Christmas has just jumped up on us hasn’t it?! Usually you have all of November to prepare for Christmas and to ease into the festive spirit after Halloween, but as the UK spent all of November in lockdown, I emerged from my lockdown to endless Christmas tunes, Santa figures everywhere and far too much red and green decorations.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas: cosy pj sets, lots of food, time off to totally relax with my family and friends, wrapping up presents so they look all cute. But Christmas is also quite a wasteful time of the year, largely in part to the amount of wrapping and packaging that comes along with it all. I have tried my best to make sustainable choices this year, and thought I’d share with you guys some of my ideas that I have found really helpful over the Christmas period.
1. No wrapping paper
Most wrapping papers contain a plastic backing or covering on them and so cannot be recycled.I no longer buy wrapping paper. All of my presents have been wrapped with brown paper and I then also buy some ribbon or string to tie around presents to make them somewhat presentable. I have also seen some examples of people who buy a stamp to decorate the brown paper whoever they wish. Other alternatives is to wrap presents with newspaper, or even to wrap them with another gift: If you have bought someone a pretty scarf, you can use this scarf to wrap up another one of their gifts. You could also use reusable canvas bags or gift bags, so that once the present has been given the person then also has a useful bag to use moving forward.
2. Shop second hand
This can be hard, as I appreciate that not every single area of the country will have affordable charity stores, but even just buying a few good books or DVDs or CDs, or a nice new jumper for the winter from goodwill or a charity shop can make a big difference. Normally these places are cheaper than buying brand new in store (although with some charities this is not always the case) and you can also find some really cool, vintage style pieces that the recipient will no doubt love. It also helps you get used to not buying into fast fashion and helps you look out for more sustainable shopping options.
3. Shop locally/small
As with the above, this is not always easy. Places like Etsy have a lot of options available, but can sometimes be really expensive for what they are. That being said, if you know of someone on your Facebook or local area who makes candles or embroidery kits or can paint really pretty portraits, why not support them? Not only will you be getting some lovely handmade gifts to give people, you will also be helping to support a local and small business, all of whom have probably had a very tough 2020.
4. Make your own
Now you do not have to be overly creative in order to do this sort of gift. For example, if you know that your mom’s favourite hobby is sitting down with a good book and a big mug of tea, why not create a ‘Christmas Hamper’ for her which includes a few charity store books, a selection of different teas and maybe a fair of really fluffy and snugly socks. Not only is this way more personal for the person getting the gift, it can also be a lot of fun hunting out tiny little bits that you know the recipient will really appreciate. In previous years I have also made ‘Activity Jars’, where I fill up a jar with a load of different activities to do so the recipient can use it throughout the year if they are stuck for something to do. Get creative and see what you can come up with!
5. Buy sustainable gifts
One of the easiest ways is to buy people useful things that they already use every day. Items such as reusable coffee mugs, metal straws, wax food wrapping, canvas bags and refillable or insulated water bottles are all really good gift ideas that also support sustainability. Most people will use these items on a daily basis already, so buying them a sustainable version will mean they get a useful gift that they can use the whole year round.