Christmas is coming, and we still have presents to wrap, cards to send, and dinners to plan. How can we keep our traditions alive with less impact as possible to protect our planet?
Each year for Christmas alone, we produce 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper that will be thrown out. (25,000 tonnes of plastic packaging). While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons.
This does not mean we do not have to enjoy the fabulous festive season. Still, a few changes in our usual habits can make a huge difference in reducing our footprint in our environment. Here are a few suggestions for Crunchy women who want to enjoy the festive season while taking care of the planet.
Send eco-friendly e-cards
Not all Christmas cards are recyclable when disposed of in the bin; some contain glitter or plastic. A study conducted by Exeter University estimates that the embodied carbon footprint in a typical greetings card is 140g CO2e. This figure is based upon a 10g letter, printed upon recycled paper, posted and recycled within the UK. Considering that a card printed on non-recycled paper is posted within the USA, the excess carbon footprint could be more than 200g3.
Why not arrange a video call or phone call instead? Is more personal and it is an excellent way to spend the evening differently, rather than our usual Instagram scrolling or Netflix watching.
Christmas means magic, so let us deliver a personalised e-message from Santa. Portable North Pole is an online platform where Santa and his elves use to send personalised video messages and calls to the people you care about it can be sent worldwide, and you can choose between different themes and situations. It is also a pleasant memory, and you can even download an HD version of your video to keep it for years to come.
With DontsendmeACard.com, you can also send an e-card, and at the same time, you donate the cost of the stamp and card to a charity organisation you care about. You would pay for those anyway.
Use creativity to wrap presents
Creativity can be a new and personalised idea to wrap presents. For example, for a friend who loves vintage so much, the brown, fully recycled paper gives that old-fashioned touch; we love it. You can add some festive decorations, such as dried oranges, which smell fantastic, colourful ribbons, or add some forage for decorations. If you like it, you can also use old newspapers for someone who loves reading and then embellish with ribbons, gold twine, fresh rosemary and holly.
Do you prefer patterns and colours? The Green Field Paper Company created ‘Holiday Collection‘ 100% recycled wrapping paper, containing no chemicals or dyes and made in the USA.
Are you good at sewing? Why not make lovely presents bags? Different shapes and colours under your tree, don’t they look fabulous? You can reutilise them next year or keep them as PJs or make-up bags. The most important is to use scrap or sustainable cotton material, let your fantasy fly.
Also, do not throw out parcel boxes, or shoe boxes, line them up with some fabric or paint them. There are so many YouTube tutorials that you can get inspiration for. But remember to recycle and to use eco-friendly materials only, such as vegetable glitters and environmentally friendly glue.
Reuse your Christmas tree
A study carried out by the American Christmas Tree Association shows that artificial Christmas trees are the better environmental choice if reused for five years. If yours is stored well, it can be used for an average of ten years, which is probably the most encouraging behaviour from a consumer point of view.
Ok, we know many of you like to have a real one; the smell, the experience of picking your Christmas tree, and that’s fine, but make sure to replant it after the festive season or to use it as compost.
Alternatively, look for more trendy options such as holly trees with berries in copper pots to give your kitchen table or desk a festive look or a Pinus Silver Crest in a pot, a mini tree you can always put in your garden or balcony after the festive holidays. Also, a driftwood Christmas tree might be a great alternative if you like coastal style. You may collect pieces of driftwood during your walks at the beach and make a great one by yourself once at home, following one of those YouTube tutorials online. Alternatively, you can buy one on etsy.com. And in case you are more into minimalist style or short of space, why not consider a metal silhouette tree? All you have to do is just hang up your decorations. Hey, presto!
Use independent shops
Stick to your local independent shops; this allows the economy to grow in your area, and you can find original items not found elsewhere. Consider it a chance to support marvellous local makers; most of their beautiful creations are green-sourced. Many independents in December implement ‘Christmas late-night shopping‘ to satisfy your shopping needs. They also offer special discounts.
And how about Christmas Markets? COVID restrictions permitted, they are always truly magical at this time of the year. They give you a tremendous food experience by engaging the senses; in different shapes, colours, movements, and textures while wandering between stalls, smelling fantastic food, and enjoying music. Food lovers will be greeted with fresh, sustainable-caught fish; free-range meat from local farmers, artisan dairy products and delicatessen. Expect handmade craft beer, wines and spirits from the country’s finest producers, too. Also, you can find handmade soaps and eye-catching jewellery, perfect for picking up unique gifts and buying fresh products for a perfect Christmas dinner.
Reduce your food waste
Buy food consciously this Christmas. According to the UK Government Statistical Service, every year, 7 million tonnes of food is wasted during the holiday season in the UK.
“Crunching” the numbers: 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pies get disposed of while still edible, causing almost 270,000 tons of food waste in total during the holiday.
Let us get creative with leftovers. Again, there are plenty of recipes on social media and YouTube channels. Freeze unused food, and consume it on another occasion. Ask your guests to take an extra portion at home; we all have a student niece/nephew who will be more than happy to take away family food.
In the end, the true meaning of Christmas is staying with your loved ones. So, slow down, relax and be sensible.