Go eco and get your holiday season sorted
Many of us are looking forward to a relaxing break to celebrate Christmas and summer – we certainly are in the ecostore office! But it’s also a time that can come at a cost. In the lead up to Christmas Day, we find ourselves making lists of presents to buy, which means spending much more than we normally would and sometimes receiving gifts we don’t need.
We might also spend a lot on food for lunch or dinner for gathered family members, only to find some of that going to waste. And among all that there may be a tree, decorations, cards and wrapping to consider.
So how might a ‘greener’ Christmas make a difference? Well, it can make for a less stressful time, with less waste and not as many things cluttering our homes. As well as your present list, have a look through this list of items to make your holiday season a bit more eco-friendly.
If you’re planning a trip to the local shopping mall, you might think about what you can make for friends and family instead. Home baking and crafts can add a personal touch and may cost you less than other gifts. There are bound to be items around your home you can put to good use by upcycling them – like mason jars, wine bottles, redressing old furniture with fabrics or reclaiming wood and other materials like crates and pallets to make tables or garden pieces.
And while we’re often told it’s not okay to re-gift, that can be a practical option if someone else might use the gift and you won’t – that’s if you’re not offending the person who gave it to you!
If you find there are too many people to buy for, you might suggest a gift exchange with one other person, or giving a gift to a charity on a friend or family member’s behalf. Buying items made by local artisans and craftspeople is also a more sustainable option to cut down on transport and export miles, and help support neighbourhood industries.
Getting organised about your shopping trip will also make gift buying more eco-friendly – try to get your whole list sorted so you’re only making one trip – or carpool with others. And if you’re trying to reduce clutter in your home and other people’s, it’s a great idea to give a voucher for an experience or activity instead. Or you may choose to start an annual family activity to create shared time over summer, rather than giving gifts.
If you are buying gifts, it can be a good time to think about what’s in the products you buy. Buying items with fewer potentially harmful chemicals is a good start – try to find things made from more sustainable ingredients that are also healthier for you and your family. We have a whole range of plant-based personal care gift packs online, as well as a bunch of other ‘greener’ gifts that are cool for guys, ladies and kids.
Cards and wrap
Why not think outside the square instead of buying the latest thing someone else is selling in stores? Home-made cards are a great way to re-use paper and cardboard you already have. And there are things you can use to wrap presents besides new rolls of paper – like old newspapers , cardboard boxes, posters, material or large leaves. Or you can give gifts that don’t need wrapping, such as flowers, a potted plant or home baking, where you might only need a tied ribbon or a tin.
And if you do have cards and wrap left over, why not store them away to re-use and make into cards or decorations next year?
This is another area where you don’t need store-bought glitz. If you look around your yard or hunt for natural treasures while out walking, you can find several things to decorate a Christmas tree or your home, or make a wreath. Try pine cones or acorns, pine needles or leaves for a wreath, and combine these with a simple beeswax candle for a centrepiece. You may want to make paper cuts from saved paper or source locally made wooden, glass or metal ornaments. That can save buying plastic decorations that might later add to the world’s big pollution problems. And old clothes can provide good materials to turn into stockings for the kids.
There are also more energy efficient LED Christmas lights available that don’t draw as much power. Try to make sure you don’t run your lights at all times either.
If you’re going to have a Christmas tree, it’s worth considering that while an artificial tree may last longer, it may be made from less sustainable materials like plastic and could end up adding to landfills. A potted tree can last a few years, or you could buy a cut tree from a farm that regularly replants. Afterwards, a live tree can be mulched and spread in your garden.
Christmas lunch or dinner is often a well deserved chance to eat the treats we like – and more of them than usual! But with more people around the table, it’s possible we’ll create more waste, too. Try not to make so many dishes that you’ll have more leftovers than you can use up. When you’re creating your menu, try to buy only the ingredients you need and use as many parts of the bought produce as possible – that includes stalks, skins and seeds.
If you do have food left over, why not share it with friends in the days after your celebration, or donate it to a charity to be redistributed?
Try to source locally grown, organic produce for Christmas lunch or dinner to cut down your exposure to pesticides and to lower food miles.