options to just throwing them away. Take them to the charity shop or set up a fun games night with family and friends and use them as raffle prizes – and if you can remember who got you what, you can even regift some things this year.
HOW TO BE SUSTAINABLE THIS YEAR
This step is probably the most important – and the easiest! Whilst you might not be able to tick everything off of this list, doing just one or two will make a difference.
Making Christmas decorations
If you’d like new decorations this Christmas, you could try making your own instead of buying them. Hobbycraft is great for gathering supplies, and Woman’s Day has a great list of ways you can start making your own Christmas tree decorations. You could go a step further and make your own crackers with old toilet roll tubes and wrapping paper!
Using LED or solar Christmas lights
A lot of Christmas lights use bulbs – a more sustainable version would be to get LED lights instead. If you have outdoor space, then there is also the option for solar powered Christmas lights which don’t need to be plugged in and power themselves by the sun.
Recycling or renting your Christmas trees
Having a Christmas tree is one of the first things that springs to mind when thinking about the festive season. However, what most people don’t realise is that you can recycle real trees after Christmas – garden centres often have places to collect and shred Christmas trees and use the wood chips for mulch. Check out this Garden Health blog for loads of different ways you can recycle your tree in the new year. There are also options to rent a Christmas tree if you don’t want to commit to having one for the whole season and then getting rid of it. And if you are unable to have a tree, you could always string some fairy lights on any houseplants you have, or stick some fairy lights on a wall in the shape of a christmas tree.
Sustainable Christmas cards
If you want to buy Christmas cards this year, you can get some really clever plantable cards from Etsy – once opened and enjoyed, they can then be planted in compost and grown into flowers! This means you get something nice to read, and then grow something beautiful back into the world! As an alternative to sending the traditional paper card, you could send e-cards instead. And when receiving Christmas cards from other people, make sure to save all the stamps and take them to charity shops; many will receive money for them.
Reusing and Recycling Wrapping Paper
Whilst it may seem odd, not all wrapping paper is actually recyclable as some of it comes with a plastic coating. So, if you want to recycle, make sure to buy the right kind of wrapping paper – a quick test to tell the difference is by scrunching it up. If it remains crumpled, then it is just paper and can be recycled. If it reopens on its own, it means it contains plastic and has to go in the normal bin. You could always swap out the wrapping paper for fabric, printed paper, even newspaper, or a cute tote bag, which also eliminates the need for card gift bags and becomes part of the gift!
One of the hardest parts of the season can actually be figuring out what to get everyone. It is important to be realistic about the presents you are getting. It is ultimately going to be more useful, and sustainable, to buy one present that your family/friends will love and get lots of use out of, instead of lots of smaller gifts and knick-knacks that will get thrown out after the holidays. You can find loads of inspiration for where to look for sustainable presents from the Ethical Company Organisation guide, as well as looking at places like Peace with the Wild, Etsy, Ethique and Bird and Blend Tea. Even better still you can make your own presents, like biscuits and bath bombs!
Limiting Food Waste
Christmas dinner is a tradition for many, and it is also not unusual to find yourself absolutely stuffed with an abundance of leftover food! This doesn’t all have to go to waste, and there are some great recipes to use up leftover food, so you can keep the Christmas festivities going for the next few days.
HOW TO BE SUSTAINABLE FOR NEXT YEAR
Reusing Blank Envelopes
Got any Christmas cards from family and friends that didn’t need an address? You can easily put a blank sticker over the name and reuse the envelopes for next year’s Christmas cards!
Saving Wrapping Paper
Any rolls of wrapping paper that weren’t quite finished can be used again for presents next year. The same goes for any large pieces of wrapping paper that you opened this year!
Saving Christmas Cards
Christmas cards can make lovely decorations – save the fronts of the cards from this year and use them next year. You could stick them up the banister, or even cut them up and make new pictures/scenes.
This Christmas is going to be different as we finally emerge from the depths of the pandemic. There is no better time to start being sustainable at Christmas, so follow some of these tips – and have a wonderful Christmas!