If you have found this blog post, I assume you too are trying to reduce your impact on the planet? Trying to tread the line between being a conscious consumer, not overspending more on ‘green wash’ products and still creating some festive cheer is not easy. Christmas for many of us is about excess – often to the point of hammering credit cards to pay for it.
Lets be honest, if we are going to be able to play a part in reducing waste and getting our planet back on track we need to change the way we consume. And quickly. We have to start changing our mindset towards consumerism and learn to live with less.
This year, let’s take a stand. Let’s make giving less the new giving more. So, with that in mind. Let’s start the ball rolling with 11 easy changes you can make to reduce your impact on the planet.
- Forget fancy wrapping paper. Rustic and recyclable is so 2019. My absolute favourite wrapping paper is brown parcel paper, sealed using pritt stick if you are feeling angelical and decorated with twine. To make your presents look pretty, add a sprig of holly, sprig of rosemary, a decorative leaf or a dried slice of orange. To make the dried orange slices, simply slice oranges, place on a baking tray and dry on top of a radiator for a few days or in a very low oven for 3-4 hours.
- Consider not sending cards – and if you must, make sure they are fully recyclable. I announced a few years back that we would not be sending cards anymore (with the exception of 90 year old Nan and our daughters Grandparents as I know the cards from their only grand daughter would be missed) As long as people are aware that they haven’t just been left off your list, I have found they really don’t mind. Instead of sending a card to friends and relatives that live a distance away we took the opportunity to have a catch up on the phone. Local friends and family will be seen over the festive season to pass on our love and season greetings.
- Have a vegan main – or even just reduce the quantity of meat. This is a slightly controversial one. Evidence is stacking up to say it is absolutely essential for the environment that we reduce our meat consumption – I will chat about that in more depth in a separate post. Prior to going vegan, the thought of the Christmas feast without meat as the centrepiece just seemed wrong. But actually, the vegan mains are often more decadent as it has to be made from scratch. Now, all the major supermarkets have fantastic vegan mains for Christmas and there is a plethora of recipes available for those who want to make their own. I will be posting some fantastic Christmas mains throughout early December so keep your eyes peeled! But, even if you don’t want to go the whole hog (pun alert!) please do consider having some meat free meals over the festive break. Or, if that seems to much even making some simple swaps to your Christmas shop such as duck spring rolls for vegetable spring rolls, meat feast pizza for vegetable pizza, dairy chocolate for dark chocolate.
- Buy second hand gifts. Charity shops are a treasure trove at this time of year as everyone is clearing out last years junk to replace it with this years! Make use of that. This year I have purchased books, vintage kitchen finds, scarves to form part of the present and act as wrapping and games from charity shops to gift. Ebay, Schpock, gumtree, freecycle and facebook selling groups are also fantastic for gifts.
- Use your old tree if you have one, buy a used artificial one or rent a real one if you don’t. The debate on whether it is more eco friendly to buy a real tree or reuse a plastic one rages on. Personally, I don’t think there is a right answer. If you already have a tree -make use of it. If you don’t – source a second hand one if you want an artificial tree or rent a potted tree if that is a service offered locally. Or buy a potted one that can, if you are green fingered, be used for years to come.
- Plan your menu. The shops are closed for just one day. One. Not fourteen like they used to be. If like me, you don’t relish the thought of food shopping for a few days after Christmas then there is the temptation to cater for every single possible consequence. Resist, strong one, resist! Take an hour with a glass of mulled wine in hand to write a plan. I temd to plan menus/casual meals for the dates I know we have visitors, factor in days I know we are out, then add a reasonable amount of treats and easy meals.
- Think quality, not quantity. Do not be tempted to bump up present piles. The last minute ‘Have I bought enough?’ is a reality when you start cutting back but most children have bedrooms rammed full of too much stuff. And most people have houses filled with too much stuff. So, after the excitement of unwrapping the new gifts it immediately just becomes more ‘stuff’ to house. One good quality gift is worth five cheaper ones anyway!
- Pay it forward. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds, especially at this busy time of year, but taking time to do something for people/animals less fortunate really puts our own problems in perspective. It also creates a ripple effect and who doesn’t need a wave of kindness? This year, I have started adding the odd treat to my shops – a jar of coffee here, jar of jam there. I will take them all to our local food bank towards the end of December. We live in a small, rural village and we have a foodbank here! That really brings it home to me how hard so many people are finding it to make ends meet.
- Give a plant. What better gift for that hard to buy for person? Plants are absolutely fantastic. There is one for every single person. The person into hollistic therapies?Aloe vera. The quirky person? Cactus. The cook? An indoor herb garden. The insomniac? Lavender. The romantic? An indoor rose. The one with asthma or allergies? A snake plant. The eco warrior? Any plant.
- Give experiences. Some of my favourite gifts have been experiences. These don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.
- Candlelight is the best Christmas lighting – just not on the tree! I love a sparkly fairy light as much as the next Christmas fiend. I even walk around singing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” every time I turn them on. But the delicate twinkle of the tree is one thing, the crazy grotto of lights you see some places is another. Electricity is expensive & the excessive lights are arguably a bit naff and definitely wasteful. This year I will be practising being a little more ‘hygge’ for absolute sure.