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Going Green At Christmas

Christmas can be a nightmare for anyone embarking on a green lifestyle. From the presents themselves, to wrapping, to food items, it can be hard to keep to your principles at this time of year. I wanted to share some things that we have been doing to navigate the plastic trap that is Christmas time.

Disclaimer – I love Christmas!

Pre-Christmas Preparation

Going green at Christmas can be all in the preparation. From choosing presents, to budgeting, to making food prep easier for the big day, thinking and planning ahead can take the stress out of going green at Christmas.

Secret Santa at Office Christmas Parties

This year, I have been asked to join in with ‘secret santa’. I have opted to buy my ‘person’ an ethical, plastic-free candle from Traidcraft. If you know that you want to join in with this and relish the opportunity, why not think ahead and see what you can come up with…

  • homemade jam or chutney (really not as difficult as it sounds, check out this 3 ingredient jam recipe to start you off, or how about Mary Berry’s Christmas chutney, one of my favourites )
  • homemade Christmas decoration
  • a bottle of wine (buy these in sales in the run up to Christmas to save money)
  • socks: everyone needs these, they don’t go ‘off’ and can be purchased in sales throughout the year
  • gift voucher for a local shop

Wrapping Paper and going green – easy alternatives

Wrapping paper is not always ethical, or green:

This is due partly to the materials it is made of, which are typically non-recyclable: wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated; it can also contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, glitter and plastics; and often has sticky tape attached to it.  Also, many of the fibres used in the cheaper types of paper are not strong enough to recycle.  Landfill or incineration are all too often the only options.

Much of the paper used in the UK comes from Scandinavia, especially Sweden and Finland.  Scandinavian forests have been so heavily exploited that just 5% of the old, natural forest remains. But even this is still being logged which, according to Friends of the Earth, is threatening many hundreds of plant and animal species.

Over 1,700 forest-dependent plants and animals are listed as endangered in Sweden, and over 700 in Finland. Many of these are reliant on the last remaining patches of old, natural forest.

(For more information see The Wrag Wrap, my new favourite website to recommend to people)

Super easy alternatives to wrapping paper:

  • Reuse gift bags
  • Reuse boxes eg shoe boxes
  • Reuse wrapping paper
  • Buy bags made from material
  • Make bags (see my post on Present bags for any occasion )
  • Buy reusable gift wrap from the Wrag Wrap website, a British owned and made, very ethical green company, check it out for yourself! They reuse tents that not even charities can take, left behind at music festivals like Glastonbury, as well as other recycled plastic in their materials (note, this is an exception to my no-plastic rule, this saves plastic from going to landfill and makes the fabric stronger and more flexible to be reused for many decades).

Christmas Trees – the great debate

Argument 1) Natural is better, it promotes good forest management

Argument 2) Plastic is better, we need to keep our trees

As it happens, I received a plastic Christmas tree when I was a student that was a cast-off from a flatmate. This has done us nicely for 11 years and counting!

Here’s a new idea – rent a tree then give it back to keep it growing! I found out about it this year (2018) and I think it’s a great idea! See Forever Green Christmas Trees for info. There are a few schemes around the country, it’s worth checking your local area.

Less is more, as always!

Buy local, buy fairtrade, buy things made from natural materials.

Gift experiences that create memories that can last a lifetime.

Gift your time that you will never give back, make someone realise how important you are in their lives!

Gift something that only you can give. Use your talents, your wisdom. Other people can’t do things the same way you can! In my extended family we have people who are brilliant at acting, dancing, music, technology, environmental outdoors education, bikes, cars, sewing, painting, baking, choosing books…so many things that enrich our lives, and most that I as a parent cannot give my children without resorting to paying for!

Create, and ask others to create, a gift list of useful and/or beautiful things that you would like in your home. It will help others have an idea of what you will love to receive and will help you (and me) not stress about the presents you don’t want to receive over the yuletide season.

Delightful Decorations

Annual debate I have with myself…I love glitter and tinsel. Neither is good for the environment! So what are the alternatives for a jolly good festive celebration?

  1. Keep using what you have ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Fix broken things – fairy lights come with spare bulbs for a reason!
  3. Scour charity shops for second hand decorations.
  4. Make your own decorations – lollipop sticks make great stars, saltdough and a dash of paint can be turned into any number of Christmas shapes and with a wee bit of ribbon look great hanging on a tree.
  5. Go old-school. Victorians used to bring green in – holly and ivy taken from local surroundings were brought in to mantelpieces for a dash of colour on Christmas day. Don’t forget a wreathe for the front door! No reason why these can’t be home-made.
  6. Go wooden. Lots of lovely wooden hanging ornaments around these days!
  7. Repurpose. I have seen lots of lovely Christmas decorations made from paper, from snowflakes to stars with some imagination, determination and ‘pinteresting‘!
  8. Use Christmas cards to make decorations, or simply hang up Christmas cards on string to brighten your home up.
  9. Get creative. Pine cones, sticks and coloured string can make a plethora of decorations!
  10. Remember that less is more – too much in the way of decoration can be a) stressful and b) overwhelming for some guests.

I wish you a very merry Christmas 2018! Wherever you are, keep on greening! ๐Ÿ™‚

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