“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means just a little bit more.”
It’s not often that I quote the Grinch, but in this case, and perhaps this year more than any other, case Dr Seuss’ fictional character is spot on.
Ordinarily, Christmas is a magical time of year but on the flip side it’s also one of significant excess and unnecessary waste. As Sir David Attenborough recently said during a BBC Breakfast interview, “Don’t waste anything.” Never has a truer or more important sentence been uttered.
If we are to get serious about tackling the many issues facing our planet, then even the festive season shouldn’t be immune to changes.
Below are our top tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas and give our beautiful planet the special present it deserves…
- Avoid the gimmicks
From pre-packed ‘reindeer food’ (what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned carrot?!) that’s bad for wildlife, to Christmas Eve boxes full of unneeded items, try not to get sucked in.
Think quality not quantity and perhaps introduce shared gift lists and secret Santa’s to encourage everyone to buy less. Consider what gifts are made of, who by and where. Swap plastic toys for wooden ones, big brand toiletries for kinder alternatives. And give homemade gifts or experiences too.
- Wrapping paper
It’s not an exact science but if you scrunch wrapping paper into a ball and it stays that way, it’s more likely that it’s plastic free and can be composted or recycled. Even better, use recycled brown (“craft”) paper and/or reusable gift bags. And, crucially, avoid plastic sticky tape! Paper tape is readily and cheaply available online. And cut out the bows, gift tags and ribbon or find reusable and recyclable alternatives.
Of course, the obvious answer would be to avoid cards. Otherwise, aim to buy cards that are made from recycled, FSC (sustainable) or seed paper and free from non-biodegradable glitter, badges and plastic wrapping.
Again, you could opt to avoid crackers completely or why not make your own, often reusable, ones? If you do decide to buy some, try to ensure that they are both recycled and recyclable and free of plastic toys.
If you already own an artificial tree, enjoy it year after year for as long as you can. If you are in need of a new one, consider instead a real tree that is FSC or Soil Association approved. Or, you can now even rent a real tree!
- Advent calendars
Make or buy a reusable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free treats. Anything wrapped in foil or delicious Divine chocolate are among the better options. The growing trend towards more expensive, toy-filled calendars means more unnecessary waste.
- Christmas lunch
Can you buy your meat (or consider a vegetarian lunch?) plastic free from a local butcher, and your vegetables unwrapped from a local greengrocer, farm shop or certain supermarkets? Wherever possible, aim to avoid unnecessary packaging and only buy and prepare what you really need to avoid food waste.
Wine bottles with a cork are a better option than a screw top. If you’re buying beer, avoid plastic packaging and opt for cans over glass or plastic. When it comes to soft drinks, swap plastic bottles for glass or cans.
- At the end of it all
Ensure that you recycle and dispose of everything correctly when the fun is over. If in doubt, look online, contact your local council or drop Plastic Free Home a line! Prepare beforehand by getting bags or boxes ready for things like wrapping paper, cardboard and recyclable plastic. Remember to donate any unwanted leftovers to a charity shop or food bank.
Not everyone can do everything but if we can each make some changes, they really do add up.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas when it comes and let’s all cross our fingers and toes that Santa brings us a more normal year in 2021.
You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.