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I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time of year.
But Christmas is often a time of overconsumption and excessive waste.
Tell me honestly, when you reminisce on past Christmases, what do you remember? What were your favourite parts?
I’m sure it wasn’t the presents, or what they were wrapped in.
It certainly wasn’t those cheap stocking stuffers that you know all came from the same two dollar store, that never (ever) got used. Or the guilt that goes with never using them.
No, these aren’t the things you recall.
What you remember is how you felt, and the experience of being surrounded by loved ones and having a good time. Christmas should be a time for being with loved ones and having positive, memorable experiences, not for ruining the earth and cluttering your life with stuff.
I have a few really simple tips to help with reducing your impact on the earth and having an eco-friendly Christmas this festive season.
This is something many people overlook. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint of the items you buy, meaning that they’re much kinder to the environment.
Locally made items are often higher in quality, and may even be handmade. These are the best kind of product, because someone put a whole lot of time, effort, and love into it.
Where I live, there is a handmade market/expo each quarter with strict guidelines on what you can sell, i.e. it MUST be handmade by you or someone you know, and cannot under any circumstances be imported, mass produced, or manufactured.
If you’re curious, it’s The Handmade Expo.
Buying local also supports local business rather than sending profits overseas. This means that the local families who own these businesses can have an easier, more enjoyable Christmas break rather than working their butts off just to afford a ham.
Changing up your present-wrapping routine can be good for your wallet and the earth too.
The regular glossy paper is generally made from new, not recycled, paper, and often can’t be recycled. There’s a number of alternatives available though. I’ll go through two of my favourites for you:
It couldn’t be easier to get your hands on second hand newspaper.
You can likely find it for free in many places. If you don’t like the look, you can always dress it up with a ribbon, which can be reused, or, if you’re at all artistic you can decorate the paper with illustrations.
You might even give newspaper art a go! Bows, pom poms, and even roses if you’re game. If your gift receiver enjoys nature, you might attach real foliage of some kind with twine.
If you need a gift bag – use newspaper and twine. It looks adorable.
If that still doesn’t do it for you, you could incorporate artistic elements into the wrapping itself, like pleats and extra folds. This can help to dispel the perception that you don’t care, because you wrapped it in newspaper. If you take the time to do something really cool with it, people will take notice!
Or, you could use natural colours (e.g. beetroot, turmeric, blueberries) to colour the paper.
There are endless ideas, your only limit is your imagination. Try some new methods and surprise yourself 🙂
Furoshiki is a Japanese method of wrapping gifts, using cloth instead of paper.
You can save tonnes of trees and water by using cloth to wrap your gifts.
Not to mention, it can look really beautiful, especially if you’re not a fan of the newspaper look and you’re after an alternative.
There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to do it.
This will be my first year giving it a go (I’ve favoured newspaper in the past), but when I come across any good tips I’ll be sure to share them with you!
If you don’t know where to get material, think outside the box. Use old scarves that don’t get much attention any more, or vintage (or new) handkerchiefs.
You could even check out second hand shops for scarves, handkerchiefs, and scraps of material sold for sewing.
For large items, get creative with a towel, a sarong, or even your curtains! Chances are you’ll get the material back so you don’t have to worry about buying new linen after each event. That would defeat the purpose.
Unwanted scarves or scraps of material work best for when you don’t think you’ll get it back.
Don’t gift STUFF
Gift experiences and your time, not things.
You’ll always remember the time that you went skydiving. You won’t remember the dozens of gimmicky cups you received.
During conversations with friends and family, take note of things they say they want to try, do, or achieve. Chances are you can turn these wishes into gifts.
It goes the other way, too. Think of activities you like to do and suggest that these be your presents, rather than physical things you have to store and feel guilty about not using.
Still gift responsibly though. Don’t get a skydive for someone who’s afraid of flying. Don’t get a hot lap for someone uninterested in cars and speed.
If you’re having trouble thinking of good gifts, check out my post on the matter.
Buy useful stocking stuffers
If you do feel obliged to buy stocking stuffers, buy unpackaged or low-packaging consumables where you can, and pack them yourself into something reusable.
- sweets, nuts, even someone’s favourite fruit
- cheeses and cured meats
- shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bars
- a small aloe Vera plant
- coconut fibre body scrubber
- bamboo toothbrushes, locally made toothpaste
- homemade foods like jam, bread, biscuits – whatever they love to eat
- seeds for vegetables, or flowers if that’s what they prefer.
The list is endless, you just need to think for a minute about what they use and will like.
Walk to look at Christmas lights
Rather than drive around looking at lights, ditch the car and walk the streets.
Not only is it fantastic exercise, but it gives you more time to appreciate the displays and makes you feel more connected to the neighbourhood.
This is an easy way to spend more quality time with friends and family.
If you live too far away to do this from home, drive to somewhere that you can. Park up somewhere safe and start walking!
There are plenty more things you can do, but this is a good jumping off point. Tell me in the comments what you do to have an eco-friendly Christmas period!
Image credit: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash