It’s that time of year again! Nope, I’m not talking about the festive holiday when everyone’s nice to each other… I’m talking about the time when everyone goes crazy for consumerism. This seems to creep around quicker every year and the older I get, it becomes more a time of frustration than a time of joy. I don’t want to be too much of a scrooge – of course I love seeing my family and singing Christmas songs and eating aaaaall the roast potatoes. But everything about the 25th of December seems to be about consuming, buying, and wasting as much as we can. So, to clear my conscience a little (because we all play a part in it), here are some easy tips to green-ify your Christmas.
Make your own Christmas cards
Billions of Christmas cards are sent globally every year, and a lot of them are read once, proudly displayed for a couple of weeks and then recycled (perhaps a bit optimistic – most are probably binned). Something that really gets you feeling festive in my opinion is making your own Christmas cards using old scraps, stamps, and other crafting bits and bobs you’ve got lying around. Last year, my mum found vintage Christmas postcards in antique shops and attached them to another piece of card to send around! Definitely more time-consuming, but kinder to the planet and so much more meaningful than shop-bought ones. If you don’t make your own, try to buy from local, small businesses or even packs of charity cards which are sold pretty much everywhere. Something else friends of mine have done is send e-cards, which costs nothing and is much quicker. Maybe not quite as exciting to open, but it’s the thought (and tiny carbon footprint) that counts.
Make your own wrapping paper
Very much following the theme of the first tip, try not to buy wrapping paper unless it’s from a small, local business, and preferably completely recyclable as lots of types are not. Anything with glitter on cannot be recycled, so although it’s very pretty, that’s one to stay away from. Last year, I bought a roll of brown paper from my local zero waste shop, and used half of a potato with some paint I had lying around to print little Christmas trees all over it. It was so much fun and everything looks better homemade. The other thing to do is keep wrapping paper from previous gifts and re-use it – my family have always done this and, granted, you look a bit crazy ironing paper but the truth is if you unwrap things carefully, paper can be used a number of times before it eventually needs to be recycled. Something else we’ve always done is wrap things in newspaper – there’s no shortage of old newspapers and sometimes the headlines and pictures are actually quite funny. These homemade tips also apply to decorations – I’ve made my own wreath for the past 5 years and it’s one of my favourite days of December!
Rent a tree
We all know how important trees are, and it’s so sad to me that so many get chopped down every year to be used for a few weeks before they’re discarded. In most places now (certainly in the UK) it’s possible to ‘rent’ a Christmas tree that gets re-planted after the festive season so that nothing goes to waste. It’s so special too because some of these businesses will offer you to have the same tree every year, so you know it’s enjoying the outdoors for 50 weeks of the year and then comes in to be decorated by you for the other 2, and you get to know it over the years!
Don’t buy things for the sake of it
Probably the most important point of all. Unfortunately Christmas has become an excuse to spend obscene amounts of money on things we don’t even need. Scrolling on some online shops, the majority of things on offer are knick-knacks made of plastic that will probably break or get stuffed to the back of a drawer straight away. Nobody wants that! I like to keep a list on my phone of things that loved ones mention throughout the year, so that when the time comes, I know what I’m getting for them is something they really want. Side note – try to buy as much as you can second hand, too. My family has definitely gotten used to me giving them pre-loved gifts now, and no one has ever complained (they’re in good condition, obviously!)
Vegan-ify your Christmas roast
If possible, try to get some vegan alternatives for the meat that’s usually on your table, and research the fruit and veg that’s currently in season where you live so that you’re buying local. The meat and dairy industries have a massive ecological footprint and especially at this time of the year, so you can help to alleviate that by substituting some (or all if you’re feeling ambitious) of your dinner so that it’s vegan or vegetarian.
There are many ways in which you can be more eco-friendly at Christmas, but the main thing is to just be mindful of pretty much anything you’re pumping money into or consuming. It’s easy to overdo it this time of year, but we could all gain from chilling out a bit and sparing a thought for people who can’t ‘overdo’ it. Ways to do this include donating to your local food bank, spending Christmas morning helping at a homeless shelter and dropping a note to someone spending the festive period on their own. Basically, look out for each other <3