Tiz the season to be jolly, far-la-la-la-laaaa-la-lar-de-dar. Sing along if you know the song… Yep, it is here. The season of wonder and magic. My absolute favourite time of the year. I just adore Christmas and (almost) all that comes with it. But did you know that it is also hands down, the most wasteful time of the year? In the UK alone, it is estimated that our household waste goes up by 30%. So, I am hoping to give you a little inspiration. Not only on sustainable gifts, but also on how to have a bit more of a sustainable Christmas all round. We absolutely deserve to live it up and enjoy, but a little more mindfully. Sound like a plan? Then read on my fellow Christmas lovers..read on.
My Sustainable gift guide with a difference!
This time of year, I usually give you a sustainable gift guide. But this year, it has been a whole new level of wtf right? This year, the year of Corona, has been incredibly challenging for so many. Loss of jobs (mine included), money stresses, a whole shed load of uncertainty. It felt a little weird to do my usual bumper eco gift guide.
So, I decided that my sustainable Christmas guide would be different this year. I thought I would cover Christmas as a whole, with a little of my Sustainable Gift guide thrown in. Hopefully there will be some inspiration in there for you. Remember what I have told you for the last 4 years?? ANY change that you make in the right direction for our planet, is a positive.
You can see the last few years guides though. I have listed them below for you.
What is a Sustainable Christmas?
As many of my fellow eco warriors know, the best way to be sustainable, is to not buy more stuff. Use what you have! So, I encourage you fully to do that. Use what you have as much as possible. It makes absolutely no sense to go out and buy lots of new “eco stuff” if what you have does the job. I know it is tempting as you are enthusiastic about your eco journey. I get it. But….That is the opposite of sustainability! The idea is to buy less and reduce what we waste. So, I implore you to look at and utilise what you have, first and foremost. Obviously, we have to buy things, that is life. But just be more conscious about wether you actually need it or not.
Shopping locally, supporting your local trade and avoiding the HUGE, walking-on-the-unethical-side companies is also much more sustainable. I 100% know that cost can come into where we buy, so of course, it is only a nudge in that direction if you are able too.
Sustainable Gifts – A few ideas
As my tradition is providing ideas of gifts for eco warriors, let’s start here. Again, in the year-that-is-not-the-same, neither is the way I am doing this. I am simply sharing some of my favourite sustainable brands, (rather than specific items) and finds with you. Pointing you in the right direction so to speak…
Sustainable book Gifts
Books are my weakness. despite knowing that online reading is more sustainable in many ways, I can not give up my proper book. So, I have found ways to make my habit more eco friendly. Here are some ideas for you;
World Of Books – An online secondhand bookshop. They have won accolades for their company sustainability efforts. They recycle over 4 million books every month!
Bookshop.Org – This is such a great find. It is a website that supports your local independant bookshops. As we know, shopping local is a great way to be more sustainable. I have used these lots during the pandemic when bookshops were closed.
Charity shops – Second hand is always good. I made up a “box of books” for my friend last year. I bought 5 books from my local charity shop, and put them in an old shoe box I covered and decorated.
If you would like any book inspiration, this book obsessive has you covered. There is tons of suggested reads under the Book and Reading section of my blog.
Eco Friendly Gift ideas for self care
My bathroom has been an almost totally eco friendly zone for 3 years now. I have changed my pamper products, deodorant, period wear and even my loo roll. So, I am sharing some of my favourite sustainable brands that have pamper-age sewn up!
Wearth London – one of my absolute favourite places for ethical and sustainable products. I LOVE them and have shopped with them about 3 years. They have fabulous gift ideas, or you could make your own pamper box up. I made a friend an eco friendly kitchen starter box up when she moved earlier this year.
Floral Street – This company has fantastic ethos in both sustainability and ethics. They produce the most beautiful, vegan and cruelty perfumes. That is something that is hard to find in the perfume industry. I switched to Penhalligans perfume for exactly this reason. Floral street takes sustainability seriously, and I love them. Their fragrance Christmas Crackers are beautiful.
Peace with the Wild – Another favourite go to of mine. They are a one stop shop for all things ethical and eco friendly. I have my eye on this sustainable macrame plant hanger. I am the proud plant mumma to no less than 5 house plants that I have kept alive for over a year now….go me!
Home Made Eco Friendly gift ideas
In lockdown, I have become someone that makes stuff. My friends and family literally think I have had a personality transplant. I am not a maker of stuff. I have always thought that “crafting” was for creative, clever types. But here I am, making stuff! I think it is a beautiful thing to take the time to make something for someone you love. The following ideas are simple, but lovely.
