5 Tips for a Low Waste Christmas
We’re dreaming of a Christmas that won’t cost the Earth.
'Tis the season for Christmas ads bombarding us with images of tables overflowing with food and presents stacked so high you can’t even see the tree. It might seem to be all fun and games, but conservationists argue that Christmas is the world's greatest annual environmental disaster.
The greatest threat to the future of our planet, is the idea that it is somebody else’s problem. We all have an important role to play. Afterall, small changes made by many, make a big difference.
5 simple swaps and hacks for a more responsible festive season:
1. Swap Christmas cards for a letter, a text message or a phone call instead
Does anyone really enjoy receiving a generic Christmas card these days? Sending an email, a text message, or making a phone call is a much more meaningful way to connect with people you care about. You’ll also be reducing your impact on the planet dramatically. Other more meaningful ideas include sending a letter, or making your own handmade cards - just make sure you avoid glitter!
2. Make a gift list for friends and family, keep it to one or two considered items
Not saying your gifts are rubbish, but did you know, we waste £4bn on unwanted gifts a year? By March 41% of toys bought for Christmas, will have broken - or our children will be bored of them! Most of these will end up at the tip and then go to landfill. For children, board games make great gifts that the whole family can play. Ask yourself how long you think a child will play with a certain toy and also consider practical purchases like sustainably made pyjamas. Look for crafted gifts and support local businesses. Buy less, choose quality over quantity.
Environmentally friendly, meaningful gift ideas:
- Wooden board games that can be played by the whole family
- Practical gifts like bedding or pyjamas (we make super soft organic cotton bedding and PJs)
- Vouchers - eg: an annual pass for The National Trust or a Spotify subscription
- Locally sourced consumables like a jam and chutney hamper or some sustainable toiletries
- Something homemade - bake some biscuits. Everyone loves biscuits right?
- Gift an act of service - a hand made voucher offering your skills, eg: some DIY, babysitting, photography or cooking a meal
- Donation to a charity that is meaningful to your loved one. British Beekeepers Association is close to our hearts
3. Switch glittery or printed wrapping paper for biodegradable, reusable or recycled alternatives
UK gift-givers use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year – of which, over 83km2 will end up in our bins. Wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the “scrunch test”, according to Recycle Now. This means that glittery or foil decorated wrapping paper cannot be recycled. Each year, gifts are packaged in approximately 125,000 tonnes of plastic, much of which will end up in our oceans, in the bellies of whales and human beings. Research suggests we’re already consuming the equivalent of one credit card per week each in microplastics.
The statistics aren't pretty, but there are alternatives that are friendlier on the planet. Why not use old newspaper or craft paper and decorate it yourself? We love a forage in nature for pine cones or sprigs to add to our homemade wrapping. Or give presents in our cotton drawstring bags that your loved one can reuse around the house. An added bonus is that it's a no faff way to wrap.
Another idea that looks rather lovely under the tree is furoshiki fabric wrapping inspired by Japanese culture. The wraps are tied around gifts and afterwards returned to you, or reused by the the loved one you gave it to. We love furoshiki by Hanabee Wraps, see below.
4. Reuse your Christmas cards as tags for next year’s presents
We send enough Christmas cards that if we placed them alongside each other, they’d cover it 500 times over. The Greeting Card Association suggest we send 1 billion Christmas Cards in the UK each Christmas - that’s 1 billion Christmas cards that could end up in bins, the equivalent of 33 million trees!
5. Create a Christmas menu, make a shopping list, stick to it
Every year in the UK, approximately 7 million tonnes of food is wasted. Our over-excessive eating habits during Christmas cause the same carbon footprint as a single car travelling 6,000 times around the globe, according to a University of Manchester study. Over Christmas alone, we’ll dispose of 2 million edible turkeys, 5 million edible Christmas puddings, and 74 million edible mince pies amounting to almost 270,000 tons of food waste in total. Don’t let supermarket offers stray you into thinking you need that extra box of after eights. You’ll save money, reduce your waste. And potentially your waistline too.
Whatever you do this Christmas, have lots and lots of festive fun. I think we've all earned it this year! 💚🎄