I think we can all agree that when it comes to Christmas, the excitement and the pressure gets to us all and a little bit of panic buying comes in to play. The pressure built up to ensure Christmas goes smoothly and nobody gets disappointed is getting bigger and bigger each year. I personally think that if we put less pressure on ourselves during this period, we would have more time to enjoy it. Christmas was never about the gifts and the money; it was always about spreading love and joy to all and spending the holiday with friends and family.
The amount of waste that comes after the Christmas period is largely fuelled by the sheer panic and excitement from shops and social media to make it the ‘best Christmas ever’. The more the merrier is the general thought process and who can blame us for thinking this way with the growing pressures of social media.
We are here to prove that you don’t need to miss out when it comes to making your Christmas more sustainable. In some areas, you can even save money by doing a bit of DIY! Eco-friendly products tend to cost more than un-sustainable, plastic items, however, they will last a lot longer which means you are saving yourself money in the long term.
Minimising your carbon footprint by sourcing products locally is the first step. We have an editorial in this issue all about how to spend locally in Plymouth this Christmas.
Stockings are such a beautiful idea to bring a little bit of joy to your Christmas morning in a very large sock! To fill these very large socks is the challenge behind the joy and this is when the panic usually sets in. We have come up with some sustainable and eco-friendly ideas to put in your loved one’s stockings this year.
Firstly, ask yourself if you have anything that your kids haven’t seen before that you could hand down to them. This could be a necklace you had when you were a teenager or an old favourite toy that has been well looked after. This meaningful gesture can go a long way as they are more likely to hold on to it as it has precious value.
Let’s not forget about the traditional satsuma at the bottom of every stocking! If forgotten, this will go mouldy and leave a foul stench at the bottom of your stocking!
The essentials that go into every stocking are pants and socks, this can be bought ethically by sourcing good quality products that are made to last. This means less will be thrown out. When your trusty sock does get a hole in or is running thin after many years, make sure you discard them in a clothes recycling point which can be found at many tips and clothing stores.
Opt for package-free products. Shampoo and soap bars are a great alternative to your everyday plastic bottles. These bars tend to last longer and often have all-natural ingredients in which are more sustainable and healthier for the planet. You can buy a soap dish to keep them dry when you are not using them.
For kids, Play in Choc is a great way to add a sweet treat but without the plastic. Inside their boxes is a bar of delicious chocolate along with a cardboard animal that they can piece together. And when they get tired of playing with it, it can be easily recycled. And for the sweet tooth, support your local sweet shop and grab a pick and mix. Often, they will be in paper packets where no plastic is involved! You can also avoid waste by choosing only their favourite sweets.
Everybody gets excited when they see the first shoot of a plant they have nurtured come through. This is why putting in a packet of seed to their stocking may not be as daft as it sounds. If you opt for flower seeds, this will also attract bees!
Another must-have in any child’s stocking is some stationary. You can now purchase recycled pens and pencils from certain shops for example; www.remarkable.co.uk and www.wearthlondon.com- You can find a range of eco-friendly items on both of those websites too.
A candle to set the Christmas mood is always a great stocking filler however, candles are not good for the environment as you are essentially burning a fossil fuel as most contain paraffin. To avoid these candles, look for words on the candles packaging such as ‘natural, organic, coconut wax, rapeseed wax etc.’ You can also buy candles that have been recycled. A great shop to go for that is ‘The Recycled Candle Company’ in Exeter.
It is all too easy to be tempted by the smell of freshly ground coffee whilst walking through the city but make sure you’ve got your reusable mug! Add one of these to your loved one’s stocking for a great gift and to save money on your next coffee! A lot of cafes and Baristas will offer a discount if you bring your own reusable coffee cup!
So now your stockings are filled with eco-friendly goodness, let’s get on to the main presents!
Although wrapping paper has got the word ‘paper’ in it, most wrapping paper is not recyclable as it contains foil, glitter or plastic. Brown paper packaging tied up with string is the way forward! Actually, I think it looks a lot prettier and you can add your own personalised touch to it with some foliage, dried orange, and maybe even a stamp using eco-friendly vegetable ink! If you want some more colour to your packages, we recommend www.re-wrapped.co.uk, they have a wide range of Christmassy designs all made from vegetable ink!
When Christmas shopping- remember to take your bags for life with you to avoid having to take any unnecessary plastic bags home with you.
Christmas is the time for all things sparkly; glitter, sequins, tinsel, baubles, fairy lights and everything in-between. Unfortunately, all of those lovely sparkly items are made from plastic and are non-recyclable and often get washed down the sink and end up in our oceans. On a positive note, eco-friendly glitter exists! Try to refrain from using tinsel and make your own paper chains or homemade garlands that can have longer-lasting properties and are less harmful to the environment.
Baubles should be a family heirloom and stored with care so that they can come out of hiding each year and look spectacular. If you are in need of an extra bauble or two, avoid ones with glitter or that are made from plastic. Head to the high-end stores that offer quality baubles that are less likely to break over the years. Or, make your own Christmas decorations! Have a forage in your local woodland and pick some beautiful pinecones to hang on the tree. And if you are feeling peckish, make some Christmas biscuits, punch a hole through them, tie with string and you’ve got an adorable decoration that won’t go to waste!
By now, you may have planned your Christmas card recipient list but before you buy the cards, give them a little something extra this year. www.earthbits.com are a UK based company that produce all sorts of eco-friendly products as well as Christmas cards! The unique thing about these cards is that when you are ready to throw them away, you can take them out of the bin and in your back garden as these cards have seeds in! By buying these cards, you are essentially giving them a card and a gift that keeps on giving!
Most Christmas trees are green, but not all Christmas trees are green for the planet.
When it comes to buying your Christmas tree this year, make sure you are sourcing it as local as possible. And when January comes, make sure you contact www.recycledevon.org/recycle-your-christmas-trees as they can collect your tree and recycle it!
Renting a Christmas tree is the new trend this year! If you are local to a farm that grows and sells Christmas trees, depending on the farm, you can rent it from them and come January, they will come and collect it from you and then re-plant it for next year!
Did you know- It takes 20 years for an artificial tree to become ‘greener’ than a real one.
However, if you do prefer the ease of an artificial tree, or perhaps you need it for allergy reasons, you can still be mindful about the tree you choose. Some artificial trees are recyclable or made from biodegradable materials.
With all of these sustainable Christmas ideas, we hope this has inspired you to think outside the box and adopt an eco-friendly Christmas this year without compromising out on a thing!