For many of us, this festive period is our chance to gather with family and loved ones. We truly hope that 2020 won’t keep you from spending time with them.
Christmas is often a time of over-consumption and waste can rapidly build up. But with a little bit of thought it’s actually very fun to make Christmas the ideal time to do things differently. We gathered here a couple of tricks for a sustainable christmas.
- Christmas Tree
- Gift wrapping
- Food waste
- If you have a garden, you can consider buying a living Christmas Tree in its pot, meaning that its roots are intact, so you can actually replant it outdoor. If this option looks like something you can do, learn more on how to do that here.
- Did you know you can also rent a Christmas tree? This option becomes more and more popular! One option in France is Treezmas but a quick check online should give you a couple of options for wherever you live.
- If you buy a tree without roots, feel no guilt. Some experts still consider that its carbon footprint is positive because it has produced oxygen while growing. In that case, give priority to locally grown trees and make sure that you dispose of it correctly. Many municipalities will organise a proper collect in the days following Christmas.
- Have you thought about buying second-hand decorations? It is something we tend to forget, but thrift shops might have plenty of options. Check with your local one before buying anything new.
- Home-made decoration is also a very fun way to decorate you home. It can be a way to mindfully prepare Christmas, or a fun activity to do with your friend/family. Here are a couple of our favorites:
If you want to be more mindful about your Christmas gifting this year, here are a few ideas:
The gift of experience. Taking a trip together, attending an art exhibition, going to a concert or an escape room, enjoying a day at a trampoline park... Create memories with your loved ones! If you know that they would love to take on a new hobby, gift them a few introduction classes, etc
Gifts made with durable materials. When you buy a new item as a gift, invest in quality items such as cast iron pans. Choose natural materials over plastic: wooden toys, sustainably made game boards, etc
Zero waste activist gifts. Convert your friends and family to a zero-waste lifestyle. Offer them sustainable alternatives to disposable plastic products such as a safety razor, a reusable coffee cup or a reusable water bottle.
Give edible gifts. Fill up reusable glass jars with homemade treats such as candied nuts, biscotti, chocolate truffles, granola. Is there a better way to the heart of someone than food? Add some fun and decorate the jars.
Buy pre-loved. Find a unique gift in a second-hand shop. This is not common (yet), so be sure to choose the right person to give this gift to and explain your zero-waste approach. What counts in a gift, it’s the thought and love that the person behind it put into, not the price tag.
DIY gifts. A suitable alternative to buying gifts could be making them yourself. It takes time to make a handmade gift, you can be sure that the person will appreciate your thoughtfulness and efforts.
- Recyclable wrapping paper. Most wrapping papers, especially is they are shinny or glittery, contains plastic. This makes them unrecyclable. Conventional gift ribbons and knots are also made of plastic. Use kraft wrapping paper, old newspaper, raffia or cotton ribbons and other natural elements instead, to make sure that your packaging won’t contribute to plastic pollution.
- Have you heard about Furoshiki? If not, you have to check this out. It’s a Japanese technique of wrapping a gift in a square of fabric. The person who gets the gift can either give it back to you or use it for their own future giftings.
- Cotton bags: if you don’t have square of fabric available for that, or you don’t have the patience/skills to master the knotting technique, you can also use cotton bags similar to the one you use for bulk food shopping!
- When you receive a gift, avoid tearing it like we used to. Just unwrap it carefully, remove tape and tags and reuse for future gifts
- Plan ahead. Check what you have in your cupboard, list what you need, and shop in bulk to get only the quantities you need.
- Buffet style diners, as opposed as plated, often end up with less waste as everybody can get what they like in the portion they want.
- Portion it. Freeze it. Enjoy it. It’s difficult to plan for big tables when we are not used to. But a good trick is to cook a good batch of food, divide it in small portions, and serve portions to the table bit by bit. The ones untouched can be frozen and eaten at a later time. It’s always enjoyable to have a good diner ready in a matter a minutes after a long day of work.
- Know your labels: a “best before” is only an indication of taste and look but the food will remain safe to eat beyond that date. A “use by” is an indication you should be more careful with as it might not be edible anymore (most foods are still safe to eat after their “use by” though, but we won’t get into that)
- Get creative with the leftovers. If you need some inspiration, check Love Food Hate Waste as they have plenty of smart ideas to make sure you make the most of the food you have on hand.
We hope those little tricks will help you if you're looking to do things a little more sustainable this year. But Christmas is a time of indulgence, pleasure and gatherings. Waste will happen. Don't feel too much guilt. Try your best, spread some love and make sure you enjoy this time of the year as much as you can.