7 TIPS FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS
This Christmas, reflecting on what is truly important to us will help us to make more conscious choices. A staggering amount of waste is generated during the festive period. This waste comes in the form of unwanted gifts, uneaten food, discarded wrapping paper, and barely-worn clothing. Most of it ends up in landfill, and eventually our oceans. So, we’ve put together 7 tips for a more sustainable Christmas, as we believe the more small changes we can make, the bigger a difference we can make as a collective.
It’s important to remember that this period will still also be a challenge for many. Loneliness and financial hardship is increasing in our societies. We believe that being more conscious in how we choose to spend Christmas this year can also extend to helping others in our communities and around the world. So, without further hesitation, here are our ideas for a sustainable Christmas.
1. MAKE MORE CONSCIOUS FOOD CHOICES
All of our food has a carbon footprint. This refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere getting food to our table. This includes the growing and harvesting process, the storing and transporting, and the packaging and delivery. Most of us are aware by now that meat and animal products have a much higher carbon footprint than vegetables, fruits and grains. This is due to high levels of methane gas that are released by animals, and also the deforestation of land where animals graze.
But don’t despair! Why not try giving the turkey a miss this year and trying a veggie or vegan alternative? There are thousands of delicious recipes out there, and you can totally wow your guests with your culinary creativity. Always try to buy locally-produced and seasonal veggies. This ensures that your food hasn’t travelled across the world to get to your tummy, and that you are eating in harmony with nature. Choosing to shop organic also means your meals will be packed full of healthy nutrients, and strictly no chemicals.
Other ideas for helping to make more sustainable food choices this Christmas include preparing a realistic meal plan. Quite often we simply buy, buy, buy and come Christmas day end up with plates of food we simply can’t finish. Getting smart and planning and buying efficiently also saves money. A win-win all round!
2. CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
There’s always going to be that special something we have our eye on, but do we really need all the other stuff? There are so many unwanted gifts given at Christmas. In fact, 21million of us will receive something we don’t want this year. Worst of all, not all of these gifts make it to the charity shop, meaning they end up in the bin. Deep sigh.
To stop contributing to this waste and start spending money on gifts with real meaning, why not try mixing it up this year? There are loads of ideas out there for cool, creative gifts that are zero-waste and also make a positive impact. Like why not gifting a subscription to an art centre or a reading app? Or getting tickets for a day out or experience with someone you love? You could contribute to the cost of a learning experience or course, or make or bake something yourself.
There are also hundreds of charities out there offering the opportunity for your gift to really make a positive impact. You could sponsor a child to attend school, or gift a bicycle or beehive to a family to start their own business. To offset some of your carbon emissions you could also donate trees to a reforesting project.
For the gifts that you choose to buy this year, ensure they are ethically produced or sourced and are packaged with the environment in mind. At Aurelia London, you’ll find an array of beautifully packaged gifts in reusable tins or recyclable boxes with no plastic in sight! All of our product formulas fall in line with our Ingredients Promise, with ingredients that are non-toxic for the environment and sustainably and ethically sourced. If you choose something to be applied to the body, check the products are cruelty-free. Think about the packaging too, can you do without the gift wrapping? Choosing a gift that’s already beautifully packaged could help you reduce your wrapping waste.
3. MINIMISE WASTE AND WRAPPING
It is estimated that over 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown into land-fill this Christmas in the UK alone. All that fancy wrapping paper, gift packaging and food packing really builds up. Did you know that every piece of plastic ever created still exists today? This is because plastic is mainly made from petroleum, a fossil fuel, which is not bio-degradable.
There are however lots of wonderful ways to reduce your plastic-use this festive period. Starting simply with taking your own reusable bags out to buy gifts and food. Try buying food that isn’t packaged in plastic, and choose shops that make an effort to reduce their plastic use and encourage re-filling.
For wrapping gifts sustainably, here you can really get your creative juices flowing! Newspaper is great for creating a chic monochrome look and you can even try tying it with some string. Ribbons are also nice because they can be kept and reused. Magazine pages also work well for wrapping and are timeless! If you do choose to use wrapping paper, try buying one made from recycled paper and which is itself 100% recyclable. Sellotape is also made from plastic so it’s good to avoid if you can. You can either purchase a biodegradable tape, or try wrapping your gifts without it. There are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating how to do this, and it’s super easy and fun to try!
