Christmas is traditionally the time of year when spending and consumerism hits a peak and many of us forget our good intentions to buy less and put less strain on the planet’s resources. Not to mention our purses. And I’ll admit, I’m as guilty as the next person. For the next two months we’ll all be spending far too much on outfits, gifts, food and decorations. Probably more than we can afford to. But maybe the time has come to start thinking about a more sustainable Christmas? I’m not turning into Scrooge (honest), but there are a few small things that we could do that might make a big difference.
Just Buy Less!
I might be stating the obvious here but do we really need to buy new decorations for the house every year? Our mother’s were proud to collect one new ornament a year for the tree and bring them out over and over again for decades. Unpacking those tiny memories each year was a highlight of Christmas and the tree was always a talking point. We can also take a few lessons from the Scandinavians who have a much more nature inspired approach to decorating the house. They tend to use winter foliage, pine cones and everygreen branches to make the fireplace and centre of the table look special. Not only does all that greenery look amazing but it smells pretty good too.
If you are going for a real tree just make sure it has a FSC certification which means it has been sourced responsibly. And dispose of it responsibly too. When buying an artificial tree it makes sense to buy a good quality one that will last for years, rather than one that will end up in landfill at the end of the holidays.
There’s always going to be someone who goes completely overboard with the outside lights at this time of the year. Just don’t. Reducing the size of outdoor displays can really help the planet and the size of your bills too. Use LED lights for the tree and indoor displays, and always make sure to turn them off when you go to bed to save even more electricity.
This is a tough one. How do you buy less, when gifting is a family tradition that everyone loves but no one will admit has got a bit out of hand. I do know a few people who have started to adopt the ‘secret santa’ approach to gifting. Everyone buys one gift for one person. It doesn’t have to be secret but it can be decided who buys who, by putting names in a hat. With only one gift to buy, so much more thought can go into it, instead of trying to buy the perfect gift for absolutely everyone. This excludes loved ones, and children of course. Or why not make gifts? Not all presents have to be store bought. But if you do go to a shop why not buy local? Or buy from recycled sources?
Glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper is very tricky to recycle so try to avoid it if you can. Gifts wrapped in simple brown paper and then decorated with cones and greenery look amazing, are better for the planet and better for your purse. And when using sticky tape, use it sparingly. It makes gifts easier to unwrap and often means you can re-use the paper again. Win-win.
Now put on that party dress from last year (honestly, who’s going to notice) and have a good time.
All images are from the H & M Christmas 2019 campaign.