Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I can live a more sustainable life and lower my environmental footprint, but with Christmas around the corner I decided to look into some simple ways to be a little greener over the festive period:
1 – Gift Lists
For the past few years, I’ve tended to draw up a gift list to circulate amongst family detailing the things I would like or need as a Christmas gift. True, it means that generally, gifts aren’t a surprise (although with fibro fog, I often forget what’s on the list in the first place) but and my husband and I do buy each other a couple of token gifts outside of the list too. But by and large, I don’t end up with random stuff that I don’t like, want or need.
2 – Alternative Giving
A few years back, my circle of friends agreed that we would stop buying each other gifts at Christmas time as we felt we were just buying for the sake of it. We decided that we would each choose a charity every Christmas and donate instead – cutting down on waste as well as benefiting the charities.
Nowadays, it’s also really easy to shop for environmentally conscious gifts as well as second-hand items even when you’re searching for something specific like a certain book or item of clothing so that could be an option too and all helps towards living more sustainably.
Re-gifting is also an option if you have received something that you don’t like or cannot use in previous years. This should be done with care to avoid any offence though, remembering who gave you the gift in the first place before deciding to re-gift it to save any embarrassing situations!
3 – Planning Meals
I usually end up buying way too much food over the festive period and inevitably some of it ends up in the bin as it reaches its use by date or goes off before I have a chance to use it. According to Friends of the Earth, one third of food intended for human consumption is wasted. Taking into consideration the resources (water, land, labour etc) to produce this amount of food, if it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases on a worldwide level1.
It may sound really dull but this year, I am planning out all of my meals over the festive period, what we’ll eat and who will be there for each meal. That way, I can buy just the right amount of food and hopefully nothing will end up wasted.
Year round, I also find that cooking in bulk on good days and freezing meals such as curries, soups and chilli, which are also great for using up surplus fresh vegetables, means that there’s usually something quick and healthy in the freezer for those days when I’m just not able to cook due to high pain levels and/or fatigue.
4 – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Cards and wrapping paper often end up getting thrown away after Christmas. Glittery or metallic card generally can’t be recycled and will end up just being thrown away. But there are things we can do to reduce this waste including making use of reusable bags or cloth wrap or even pages of magazines to wrap gifts along with ribbon to decorate, which can be kept and reused year after year.
Christmas cards can be cut up and card embellishments retained and used to make gift tags or even to make more Christmas cards for future years.
Also be sure to recycle as much as you can, not just at Christmas!
5 – Decorations
If you’re buying new decorations, try to ensure they’re timeless ones which you can use year upon year rather than “on-trend” ones which can quickly fall out of favour. It’s also possible to make beautiful natural decorations with holly, ivy, pine cones or other natural items from your garden.
Old baubles and other decorations which may no longer be needed on your Christmas tree could be used to decorate outdoor trees or houseplants instead or even repurposed to make table decorations or simply put in a glass vase with some fairy lights for a Christmassy display.
All of these ideas are very simple but I hope there might be something here that you might like to try this festive season.
Many thanks for reading and I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.