Pathological plastic consumption has become so normal that we barely notice it, however, in the run up to Christmas, how do we ease off this rampant consumerism without being a Scrooge?
Since the boom in the fight against plastic, you must all feel that there surely aren’t any other new swaps out there. We all know about metal straws, but there is a lot more we can swap in, or out, to help make a difference this Christmas, as well as looking chic and adding an extra sparkle to the festivities.
Making the right choice is often very difficult, so is knowing what the right choice is for your time and budget. Less is more when it comes to festivities, so do things like re-gifting a functional gift for someone who will have real use out of it or have a family round-robin gift exchange by doing a name draw and everyone gives one gift to one assigned person. Also think about your carbon footprint and support local businesses if they promote sustainability – why buy from China just because it’s 50p cheaper when you can buy it on your local high street?
I guess we start with an important dilemma – real tree or artificial tree? If your tradition is to always have a real tree, make sure it has been grown sustainably and in an organic and pesticide-free environment, and ensure that it is properly recycled after Christmas. Equally, feel free to chop the tree up yourself for your own compost heap! Fake trees have their advantages and we use the word ‘fake’ lightly, as they are becoming increasingly realistic. They last for years and years but need manufacturing and of course disposing of correctly if damaged or broken. The last option is growing your own – start now! You can buy a tree at a decent size but they need looking after, and you may just have to resist putting all of your decorations on it this year!
Bring the scent of the forest to your front door by foraging for own wreath! There are many options, including a pine cone wreath or try using a variety of greenery tied up with a big bow to create a super high-end look! At the other end of spectrum is a newspaper wreath – it doesn’t get much more eco-friendly than this! Made from old newspapers or magazines, you can curl or scrunch the paper to form a wreath topped off with a dash of silver or gold spray paint!
You can be so inventive with recyclable Christmas decorations, starting with one of our favourites; rustic snowflakes. Made from twigs, greenery, cones, sticks and berries, tied together with recyclable string. With any left-over twigs, you can also try a scrap ribbon tree ornament. Tie some string to the top of a twig and then tie ribbon, that gradually gets longer, into a tree shape.
You could also look at using old clothes and make your own recycled stocking or Christmas bunting. Even better if it’s made from an old Christmas jumper!
What would the staircase or fireplace be without a festive garland? Why not try something like a cinnamon orange garland for something that looks bright and festive but also smells incredible! Use acorn caps filled with cinnamon dough and then string together with dried orange slices.
It’s a wrap
One easy change to make is how you present your gifts. Wrapping paper, while sparkly and pretty, often ends in a crumpled mass that has to be recycled or thrown away after just one use. Julie Andrews got it right, “Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things.” Brown paper is the most obvious and the best option for wrapping presents. Made to look very chic with hessian ties, and wooden gift tags, it is very versatile and can be made more colourful in minutes with some snazzy ribbon and greenery. However, if brown isn’t your thing, let’s have a look at some other options…
An increasingly popular way to wrap presents is a home-made approach known as ‘furoshiki’; a Japanese technique of using wrapping cloth to cover gifts.
You can either purchase a ream of your favourite cloth or material or use material you already have at home such as a scarf, shawl or tea towel and use this to wrap your Christmas presents. To wrap, you simply place the item in the middle of the fabric, then fold the top and bottom corners over the object and tie the other two corners in a knot. At that point, you can tuck them underneath what you just tied, or leave the corners to hang free. Check out this ‘how to’ tutorial here.
If you are not really into ‘DIY’ you can buy really pretty hand-made gift bags such as these. Other green gift-wrapping alternatives could be using pages from old newspapers or magazines. Use the ‘funny’ pages that are bright and colourful and don’t be afraid to use paint or crayons to jazz it up or make it more Christmassy! The same goes for boxes you have lying around. From shoe boxes to delivery boxes, they are everywhere and a really easy thing to re-use. Another obvious one is to never throw or give away your gift bags – once you have given your gift keep the bag and re-use them year on year (it’s not cheating).
For something a little different and a little whacky, try 100% plantable paper. Instead of throwing your wrapping paper in the bin, you can now plant your paper to grow things like broccoli, onions, chillies, carrots and tomatoes! How does it work? Good question. A technology that has been around since the 1960s, the seeds are embedded between several layers of very fine tissue paper. Each layer of paper is held together through an embossed zip, meaning no glues are used in the manufacture of the paper, which is good news for the soil. Once the paper has been planted in the soil, the paper immediately begins to biodegrade leaving the seeds to grow into champion veg, herbs or flowers with no damaging impact on garden ecosystems. Plant your wrapping paper and watch the design grow in front of you. How cool is that?!
Check out more here: http://www.edenspaper.com.
Throw a vegetarian or vegan party
‘Wow’ your friends with your culinary prowess by showing how creative you can be with an alternative dinner party. Going vegan or vegetarian for Christmas is much more than a nut roast. Now this one might be a little out there and offend some people, we are not saying you should completely change your diet, but did you know that animal husbandry creates approximately 44% CO2 emissions? No, it is not because of a high number of flatulent cows! It is due to the vast fields of grain that need to be used for feeding, the vehicles that ship the animals to and from the slaughter houses etc. And don’t forget the amount of plastic that is used to package the meat.
There are also fantastic health benefits for going vegan or vegetarian this Christmas, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and also improving your cardiovascular health to name just a few. Click here to see a few of our favourite vegan recipes.
Don’t forget to think about the bigger picture. It is the day-to-day waste that makes any diet unsustainable whether you choose to be vegan, vegetarian, a meat eater or a combination of these, and wastage is especially high at Christmas time. You can also source more food locally and seasonally, as well as considering preserved options if you want to cut down on air miles.
If everyone made just a few of these small changes this Christmas it would help the environment hugely and will also help to bring out your inner creativity! Happy Christmas.