We all want to be more eco friendly, but can you really have an eco friendly Christmas? I think the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. We can certainly all take steps to reduce our single use, our plastic use and stop buying things we don’t need. But what about all of the things out of our control? Do we have the energy to buy everything from the loose produce shop or complain to retailers about unnecessary packaging? It’s a tricky one. Sometimes we might find that we can, and that we have all the energy in the world and at other times, we’ll find it all too overwhelming. So, how do we solve this? How do we navigate around what our less impact goals are and feel like we’re making a difference without reaching eco burnout?
What steps can we take for an eco friendly Christmas?
I can’t claim to have all of the answers, but what I can do is tell you my top tips to a less waste Christmas and festive season. Without judgment. We all feel overwhelmed at times and we can only manage what is personally right for us. So my first top tip is:
- Do not beat yourself up, simply try your best.
- Make a list of all of the things you need to do and buy in the build up to the festive season.
- Start to take things off the list if they are making you feel stressed.
- Involve all of the family in choosing what goes on the list.
- Start with small things, like making your own tags or Christmas cards, get the family involved in this – use up last year’s cards and wrapping to create this years.
- Look for recycled materials and for recyclable materials where you can’t reuse.
- Look at present buying and wrapping next, can you buy from small businesses who will wrap for you and minimise waste? You can ask for eco packaging and wrapping, most businesses will be happy to wrap in lovely tissue paper or kraft paper for you.
- Can you buy plastic free gifts? Have a look around, maybe use social media to research great eco businesses and blogs so that you can reference them later when you are looking at buying presents (if you’ve made it our site then you’re half way there as we stock a wide range!)
- Think about buying presents that will last longer than the festive season, so will it be suitable for the whole year or longer, whether that’s toys or puzzles or well being gifts, socks, clothing etc?
- What about books? Gifting books can be a great way around gifting in a more eco friendly way.
- Consider preloved options – so much is given to charity shops post Christmas that you’re bound to find brand new items in there as well as preloved ones.
- Make it yourself – from baked goods, to knitted hats and handmade decorations, if you’re at all creative, this can be a fabulous way of gifting in a more eco way, provided your recipient will appreciate it! Don’t worry if you’re not creative, there are plenty of amazing people out there making beautiful things for you to buy as gifts.
- Shop small and local, minimising traveling times, stress times and supporting the local businesses and local economy.
- Consider what you’re eating at Christmas, can you switch to vegan or vegetarian options? Can you buy most things plastic packaging free? Most supermarkets have less packaging options now, but you might have to shop around if you have the time and/or energy.
- Think about switching to reusables wherever you can, from napkins to Christmas crackers, wrapping, gift bags and advent calendars, making a change this year can cut down on waste each and every year.
- Chat to family and friends so that they know what you’re aiming for and can help with the gifts they buy or the foods they bring – make it a team effort!
Making the festive season magical
You may have read tips like these before and you may have actioned some of them, or you may have felt under too much pressure to be making, baking, shopping and recycling during the festive season. That’s totally okay, we’re human after all! If you can make one small change this festive season though, that can have a huge impact and if it is a change that you can sustain throughout the rest of the year, then that’s even better. Sometimes all it takes is one thing for us to feel like we can achieve a difference in the world. Last year I swapped to reusable fabric wrapping and whilst it cost me a bit more last year, it means that this year I have no wrapping to buy, as I can simply reuse. No recycling for me this year! (Apart from everything else!) So whatever your eco goal is this year, make it manageable and sustainable over the longer term. Most important of all is to make your Christmas as magical as you can, so don’t let the goal of being more eco make you feel overwhelmed. Simply go back to basics and simplify things for yourself. Very often less really is more.