Its official, Halloween is over and Christmas is next month! The presents, the food, the decorations, the cards etc etc, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Yet it can also be one of the most wasteful. However this doesn’t have to be the case, here are a few of our favourite ways to make the festive period more environmental friendly.
Let’s start with the main event, the presents! Trying to find the perfect present for someone is hard at the best of times and traipsing around the shops in winter, with crowds of people doing the same really adds to the fun. The pressure to have the latest ‘must have’ item is also high but there can be some real finds on the likes of Gumtree, charity shops, vintage/antique shops or the Sobo recycle page. Not only are you likely to get a bargain, you are less likely to have any duplicate presents and perhaps get some brownie points for getting something unusual, but perfect.
The staple Christmas gift for us ladies is often a set of bath goodies or make up treats. Before buying a set from a large commercial shop, which will no doubt be wrapped in plastic, do check out some of the great natural plastic free options available from small business's. There are many plastic free and environmentally friendly shops online like Live Kindly Eco Shop or Almond & Co and Lush on the high street.
Consider doing things like Secret Santa, rather than buying gifts for everyone. Again not only good for reducing unwanted gifts but can also help save the pennies. If you do have gifts given to you that perhaps aren’t quite to your taste (we all have that one relative who just doesn’t get it!) then why not host a present swap in January? There are fun variations to this, my favourite is where all the presents are placed in the middle and everyone is allocated a number. Person number one picks first, then person number two can chose to steal that gift or take their own etc. This can also work for secret Santa too.
Not all presents have to be material gifts and some of the best gifts are experiences. Make memories with tickets (ideally e-tickets!) to a show or gig, a meal out or just a whole day spent together can be more priceless than anything else.
We know someone who has EVERYTHING! What do you get them?! Have you thought about a charity donation? If not for someone else, why not say that you will pass on presents this year but a charity donation in your name wouldn’t go amiss?
Make it yourself! Now you don’t always have to be super creative to make something fun and even doing something simple like making your own cards, or getting the kids to, can help cut down the waste. Most cards do unfortunately come wrapped in plastic and most wrapping paper can’t always be recycled. So even if you can’t make a full present for someone, perhaps consider wrapping it in something you have made. Don’t restrict yourself to just wrapping in paper, think scarfs or cloth scraps (like the Japanese do with Furoshiki), jars or old maps! If you are using tape to secure presents then also consider using paper tape as an alternative to plastic tape. What can also look very pretty and creative is using string or ribbon too.
If you really aren’t creative and/or don’t have the time, head to the card shop in Southbourne as there are a selection of recyclable cards, ones not in plastic or charity donation cards.
Now what about food?! Surely it’s not a real Christmas unless everyone is passed out on the couch with a proper food baby? Yes it is often known as a time to over indulge but with some proper planning you can not only reduce your food waste but also the impact on your wallet! Be realistic with portions and how many you are cooking for so you aren’t eating turkey for a week. Perhaps try moving away from the traditional turkey dinner and try some more plant based dishes too. If you are unsure of how many friends and family members will turn up un announced then consider foods that will last, like Christmas cake versus a salad for example. Making it yourself will also mean it’s less likely to come in plastic!
Of course food isn't just for the day, consider food gifts as presents. From chutneys to cookies this is especially a good way to use up any excess food you have grown over the summer.
Why not be super organised and head to the charity shops on boxing day to pick presents for next year? A lot of unwanted presents end up here and quite soon after Christmas so go grab a bargain!
Of course a big area for waste is the decorations. So much so we will address some alternative options for decorating the house in the next blog post...stay tuned!