Image by: David Goehring
Christmas is a time for family, friends and above all, giving back. However, have you ever thought about what we all end up giving to the world over the holiday period? Increased emissions from vehicles and planes as we all rush to get home, mountains of uneaten food, wrapping and non-degradable decor going into landfill… along with all those unwanted Christmas gifts!
This Christmas, make a pact to keep your eco-credentials – your bank balance will be better off, and you’ll have a beautiful, guilt free Christmas!
First things first, you’re going to need to get to your destination, or if you’re the Christmas hub then everyone will be coming to you. Try to encourage the use of greener transport like trains and buses, or if that’s not possible, get everyone to car pool to cut down on your family’s carbon footprint.
Need to see family abroad? Avoid planes if you can, as they are the worst culprits for carbon emissions in transport. Why not hop aboard a cruise boat and sail across the ocean the old fashioned way?
Buy the Right Gifts
It’s hard to buy a gift that someone will love if you don’t know them well, and you always run the risk of purchasing something that will just sit in the recipient’s attic for a while and then get thrown in the bin. Get each of your family to create Christmas lists, so you know the present you’re giving is wanted and won’t go to waste. If possible, smaller presents from eco-conscious retailers and manufacturers are best.
Otherwise, go alternative with your gifts. For the people that seemingly have everything, why not get a charitable gift, so someone less fortunate in the world will get a life-changing opportunity? Handmade gifts go down well too – why not try layering your favorite cake, brownie or cookie recipe dry (organic) ingredients in a glass jar, label with the recipe, and wrap in a bow? Cute, yummy, and eco-friendly. The jar can be reused for dry foods, and the ribbon can also be reused.
If you’re wrapping gifts, try newspaper (black and white text can be very chic when teamed with a black satin bow!) or wrapping made out of recycled paper, and be sure to recycle it all afterwards!
In fact, why not go one step further and eat your wrapping paper? No, I’m not crazy – check out this edible wrapping paper trend!
Keep it Real
Fake Christmas trees and other greenery don’t only not look as good as the real thing, they also end up in landfill. However, though real, cut trees are biodegradable, they have a short lifespan and they’re just as bad eco wise – there’s the deforestation, emissions from tractors and the transport to get them to your home, plus disposal afterwards.
Go for a real, living tree you can keep in the garden and use from year to year. Make sure it has a big pot to thrive in, and only bring it indoors for three days at most – make it a tradition to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, and take it down on Boxing Day.
Firstly, don’t fall into the trap of having a new Christmas color scheme every year! If you have lots of lovely decorations, they can be used year after year, and once they wear out can gradually be replaced with some more eco-friendly options.
Popcorn strings make a great alternative to tinsel, salt dough ornaments can look very stylish when painted, scraps of fabric or old clothes can be upcycled into cute, padded decorations, and you can try making your own baubles by painting old light bulbs.
Only Buy What You Need
Often we see Christmas as a time for opulence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re not going to be able to eat that whole turkey within a few days, why not get a crown cut instead or turn your leftovers into a myriad of yummy dishes and freeze?
Think about what you throw away every year, and don’t get sucked into supermarket special offers – yes, a pound of Brussels sprouts may be on a great deal, but if only Uncle Marvin likes them opt for a small amount or make some apologies!
How are you being greener this Christmas?
Estelle Page is an interior designer, mum and writer who loves he holiday season. She shares her tips on creating the perfect Christmas in an eco-conscious way for Oak Furniture Superstore.