Now we are well into December with Christmas fast approaching, have you thought about ways to make the lead up to the big event a little more sustainable and green? We have been building on our journey to zero waste since last year, so there are lots of things we can share that might help you too.
Something you want, need, wear and read
Have you ever heard of the Something you want, something you need, something you wear and something you read? This is a good way to stay in control of the presents you are buying for the kids (or as general presents!). There is the tendency to over buy each year, and although I am guilty of this (I have a panic mid December that I haven’t got the kiddos enough then add to what I have, and then discover actually they have enough and put the extras away again). Our kids are still quite small and thankfully are not influenced by the constant tv advertising, and plugging of certain brands and products. They are into their lego and that’s what they have asked for. They always get something they need, a few books and some clothes, but not heaps.
If you still need to buy gifts, then the best way to do it is to look locally and try to get as much as you can that way. I know it isn’t always possible, so the next step is to buy online – I always try to buy from smaller, more ethical outlets than the big, multinational corporations, but again, that isn’t always possible. However, most of the kiddos stuff has been sourced locally or through really good shops that I trust to support ethical, fair trade and sustainable-produced products. There are some that don’t fall under these shops, so I just bite my tongue and do the best I can for everything else.
If you were really savvy, you could be scouting out the charity shops for preloved bargains. There are always lots of things for sale which have had little or no use at this time of the year, and guaranteed, you will find something for someone (even if it is your secret Santa present!).
Christmas Eve Boxes
Christmas Eve boxes – anyone do those? There are some beautifully crafted ones here on Island – but just consider what you are putting into them. Lots of preloved movies and books available through preloved sites and charity shops. Or how about you check what you have first in your own house because chances are, if there is a Christmas movie you all love, you may already own it!
This is a biggie and a good way to significantly reduce your waste over the festive period. Buy what you think you will need to eat and not much more. Everyone goes mental at Christmas making sure the house is full to the gills with food and drink that will not be eaten. We will not be doing this at ours. We will think carefully about what we are likely to want to eat and work out how we will make it. Work out your list and see what on that list you can make yourself. I know the party food looks fab and when you can buy it in a pack, it is handy. But, you can make it all yourself without half the waste, half the cost and it’s all freshly prepared by your own fair hands. We will be aiming to make as much as we can from scratch, we just need to work out exactly what that is!!
For your food, the more you can buy locally, either via the producers or at the markets, the easier it is to refuse the packaging and pop straight into your own shopping bags or into your own containers. I will be hoping to get as much as I can locally (all ordered with local producers), and use all local ingredients for the bits and bobs we will be making, and that way, it doesn’t matter what happens the weather or disruption to the boats towards the 20 something of December because I won’t be relying on anything arriving on them!
Wrapping paper – how about this year you use an alternative to wrapping paper (which cannot be recycled) – how about classical brown paper and twine? Fabric wrapping (check out furoshiki – it’s fab!) or fabric gift bags. This is what we will mostly be doing this year along with using up a little of leftover paper from last year. We have both paper tape (as well as washi tape) and recycled plastic tape if we need it. Have you got any gift bags you can reuse (I never write names on the tags so they can be easily reused)? Or just give the present in the gift bag in the hope it will be used again. We have reusable wooden engraved gift tags, and we are in our 3rd year of these, so that works too. Otherwise, luggage labels can be really effective and pretty.
I think in the build-up to Christmas, it always also helps to understand exactly what your local amenity site will take back for recycling. While it’s always better to reduce and reuse, some things can’t be helped so recycling is a good option for that. Once you know what you can recycle, it should help inform your choice of products if you know you can recycle. Know when your local site is open again after Christmas to shift any recyclables you have had and that helps you keep on top of it rather than putting into the regular bin.
There are lots of small things that we can all do to make our Decembers better and to reduce the amount of waste we generate. I think if we are all smarter about the actual need for buying presents (do we really need presents and do we really need to give them) then the amount of consumerism we experience at the minute would reduce. I think people put themselves under immense pressure to deliver too much at Christmas, when actually, for many people, your time is all they want. Look at the experience gifts. Look at the kindness advent calendar. Think about the reverse advent calendar for the food bank. Set up a number of “tokens” for people – do their housework, go for a walk, read to them, babysit for them, cook them dinner – many of these small actions are immeasurable and will put a smile on a face with little or no cost to you and they mean so much more than buying a present for the sake of buying something. Think about it, and I bet you will get much more out of this Christmas than you may have in previous years.