10 Ways To Make Christmas More Sustainable
Are you looking for ways to make Christmas more sustainable in 2021? The slow move to more sustainable living is becoming a sprint as COP26 and the environmentalists have highlighted the fast approach of the climate crisis.
Whilst it’s ultimately up to business and world leaders to make the decisions that will protect our future, many are asking what they, as individuals, can do. Switch to electric cars? Better insulate our homes? There are many changes we can make, the effects of which make for many heated dinner table debates. Yet, what most of us agree on is that we tend to overdo. We simply consume too much.
So, with the season of shopping descending upon us, we’re looking at how to make Christmas more sustainable.
Without losing the spirit of giving that makes the holiday so special, here are some top ways to make Christmas more sustainable:
Introduce Quality Control
We use the term ‘sustainable’ so regularly now we’re in real danger of being greenwashed by marketing. The problem is, the term ‘sustainable’ has all sorts of connotations, including that it is going to be more expensive and that the products won’t be as good.
Instead, let’s consider ‘quality control’. Truly sustainable products tend to be very well-made being that they are expected to last for longer. So, yes, sometimes they are more expensive.
Consequently, at Christmas, to be more environmentally conscious we need to focus on quality, not quantity. Especially when it comes to kid’s presents.
I hereby give you the approval to be ‘one of those parents’ who request plastic-free eco-friendly gifts only.
Not a parent? Make sure you mention that sustainability is important to you when asked for your Christmas list too.
Generally, I find those who tell you it’s ‘ever so easy to make your own’ tend to seriously overestimate my crafting abilities. Let’s face it, most made-at-home gifts are well-intended amateur items that never get used. Therefore, not so eco-friendly.
Except, I am totally sold on handmade soap as a gift because it really is very easy to make and it really does get used. The simplest way to make soap is to use a Melt and Pour base which means it’s not 100% natural, but it’s close. If using Melt and Pour then there’s not much else you need and you can create some great scented, beautiful soap bars in no time at all.
Apart from generally being cheaper than buying soap, the eco-friendly purpose of this is to encourage the use of hard soap. Bar soap is just as effective in sanitisation and there’s less to no packaging.
Love the minimal packaging, hard soap idea but not the DIY part? We have some amazing, gorgeously scented, all-natural soap available for just £2 per bar, including Lavender Soap and Lemongrass and Poppy Seed.
Promote The Planet
It is said that the best gift is that of education and this is especially true for raising awareness about the environment. For those interested in living more sustainably, a book about this can be perfect and could help them make small desired changes.
We like The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide but there are plenty to choose from.
There are also lots of lovely illustrated books for children to help them learn about the importance of protecting the plant. Greta And The Giants is a great easy to understand story about how children can make a real difference. It’s also beautifully optimistic which is important when introducing children to these big issues.
Eco Christmas Wrapping Paper
I’m going to go on about throwaway gift wrapping paper until I no longer see it in any stores! Many people are not aware that most gift wrap is not recyclable. Full of microplastics, gift wrap often has added glitter or treatments applied to the paper and we throw away 227,000 miles of the stuff every year.
Brown parcel paper is the simplest most affordable alternative but if you’re discouraged by how dull it is then there are ways to pretty it up. Use excess Christmas decorations and ribbons you can reuse each year. Or, decorate the paper itself with stamps - the kids will love helping with this!
Alternatively, fabric wrap has become popular, with gifts being wrapped in patterned scarves or Furoshiki gift wrapping. It’s counter-productive though to buy new fabric so, if you can, use what you have or buy recycled materials.
Go Vintage With Your Decorations
Every year Christmas shops pop up selling cheap decorations, most of which have been unethically produced and inevitably end up in landfill. Still, Christmas is traditionally about bringing that which brings us joy into our homes to brighten our mood in the long winter. So if you, like me, love a Christmassy house, then there are plenty of wonderful Christmas decorations looking for new homes.
Try your Facebook Marketplace, e-bay or free-cycle second-hand decorations. After many years of excess, there are so many items out there in wonderful condition being cleared out so you don’t have to buy new.
