I was kindly gifted some paperless post currency in exchange for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.
A guide to a more ethical and sustainable Christmas.
‘Ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ have without a doubt been the buzzwords of 2019. We’re all trying to do our bit for the environment but at Christmas time this can feel completely overwhelming. The whole month of December seems to revolve around indulgence, be that the way we eat or the way we shop. But, Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet, and it can be enjoyed mindfully without the sacrifice of the earth, your wallet or your mental health. Here is a list of realistic tips for a more sustainable and ethical Christmas.
Firstly, buy less, but buy better. We all know how exciting it is to shower your loved ones with lots of treats to open on Christmas morning, but one of the worst things we can do for the planet, and our wallets, is buy gifts for ‘the sake of it’. Buying one, more expensive gift for a loved one will mean so much more than numerous cheap items, and means it will get so much more love and use. For those gifts where you don’t want to spend a lot, consider things like a house plant, or some new sustainable goodies such as a coffee cup or water bottle. Try to support small businesses where possible, and have a rummage through your local charity shop for some great (sometimes nearly new) bargains. Trying to shop ethically and sustainable for babies, and toddlers is probably the most difficult. Toys are wrapped in so much single use plastic, and the pressure to spoil and splurge on the latest toys can be overwhelming. Use eBay and Facebook marketplace to find many nearly new (and sometimes brand new) toys at a heavily discounted price, whilst supporting the seller to raise money for their own little ones at Christmas. Two sustainable brands specifically for babies and toddlers that are particularly beautiful are Zuri & Jane and Tululu little one.
Secret Santa is one of the best hacks for reducing waste at Christmas. Whilst it has always been a popular choice in the workplace, why not adopt it into your friendship circle or even into the family? Secret Santa allows you to buy one, nicer gift for someone close to you, and setting a price limit can also remove any awkwardness around how much to spend on each other.
Consider gifting experiences rather than items. How many gifts do you receive each year that end up sat in a cupboard untouched and unloved? We all probably have more than we would care to admit. That’s why I love gifting experiences. It could be a spa day for mum, a fancy meal out with a girlfriend or even something a little more extravagant such as a racing car experience day. Not only do you know that your hard earned money is going to good use, you also could involve yourself and enjoy some quality time with your loved one.
Inevitably, you will be gifted things that you just don’t want or need. If the sender has been kind enough to include a gift receipt then do not feel guilty about exchanging it for something you actually want and are going to enjoy. After all, they have spent their hard earned money on you. However, when its something you can’t exchange then think about donating it straight to a charity shop, or use drop point for any items that your local charity shop will not take.
Most of the wrapping paper & Christmas cards we purchase are not recyclable at all. Choosing brown paper instead of laminated shiny wrapping paper is a very simple yet very effective switch. Brown paper is cheaper, looks beautiful and is recyclable. Also, this Christmas (with the exception of my grandparents) I’m not purchasing any traditional Christmas cards. Not only do these become extremely expensive when purchasing for extended family, most cannot be recycled (or reused) and therefor after a couple of weeks of being pinned to the wall, end up in landfill. This year I will be using paperless post to send greetings cards to my friends and family. Paperless post cards are fully customise-able and therefore not only are you creating something zero waste, but totally bespoke for your loved ones.
Similarly, for years Christmas crackers have come with a throwaway plastic toy. But, you don’t need to sacrifice this tradition for the good of the planet – Nancy and Betty do the most beautiful, sustainable Christmas Crackers, filled with treats you actually want. Inevitably more expensive than your local supermarket, but you are supporting a small business and getting a real treat in doing so. Plus, these will look exceptional on any Christmas table.
Finally, whilst I am a firm believer in not waiting until January 1st to start new healthy habits, its a great time to start putting a plan into place to live a more thoughtful and sustainable 2020. Take some time to consider what matters to you and how you can implement this into the new decade. But most importantly, have a very merry Christmas and a fantastic new year!