4. MAKE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
The tradition of decorating the home for Christmas is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th Century. Decorations were made with wood, evergreens and nuts collected from the natural environment. A far cry from the glittery plastic we often see nowadays. So instead of buying more decorations that may just break or outdate, how about making your own? This is also a gorgeous activity to arrange with friends, family or children. Get together with some good food, an even better playlist, and get down to business!
For making your own sustainable Christmas decorations you could try recycling some of your old Christmas cards. There are loads of recyclable and environmentally friendly arts and crafts materials available to buy, including even plant-based glitter! You can even stick to the super simple by making paper chains out of old newspapers or card.
For those of you feeling adventurous and up for a forage, how about exploring an area of natural beauty for inspiration? Evergreen foliage, branches, pinecones, sticks and berries can look absolutely gorgeous when used as Christmas decorations. And hey guess what? They are all beautifully biodegradable and free! How about weaving some branches together to create your own wreath for your front door? Or even hanging up some real mistletoe with ribbon! Twigs, sprigs and pine cones also look beautiful as table centre pieces. Add the flickering light of eco-friendly candles and you will definitely accrue some dinner party points.
5. SEND FOREST-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS CARDS
Although many of us may think Christmas cards were a thing of the past, actually 1 billion were sold in the UK in 2017! Just think, the majority of those will have contained glitter, plastic particles, or dyes and colourants. All of which are not bio-degradable. Sure, you can shop eco-friendly or bio-degradable cards, but why not take it one step further…
There are now Christmas cards available that are actually plant-able. Yes, you heard that correctly. This means the paper used is biodegradable and contains seeds. The whole card can be planted (following the instructions!) and you can grow an array of flowers or herbs with it come spring. These are not only an absolute treat for the receiver, but also help to increase biohabitat areas for insects.
6. RETHINK YOUR CHOICE OF TREE
Evergreen trees have been used decoratively around the world for centuries. The Egyptians, the Hebrews and the Chinese all share documented evidence of tree and garland decorating. The Pagan tradition of tree worship is thought to be behind the concept of the modern Christmas tree in Europe. But no matter how majestic the tradition of tree decorating is, there are some unfortunate modern truths. Around 7 million real Christmas trees are discarded yearly in the UK. This means they don’t make it into composting or recycling systems.
Well, if having a real tree is bad for the environment, surely having a plastic tree can’t be much better (I hear you ask)? Well, there are some other options too. Some farms are now offering rental trees, which means you keep the tree alive and then return it. The tree is then replanted back into the forest with its root system intact. Another environmentally friendly option it to decorate a house plant instead of a Christmas tree. This means no trees are cut down, and you get to enjoy your plant all year round.
If you do choose to have a tree, make sure it’s grown as locally to you as possible. You can check local growers online, and also check your tree has the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label, meaning it’s grown to environmental standards. Once you are finished with your tree, please check online for local drop-off points where you can ensure your tree is recycled. That way it at least makes it back into the soil system and can contribute to making new compost.
7. RE-USE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
In general, we could all re-use and re-model an awful lot more. Not just at Christmas but all year round too. Upcycling is a brilliant way of giving old or discarded items, clothes or furniture a new lease of life.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries with a super high carbon footprint. Dyes and chemicals for treating fabrics use a high quantity of water, and waste is dumped into the ground and rivers. We know just how tempting it can be to shop for glitzy new outfits for all those wonderful parties. But how about repurposing or customising an outfit you already have? You can also swap or share outfits with a friend, or attend a community-wide clothing swap. Charity shops and vintage stores are also great for finding second-hand gems.
Advent calendars are super cute and quaint, and we also absolutely adore them. But all that card and packaging also just gets chucked away. You can now buy reusable advent calendars, which means year after year you can replace the windows with new chocolates or goodies. This also means you can get a way more creative and personalised calendar year after year! You could also even try making your own calendar, again this is a super fun and crafty sustainable Christmas activity for everyone.