Vintage decorations can also be a beautiful way to decorate your home and Christmas tree. Plus, they tend to come in a wide variety of colours, be more unique and each feels as if it carries a story.
Check out these Vintage Christmas Decorations from the 1950s and 1960s on Etsy.
Party Dress Swap Party
Seeking a new outfit for that special Christmas party? It’s lovely to get something new, but something new can mean something that’s new to you. Charity shops are one idea but if you’re using them often then it may not feel special enough. Plus, it’s time-consuming going through racks of clothing that isn’t your style. Instead, why not add another fun event to the Christmas calendar and organise a clothes swapping party with friends?
The concept is simple. Invite all your friends and maybe even ask them to invite someone else too, then make it a ‘bring your own’ for drinks, put some music on, open the Kettle Chips and make an evening of it. Oh, and don’t forget the most essential part. Ask everyone to bring along an outfit (or multiple outfits) they no longer want and keep your fingers crossed they’ll be something you love. Many of us have statement outfits we loved but won’t wear again. Or something we bought that never suited us so was never worn. You may find your perfect Christmas Party outfit and, even if you don't, you’ll have the most fun you’ve ever had shopping.
Reusuable Advent Calandars
A staggering 16.5 million advent calendars are bought in the UK every year. That’s a lot of single-use plastic and, as much as I LOVE chocolate and watching the kids open their daily doors with such excitement, there is another way.
Why not make, or buy, a reusable advent calendar that you can bring out year after year? New isn’t always better. That’s why the children love to see the Elf On The Shelf return each year (the parents less so) and their stockings come out of the attic. Some items just hold memories and that’s why we keep them and even pass them down the generations. Your advent calendars can be the same.
Aside from which, having your own reusable ones means you can fill them with whatever you like. Some kids prefer candy canes, small gifts (maybe not every day) or they need dairy-free or nut-free chocolate.
Here are some great ideas for reusable advent calendars to make your Christmas more sustainable.
Give your friends a gift and introduce them to the world of refillable. This won’t work for everyone as it’s necessary to live near to a refill store. Once you’ve located one near to your friend or family member, purchase some fancy glass jars/bottles and fill them up in-store with hair care products and bubble bath. Don’t forget to include a card letting them know where they can get the bottles refilled once they’ve run out.
We love this idea because it’s a lovely pamper gift but might also help your loved one form a life-long habit that could drastically cut down on their plastic waste. Plus, skin and hair care products at refill stores tend to be eco-friendly and all-natural.
What do you give the person who has everything? How about a memory?
Gift-giving is getting harder these days because in the modern world we don’t tend to wait for the things we need. Many of us though are working hard and spinning multiple plates and what we need most is a well-deserved break.
Now that the world is opening up again and moving toward (hopefully) a post-pandemic state, most of us are keen to get out there and experience more again. This Christmas why not give theatre tickets, experience gift certificates or even book a class or workshop for a loved one.
Subscription boxes are also gaining popularity this year, especially for children, and there’s plenty of eco-friendly kits to choose from.
Perhaps you’re friends and family have missed seeing you due to multiple lockdowns in the past couple of years and what they’d most love is a lovely dinner out with you in the New Year. Plus, you’ll likely be supporting businesses that suffered during the pandemic so you’ll be giving them a boost too.
No, I don’t mean buy less, although that’s probably wise too. I mean try to buy from smaller retailers. Big businesses aren’t always bad, many are becoming more sustainable by the day. Still, there are many smaller retailers who've launched their businesses on sustainable values. That means they put the planet at the heart of what they do and since they don’t usually make the kinds of profits that larger retailers enjoy, because they usually source products ethically, I’m big on championing small ethical businesses at Christmas.
Yes, having a small ethical business myself, I have a vested interest in this but hey, that’s why I launched Out Of The Box Gifts. I wanted to make gift-giving a guilt-free experience. So if your Christmas is about sharing and giving back, then start with buying from those who are working towards making positive changes in the retail world to safeguard the future of the planet.