A very sustainable Christmas

2020 has, to say the least, been full of ups and downs. However, one positive to come of 2020 is an increased awareness of how our choices affect our planet. Now, more than ever, consumers are conscious of what they buy, what they eat and where it all comes from – which is an incredible achievement! 

Christmas has become a time for generosity and over-indulgence. Of course, we all deserve to be spoiled at least once a year, especially as this year has been particularly hard. However, even for the environmentally conscious among us, celebration through excess and extravagance presents many challenges. If sustainability is on your mind this year you may be left wondering: how can we celebrate Christmas sustainably and end this strange year on a positive note? 

Fortunately, there are lots of ways we can make our festivities more sustainable, and they aren’t too difficult. One tactic that has already proved popular recently has been to use brown parcel paper and string to wrap gifts: it contains no plastic, and is still so beautiful! You can add a sprig of holly or create prints to keep them looking wonderfully aesthetic under the tree. Some people have also given past gifts in scarves or pieces of cloth which can be used again or donated to charity. Even if they aren’t reused, they are a lot kinder to the planet when thrown away than plastic wrapping paper. 

Now we come to what’s inside the paper! If you want to steer clear of gifts this year that are likely to be thrown away, you have so many options: why not pay to give someone an experience rather than an object? Or give someone something they can keep for a long time such as a plant or reusable coffee cups? If you’re crafty, homemade baking or a piece of art can make lovely gifts that really show that you care. To reduce general gift-buying, giving secret Santa gifts instead of buying a gift for everyone you know can also really help. 

For the rest of the day (and festive period) what you can do is perhaps more obvious. We should all try to only buy the food we will eat, or at least make sure we use up all of our leftovers. Choosing a real tree has many benefits and is generally less harmful than plastic ones when it comes to how they are disposed of. The same principle applies to choosing natural ornaments when decorating the house, such as sprigs of holly. 

Hopefully, this advice has been helpful and has perhaps inspired your own sustainably festive ideas. It is important to note, however, that while we can do our part to help reduce our personal impact on the planet, this responsibility cannot be ours alone. It is imperative that those who contribute the most to waste (we’re looking at you, big companies with unsustainable practices) cut down on their impact on the planet. Without their help, we can only do so much.

Above all, remember that small efforts add up to a big impact. Don’t think that you should spend Christmas anxiety-ridden that your wrapping paper might be thrown out, or that your family might have to throw food away. The important thing is to have an awareness of our impact on the planet, and to make small changes where we can. Lots of people making some change has a much bigger impact than a few people practicing perfect sustainability. So please remember that even just by celebrating consciously, you’re already doing a fantastic job. Enjoy your holidays! 

Elsie Haldane

Image source: https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5a2afd61190000422c035581.jpg?ops=scalefit_820_noupscale

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