I love Christmas. I love the cosy nights, twinkling decorations, candles burning and snuggling into soft fabrics. I also love the planet and I want future generations to love it too. I love giving presents as much as receiving them, but this year I’ve made a pledge, and I hope you can join me. In this climate emergency, it’s high time we took a stand on Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the Grinch. In fact, I’m looking forward to Christmas more than ever. But I’m prioritising and streamlining. I’m creating new Christmas traditions with my children, teaching them to respect and love this planet, and instilling the joy of living lightly and sustainably.
Here are my 5 ways to avoid needless waste and become a Christmas Zen master in the process:
1. Buy less, and buy better
Resist the temptation coming at you from all angles to overdo it this Christmas. Here’s a little checklist of questions to ask before you buy:
‘Is this really necessary? Chances are, it’s not. Don’t buy out of guilt.
‘Is it useful?’
‘Will it last or will it end up in landfill?’
For example, I’m getting my foodie friends the best bottle of olive oil they can find, one that they would never buy themselves. And because I passionately love indulging in Christmas fragrance, I’ll take great Christmas joy in treating myself to one or two beautiful Irish hand-poured candles to create a seasonal ambient glow and natural fragrance. Check out The Bearded Candlemakers https://www.thebeardedcandlemakers.com/product-category/irish-collection/ for some really unusual ones.
2. Ditch the wrapping paper
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste this Christmas; and it’s time to get your Christmas creative juices flowing! I promise you, there are endless sources of Christmas wrapping paper already in your home. Use cloth bags, brown paper, or newspaper wrapped in old bits of ribbon, twine or washi tape. Decorate with nature; add a flourish to your Christmas wrapping with winter greenery such as foraged sprigs of rosemary or berries. Cut out your Christmas tags from old cereal boxes. If you must use gift wrap, avoid glossy foil or metallic paper and sellotape, none of which are recyclable.
3. Make a list and check it twice
The incessant advertising, the pressure to present the perfect Christmas, it’s so unnecessary. Your health and well-being is what’s important here. Santa’s practice of list-making is one we should all learn from – he has Christmas nailed after all! Make a list of what you would like to do to celebrate the season, and here’s the important bit – stick to it! Don’t succumb to the pressure of it all.
4. Experiences rather than gifts
It may take a while for everyone to come on board, but trust me, they will thank you! As a family, we have agreed to cull the Christmas present buying this year. Instead of getting presents for nieces and nephews, my sister and I are bringing all the kids for a day out together at a Christmas funfair, while the grandparents are giving them tickets to football matches. The children are really happy and excited about this with no quibbles about not getting as many presents.
Check in with friends and family, they too may be feeling the pressure, and suggestions to connect with each other and the season may be just what they are looking for too!
5. Wage war on food waste
The food waste we produce at Christmas is nothing short of scandalous. Even the most well-intentioned of us can lose our way, or panic that we haven’t enough, so will get that ‘just in case’. Remember the shops are barely closed for Christmas before they are open again, so you are unlikely to ever have too little to go around. Use up the food that’s in your freezer now, to free up space for leftovers around Christmas time. Freeze your dinner leftovers in portions, use various leftovers for a Stephen’s Day Bubble and Squeak breakfast, or blitz up your leftover vegetables with some stock to create a hearty roast vegetable soup. Pre-planning on your food shopping reaps huge rewards, and you can contentedly pat yourself on the back for the time and effort you’ve saved.
The Ethical Silk Company was founded on ethical principles, (see the https://www.theethicalsilkco.com/about-us) for quality gifts to last a life time.
I’ll be back at Gifted, the RDS Christmas Fair from 4th - 8th December, it’s a fantastic opportunity to purchase from sustainable, ethical, Irish businesses, all under one roof.
Thanks for reading