Christmas is that very special time of the year when we allow ourselves to let go and buy more, eat more, stay up later more… We tend to be good all year, watching our waist and our budgets that it feels like a release to just let go.
I have always been environmentally conscience, recycling, up-cycling, buying greener products, reusing all possible… We, as a society, have become greener and things like re-cycling have become second nature. However, I have to admit that I have to work harder to make “greener” decisions sometimes, especially around this time of the year when excess seems to be the norm.
I decided to make an bigger effort this year. I have made a list of some very achievable tips towards a greener Christmas that I can easily implement in my house. I hope to stick to these tips every Christmas so that they will become second nature and my kids will grow up making the same decisions without thinking twice about it.
1. BUY LESS
Yes, I know. I think this is the main struggle for everyone. I don’t usually buy everything for Christmas at the same time so I often forget what it is that I already have. Lists will be your best friends to achieve this goal. Write everything down and keep track of your purchases.
This year I have two lists: one for food and another one for presents. Every time I buy something, I write it on the list so I can keep track of what I have. This will help me to make sure that no presents are left in the attic or in some hiding place, and that a special treat that was bought a bit too far in advance is not forgotten in the pantry and wasted.
2. BUY SMART – SUPPORT LOCAL INDUSTRIES AND CHARITIES
Some of the presents we buy for family and friends come from half way around the world and the impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Try buying gifts in your local crafts and artisan shops this Christmas. Gifts made locally often have a story which goes with the gift, since the artisan and the origin of the gift are known, which makes the present much more personal and there is minimum transportation involved. This will also go towards supporting your local economy.
Try also looking for presents in your local charity shops. Over the years, I have found brilliant treasures for small change in second hand charity shops that would have been out of my budget buying it new, from antique platters to 70s coats. As the benefit of your purchase goes towards the charity itself, it is a present that keeps on giving.
3. LOWER THE IMPACT OF FESTIVE LIGHTS
Christmas lights are essential on the tree and around the house, but we must remember to turn all the lights off when going to bed to minimise the impact on the environment. Led lights use less energy that traditional lights and they can be found everywhere, even for Christmas indoor and outdoor lighting, so they are the perfect choice if you are looking at replacing some of your lights.
4. MIND YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE
If you are using an artificial tree, try to make it last as long as possible in order to maximise their value.
If you are going for a natural tree, they tend not to have roots so you should check with your local council to see what recycling options they are offering and what their collection point s are after the holiday season. If you were lucky enough to get a natural tree with roots, you may be able to use it for 2 or 3 years without having to re-plant it. If or when you are replanting it, make sure it is a suitable location, not too close to the foundations of the house.
5. ALTERNATIVES TO WRAPPING PAPER
The amount of wrapping paper purchased, used and wasted around Christmas time is scary. This year I am going to try to use all the left overs of “normal” wrapping paper that I have and adding a Christmas twist to it with some ribbon, a Christmas decoration, pine cones or a simple Santa sticker or drawing on top.
If you have to buy wrapping paper, try to get recycled paper and avoid glossy foil and metallic paper which are very difficult to recycle.
Gift bags are a great alternative to wrapping and they can be re-used later on.
I think these tips are very achievable and easy to stick by. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Maybe introducing a new “greener option” every Christmas should be part of our family Christmas tradition. I like that idea.
I’ll put it in my calendar for next year.