Pumpkin Spiced Latte Syrup – I learnt to make this from the gorgeous Neha from Mostly Food and Travel blog. I think this would make a delicious home made gift. Once made, pour into an empty maple syrup jar or similar, pop a ribbon round and voila! A pretty pumpkin syrup that will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You could even make a Gingerbread syrup if your prefer. I used this recipe.
A Time for Tea box – Fill a used box with a little tea break for one. A secondhand book, loose tea in an empty jar, and maybe even a charity shop tea strainer, cup and saucer and tea spoon. You could even pop in a card with 3 sentimental reasons why you feel the person should give themselves a little break.
A “You are” jar – I made my Mum one of these a couple of years ago. To start, you’ll need a pretty lidded jar (mine was a charity shop find). Then, write out 52 (for 52 weeks) little messages, quotes, sentiments on a strips of coloured paper. They should all be how you think and feel about the person. So for example, “you are…..the kindest person I know”. Then fold them all up and put them in the jar. The idea is that they take one out each week, to give them a little boost.
Gift of Memory Making
My absolute favourite kind of gift. This is always my first choice both to give, and receive. It is also a sustainable gift as it won’t end up in landfill! The year has been challenging too, so giving someone something to look forward to after Christmas is a bonus!
Keep it Local – If you are looking for foodie gifts, how about a voucher to the person receiving it, for their favourite local restaurant. If you have home lover or flower lovers to buy for, they may love to learn hw to make seasonal wreaths. Lots of local florists now offer workshops. Try to utilise your local businesses if able to.
Annual memberships – If you have been with me a while on the blog, you know my love of annual memberships. We have a National Trust, Royal Historical Palaces and an English Heritage pass. All have a discount for annual membership on them at the moment. We use them LOADS and I love having them. It is a great way to encourage people to get out and about.You are also supporting important places in the UK.
Gift a Sustainable experience – These experiences on Virgin Experiences all have a sustainable element to them. I really like the look of the Vegan cooking class!
Tips for a more Sustainable Christmas
Let’s now move on to Christmas itself. I will say again, the best way to be sustainable is to use what you have. As much as we love the over indulgence of Christmas, it’s brutal in term of waste. Just one example, in the UK we throw away 277,000 MILES of wrapping paper alone! Crazy eh! Much of it goes straight to landfill as so much cannot be recycled. Papers with glitter, foil, plastic backed etc are the main culprits! Here are a few tips that might help your Christmas be a little lower waste.
- Look for recyclable cards and paper. Or even fabric wrapping. Lot’s of your favourite charities offer eco friendly wrapping paper too. It is worth checking them out. Some companies that do beautiful items are Ecovibe.co.uk, RSPB Shop, WWF, I also love these reusable fabric wraps.
- Go plastic free as much as possible with what you purchase.
- Nik and I only send cards to immediate family since Nik’s Mum lost her battle with cancer. We donate to a local cancer charity instead. It is more sustainable too!
- Shop with a list. Think of your food shopping. What do you really need? Not just in case, but actually need? Write a list and buy that only.
- Look for locally made gifts and items. Buy from your farmers shops etc. Support local.
- Think about what you serve. There are so many sustainable options when it comes to food and drink. For example, Sea Change sustainable wine is making huge differences to our ocean pollution.
- Resist the temptation to change your Christmas tree colour scheme every year. Use what you have, it will look beautiful.
- Six million Christmas trees are cut down, used, then thrown out each year. Not having a real tree is the most sustainable option. But, if you do go for real, make sure it gets recycled, buy one in a pot to have in your garden or buy from sustainable sources.
- look for recycled and recyclable Christmas crackers. There is not much in a traditional one that can get recycled. Lot’s of charities have eco friendly Christmas crackers too. So you are giving them valuable funds too!
- Try to give gifts that do not need batteries. It is estimated that 40% of battery sales happen at Christmas. Discarded batteries are a huge problem on the environment.
- Hand made decorations look beautiful on Christmas trees. Salt dough tree decs look beautiful and we still have some our kids made 14 years ago!
Conclusion to my eco Christmas tips;
I hope this whistle stop tip fest has been useful. It is a subject I could talk about all day, but I wanted to keep it brief-ish! I am not saying for one minute it is easy to have a low waste Christmas. It is a multi layered, multi faceted issue. Budget, availability, tradition, what shops sell, all comes into play! But, if we all try to do a little better, it adds up. I know I am like a broken record, but any positive change is change. Buy less, be more conscious of what you buy, and try to choose a more eco friendly option. Other than that, eat, drink and be merry. We all flipping deserve it this year!!!!!