Let me ask you a question. And if you can answer it truthfully, without hesitation, you can carry on purchasing cashmere wristbands for Auntie Amanda.
What did you get for Christmas last year?
I can remember one thing. It was a lavender pillow spray. That’s all I remember. I received a sack full of stuff and God knows what it was or where I’ve put it, but if it hasn’t changed or impacted my life in a year, it was obviously pretty useless.
For me, Christmas hasn’t brought elation since I stopped believing in the fat guy. Since then, it’s been about falsified happiness, greed and pointless presents. When asked if I get excited about Christmas, I’ll usually say no. It fills me with dread and sadness when I think about the amount of waste going into the world. It is a holiday that has lost its true meaning of togetherness and loving and instead perpetuates needless consumerism and our obsession with materialism.
If you’re getting ready to throw your best Scrooge insults at me, it’s because you know I’m right. I hate to say it, but I’m just over here being my usual realist self. Maybe it’s sucking the fun out of the fun of Christmas, but in tumultuous environmental times such as these, and as the UK prepares to produce 30% more waste than at any other time during the year, maybe we could all stand to get a bit more real about the season of ‘joy’.
The truth is, we need to start consuming less. For the sake of the planet, the holiday and our sanity. It’s been proven that owning less makes us happier by giving us more freedom, less life clutter and more room to live.
I can’t make you change. You have to want to. And it’s been so refreshing to see more people, influencers and authoritative figures encouraging us to shop consciously and to stop justifying the value our relationships and self-being on excessive objects.
So, what can you do about it?
Having a greener Christmas doesn’t have to involve scrapping all of the traditions and gifting each other clementines. Like anything sustainable, all it takes is a bit of a mental mind shift. There are so many ways to have a more conscious Christmas that won’t cost the earth or your yuletide cheer. Here are some ideas:
Gift your friends and family experiences over objects
Ask before you buy
Ask yourself the below questions before you buy presents for anyone:
- Will they use this?
- Do they really need it?
- How long will they use it for?
If you can’t answer any of these reasonably, then you should reconsider the gift. This will not only show them that you’ve really thought about their needs and interests, but will serve the world.
Think about your own list
This year, I’ve thought long and hard about what I actually need, what I might want and then sought to source it from sustainable places. If shopping sustainably seems expensive, which it often is, this is the perfect time to cross some things off that you’ve had your eyes on for a while! So far, my sustainable Christmas gift list includes:
All eco-friendly, all lovely little prezzies and all things that I’ll use for over a year, if not 10 years. I’ve told everyone not to buy me anything else and I’ll take it personally if they do as it’s not respecting my wishes. Instead, we’ll use the money to take each other out and spend time together BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT.
Have a veggie Christmas dinner
Over 2million turkeys are killed around this time and as I’ve said before, reducing your meat intake is the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint. Sites like BBC good food have tons of ideas and Waitrose has some absolute mouth-waterers.
Recycle your cards
Over 1 billion Christmas cards get binned each year when they could be recycled. This website has some great ideas.
Compost your tree
There are often shocking images of trees that have been discarded on the street for the bin men to pick up and haul about. Make the time and effort to drop your tree off (if it’s fresh, obviously) to your local compost centre or compost it yourself.
Gifts, dinner, the lot. Opt for food that’s not in tons of packaging and instead hit your local farmers market for a plastic-free shop. Use resources from around the house to make something from the heart and get crafty making homemade gifts.
Save it all
Salvage any wrapping paper, ribbons and bows you can to use again next year.
Wrap it right
Wrap presents in stuff you’ve already got or recyclable paper. Most people don’t know that wrapping paper with any decoration, like glitter, plastics or dye cannot be recycled.
Rebalance your footprint
If you have to buy some things new, give back by planting a tree, doing charity work and turning off the Christmas lights. Laz and Saz are doing Share a Shoebox this year, with any donations going to Women for Refugee Women. Giving back to the earth and your community not only fills your heart, but it rebalances the footprint caused when buying anything new.
Avoid batteries and plastic
You’ve probably already worked this one out.
Sustainability advocates, like Venetia Falconer, inspire me daily to be more eco-friendly with daily swaps that you can slowly introduce into your life. Becoming sustainable doesn’t have to become one big, massive change. It’s like exercising, the more we practice, the easier it becomes.
I think everyone would be surprised by how much more meaningful and just as magical this time of year could be if we stepped back from the crap and focused on what’s important. Till then, I’ll be over here dreaming of a greener Christmas.