Here in the UK, Christmas isn't quite going to be what any of us want because of Covid. The lack offestivities is weird: no Christmas markets, no work parties, no last minute shopping with my sister, no light displays, no big family gatherings. So it feels a little odd to sit down and write a festive post when I'm not quite feeling the same vibes I normally would do. However, over the last couple of years I've really started to focus on thinking in more detail about the impact my Christmas traditions and presents etc are having on the planet.
So, here are 10 small things to switch up around Christmas time to help make the season more sustainable in your home:
1.) Avoid wrapping paper that's glittery, foil or too plastic-y. The general rule is that if you scrunch it and it stays scrunched you can recycle it, and if not then you can't. The easiest (and sometimes prettiest) option to make sure of this is to go with brown paper. There are reams of Pinterest posts out there on how to jazz up this wrapping paper to make it a bit more interesting if you don't want presents to look too plain.
2.) On a similar note, use paper tape on everything. Wrapping paper can't be recycled when you have plastic tape on it. I purchased mine on Etsy here.
3.) Avoid disposable tableware. Washing up around Christmas seems ENDLESS and the options for disposable plates, cups, napkins etc are all so cute. This year I've bought cloth napkins from Tiger (for £1 each as a slightly cheaper option in comparison to some things), and we'll be bringing them out year on year in future. The lack of plates etc that we own won't be an issue with Covid limitations this year either, so we'll be avoiding that too, and just keeping up with relentless washing up with limited guests.
4.) Don't buy a new Christmas day outfit. This is something I'm totally guilty of every year usually, but every outfit is something I end up rarely wearing. This year I'm going with an older outfit or buying something second hand from a charity shop. Seeing as I'm not leaving the house and it's just my boyfriend and me, I might even just have a Christmas PJs day.
5.) Look at buying gifts from independent stores. Big companies like the one with fast delivery that I won't name really are something we should push to try and avoid. Lots of independent stores do things like giving back to charities, Etsy carbon offsets the delivery on all of their sales, and you're more likely to find eco-conscious gifts.
6.) Think about how much plastic is going into the presents you buy. This is something that's hard to do on a budget, but if you can, then look at what kind of packaging your gift is coming in, and whether there's a better option.
7.) Look at gifts that will benefit the planet. There's always someone you know that has everything they want, and your present is only going to end up in a charity shop or on landfill (as harsh as it sounds). There are so many great charities not only selling Christmas gifts that help put money into the charity, but also things like animal adoptions, protecting an acre of rainforest, and other ecological gifts mean your money is well spent and your family member doesn't end up with another gift they don't want.
8.) Don't overstock on food. With everyone adjusting to smaller Christmas parties this year, there's going to be even more food waste than normal unless we all really consider exactly what we need to buy. Christmas is a time for indulgence, and leftovers are great, but only as long as they actually get used. I'm a sucker for this, and this year I'm going to try and loosely 'meal plan' to cut back on what we might not use.
9.) Cut out Christmas cards to make tags for next year. This saves money on buying tags, is something to do whilst watching endless TV in that in-between period, and means that not as much is going to recycling centres. There are also a few charities that want used Christmas cards after the festive season.
10.) Avoid Christmas crackers. It's cute to have little Christmas hats around the dinner table, and tell jokes for a minute or two, but crackers just all end up in the bin. The foil on the cardboard means they can't really be recycled, the gifts are all plastic and no one keeps them, and the hats end up shredded within the day. We have some that we get out every year, pop on the tree and put back in a box for next year again in January and if I'm honest? I don't really miss them.
What are you switching up this Christmas to make your celebrations more sustainable?