This year I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my environmental footprint as I prepare for the festive season. After a little research, and a little creative thinking, I’ve come up with a few ideas that will help me, and maybe you, have a Christmas that won’t cost the earth.
Real or no real? If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, and the amount of plastic you contribute to the environment, real is the best way to go. A 2m artificial tree has the carbon footprint equivalent to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s 10 times more than a real tree that ends it’s life burnt, chipped or planted in the garden – so you’d need to use your artificial tree for over 10 years for it to be more environmentally friendly. Your best bet is to get one in a pot which can be planted in the garden and brought out year after year to save money too.
Look for natural materials to create decorations with, or shop with local crafters who create decorations using naturally occurring materials. Avoid tinsel, glitter, artificial snow, any plastic decorations or decorations that come packaged in a tonne of plastic. There’s a wealth of local craft markets on at this time of year to find something special, or if you’ve got an extra bit of time, take a look at Pinterest for some craft inspiration! Glitter is an important part of Christmas, so take a look at Eco Stardust for a biodegradable version!
As an easy rule of thumb, simply avoid plastic presents. There are plenty of options, such as books, card games, foods, clothes and much more which won’t hurt your pocket. Or get creative! There are quick and easy tutorials all over the internet for gifts to make in an afternoon, or take more time and put some of your artistic skills into a craft project. Gifts don’t have to come shrink wrapped for them to be special!
Again, as with the gifts, try and avoid foods wrapped in plastic. Some top tips to avoid plastic when shopping are to buy bulk (to at least reduce the amount of plastic you’re using), try making more of your favourite treats rather than relying on prepackaged convenience foods, and buying your meat (if you’re that way inclined), fruit, veg and essential supplies loose from a market or greengrocer. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you make an effort, you can certainly make a difference. Don’t forget, only buy what you need!
Wrapping and cards
It is beyond annoying that wrapping paper and cards from shops often come in plastic. A way of avoiding this is to buy from local crafters and makers, or to look at alternative ways of wrapping. I love these alternative ways of wrapping presents, particularly using fabric to wrap as you would with paper, and reusable fabric gift bags – this is definitely something I’m looking to try this year!
Reduce, reuse, recycle
When you think about that little phrase, it makes all the above a lot easier. And at the end of it all, make sure you sort all your recycling properly to avoid recyclable goods going to landfill. If you’ve got plastic decorations already that you bring out year after year, keep using them! Just don’t throw them out to buy even more plastic decorations.
So there’s a few starter points for me. I’ll probably do a follow up post here after Christmas to see how I did, I already know I’ve slipped up (I bought a roll of wrapping paper without even thinking!). But no one’s perfect, and as long as we have the end goal of reducing our plastic waste, we will make a difference.