Here are our top tips for making Christmas sustainable and affordable this year. Let us know if you have any to add!
Why go green at Christmas?
Every year in the UK, we create a whopping additional 3 million tonnes of waste at Christmas. That’s a staggering 100 million bin bags going straight to landfill. And what’s inside those bin bags? Oh, wrapping paper filled with plastic, plastic packaging, gifts we bought that nobody really wanted… the usual.
The waste we create during the festive season is enough to make your eyes water, and yet every year we still splash more cash than we really need to. Will this year be any different? Let’s make a pledge now to make some changes.
It’s so tempting to buy all of those adorable little gift sets you see on the shelves at this time of year. They’re easy to grab when we’re time-poor, they’re nicely packaged and they take away the stress of having to really think about what to buy. Perfect! But most of these brightly decorated gift sets are probably not sustainable, nor are they what your loved ones really want! Here are some tips for real sustainable gifting that truly won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Avoid single-use plastic gifts
Single-use plastic is bad news at any time of the year, but especially during Christmas. And let’s be clear, gifts that are packaged in an inordinate amount of plastic are just as bad too. Avoid, avoid, avoid! Look for gifts that are made using biodegradable ingredients and that have sustainable packaging too. It might take a little longer, but its worth it.
Choose Fairtrade and ethically made
Fairtrade and ethically made products give back to the communities and local economies when you buy them. Fairtrade products meet a set of standards that are set out to ensure that both production and supply support workers rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay.
When you buy fairtrade, it gives farmers and workers the chance to reinvest in change; to continue making products that are made using climate-friendly processes and to focus more on developing women in business too. It’s a win win and a must for ethical gifting this festive season.
If you truly want to see changes in the ways that we consume as a community, then why not invest in reusable gifts this Christmas? Buy them that water bottle, or that cute shopping bag. Take them on the first steps towards their own sustainable journey and hopefully they won’t ever look back!
If you’re a whizz in the kitchen, edible gifts are a great idea for Christmas- especially if your recipient already seemingly has everything already! Cookies, fudge, mince pies and more- its up to you, but we know your loved one is already looking forward to their very own festive feast!
Experience gifts are another way that you can gift sustainably. Whether its a year’s subscription to Netflix or a day out at their favourite museum- there are loads of experience gifts that you can choose this year that won’t need wrapping at all! Leading on to our next set of tips…
Wrapping paper, wrapping paper, wrapping paper everywhere! Christmas morning in most houses is filled with the stuff, and most of it can’t be recycled thanks to the plastic they use to make it- not to mention the plastic they wrap it in to sell it! Don’t be a part of it this Christmas.
Recycle wrapping paper
Save any wrapping paper you receive and re-use it. We do this here at Little Soap with any packaging we receive so that we can keep its life cycle going for as long as possible.
If you do buy wrapping paper, make sure it’s plastic-free. It might take a little research, but there are more brands out there now that are making that effort to provide sustainable gift wrap options.
Make your own wrapping paper
Got some parcel paper at home? Then make your own paper! Get the kids involved with eh decorating, or use stamps to make it a little more festive. Or, just a a piece of string and a carefully penned tag can look just as pretty. Making your own wrapping paper is easy, affordable and sustainable- and hopefully your recipient will save it to re-use next year too!
Recycled newspapers can also be used to wrap gifts. Yes, this one is a little alternative but the end result is the same- its going to be ripped off your gift in the end, but at least newspaper can be recycled.
There are some companies out there who offer fabric wrapping paper, but you can easily make your own too. Use old scarves to create beautifully wrapped gifts that can then be used for their original purpose afterwards. Two gifts in one!
Christmas decorations are a must for the festive season, but lots can be filled with plastic and snuggle to make it through to Boxing Day. Here are our top tips for creating atmosphere without compromising the earth.
Before you reach for those baubles (even the eco-friendly, fair-trade baubles!), stop. Do you really need new decorations? Get up into the loft and sort through what you’ve already accumulated throughout the years.
Don’t buy new- use what you have from last year
Yes, they may be plastic but if they’re still in working order then use them. There’s no point in replacing old decorations with sustainable alternatives if what you already have is perfectly fine.
Avoid plastic decorations
If you do genuinely need to buy new decorations, then make sure they’re plastic-free. Better yet, make your own! Pine cones, dried fruit, pressed leaves- all can look amazing at Christmas (especially with a gorgeous candle lit!), and both are affordable and sustainable. And speaking of DIY decorations…
Buy a sustainable wreath or make your own
Please don’t opt for the plastic wreaths this year, unless you know you are going to use it again and again and again. Hand-made wreaths created with sustainable materials are so much nicer and a much better option for the planet.
Choose a real tree
If you need a new tree (if your old one stands fine, then re-use it!) then consider a real tree this year. Plastic trees are probably less work- once they’re up, they’re up and the carpet won’t need sweeping, we get it! But plastic trees are obviously the less eco-friendly option, and you’d have to use them for 5-20 years to offset the carbon they generate. Go for a real tree (you can even rent them from some places) or invest in a potted tree that you can then use again next year.
Cut down on lights
Fuel prices are crazy right now, so lots of you will be looking for ways to cut down. So, do you really need all of those lights? Plus, do they really need to be on while you’re out? We think not. Cut back, your bank balance and the planet will thank you