Don’t we all love Christmas…Finally more time to spend with our families and loved ones, to unwind and reflect on all the hard work and accomplishments we got throughout the year…Christmas, however, is also a time of excess and high waste, which is obviously not good news for the environment, hence not really enchanting stuff for our children and their future. Did you know that in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, household waste increases by 25%? This figure alone to me is rather scary!
As a family we started to become more conscious about our own choices for the holidays, too, hence this year we came up with a few green strategies to save on clothing, improve food waste and go for anything that is more natural and sustainable as we want our children to watch and learn from a young age. Here are a few little projects we’ve been working on, while encouraging everyone around us to to the same and learning from the ones who have been doing a great job already.
Artificial Christmas trees
Just to put it into simple words, these should be a big no no on your festive list! I recently wrote an article on what’s happening behind the real trees industry as we have to be careful with our buying choice even when it comes to a simple Christmas tree. Aiming for a naturally grown or ideally organic tree should rank high on your festive priorities list. Unfortunately most artificial trees can’t be recycled and non organic real trees are covered in pesticides, insecticides and growing hormones inhibitors, you can learn more about this from Magic of Foresters, the only place in the UK where you can find the best and greenest trees, so natural, you can even eat them!! And you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that people do use them in roasts, tea, beer etc. There are other options as well, such as Christmas trees in a pot you can rent from a sustainable source. Pinterest is Full of ideas when it comes to diy Christmas tree projects too, made of things you can even find in your own home.
Because we are on the tree topic, let’s not forget the ornaments, not all of them can be recycled. Theres a lot of information on London Recycles about this topic, too. There’s a lot of information on London Recycles’ website, however to put it in a nutshell use the ones that can be reused, ideally made of recycled materials; buying preloved is also a pretty great idea, charity shops are full of lovely Christmas jumpers and decorations this time of the year. I went for a mix this year including investing in a few fabric ones. Decorating the Christmas tree usually means you’ll end up with some broken baubles. Sadly baubles (both plastic and glass ones) can’t be recycled yet, so put the pieces in your rubbish bins. Tinsel can’t be recycled, so if your tinsel’s seen better days, put it in your rubbish bin, not your recycling.
Let’s not forget our fairy loights! 500 tonnes of Fairy lights are thrown away in the UK each year. If your lights are done for, don’t chuck them in the bin; take them to your local reuse & recycling centre.
Always choose recycled & recyclable and don’t forget to avoid glitter! There are so many creative ones out there, I even heard of tree planting cards which I’m currently trying to source, the kids would love to plant one!! Did you know that Londoners use around 38,000 tonnes of paper and card at Christmas? This could wrap Big Ben more than 34,000 times, the Gherkin over 30,000 times and the London Eye over 6,500 times! Source (London Recycles). Glitter clogs up the equipment at recycling plants and stops the machinery from working. This means that thousands of tonnes of paper and cards are sent to landfill or incinerated over the festive season. One easy win is to choose recyclable paper and card! You can make some great looking vintage-style gifts and feel great knowing that you’re being kind to the enviormnent! Switch to reusable wrapping paper – collect wrapping paper, ribbon and anything decorative throughout the year to use at Christmas. Use kids art work from school to wrap up gifts, grandparents are huge fans 😉
A greener festive wardrobe
Reinvent your wardrobe and your old pieces by dyeing them instead. Give an old dress a second life like I did to these matching dresses from Son de Flor. For these red dresses below which used to be white, I used a Dylon pod, put it to the washing machine and job done! It’s that easy. Now we got ourselves these festive dresses.
Another research that I’ve done was about Christmas jumpers as it seems pretty trendy to buy a new Christmas jumper each year. Ditch the Christmas jumper – I mean ditch buying a new Christmas jumper, In the UK we’re likely to spend more than £300 million on Christmas jumpers this year. Our new research has revealed that over 10 million people are likely to buy a Christmas jumper, and 40% of those will wear them just once or twice over the festive season.
But less. Buy better.
I’m a firm believer that we can give more to our loved ones while spending less. I’m not here to preach about how to save a fortune on Christmas, we don’t all have the same financial means (although you might be saving a lot if becoming less of a consumer of things you don’t actually need, nor do all people around you). My favourite website when it comes to preloved kids fashion is KidsWearCollective. I even have a tiny capsule of my own if you click here, where you can find this gorgeous dress from lovely French designer Charlotte sy Dimby Amelie only wore a couple of times. You can use the exclusive code ALLMUMSTALK30 if you want to surprise someone with a little green gift (the code is valid until 15th of January 2020).
I had a high school collègue (Oana) who taught me a few great lessons which I didn’t see at the time. She got me a few unusual gifts (or that’s what I thought they were at the time): a jar full of camomille flowers she picked herself in the countryside, all nicely put inside a reusable jar with a pretty handwritten label. I found it so sweet and unusual as I said, it made me feel special although I didn’t realised it straightaway. However that wasn’t a wake up call until the following year when she baked Christmas biscuits she so nicely decorated herself, put them in pretty jars and sold them to her friends in order to support a charity she chose. The timeline and our conversations around her Christmas gifts and initiatives might seem pretty blurry now (my pregnancy brain is merciless!) but in my head the only clear unaltered image is the one of the beautiful camomile jar I still have and those scrumptious festive biscuits santa and I enjoyed with a glass of milk 😉
More green tips
1. The list goes on as there are many projects we can all get involved in, like buying more local and supporting small businesses. As much as I find online shopping so convenient for my busy lifestyle, I still try to make an effort and hit the local Christmas markets where local businesses are displaying a great deal of festive products.
2. Also, if you decide to go away for Christmas, don’t forget to unplug appliances.
3. Another tick on my box is investing in experiences rather than buying gifts and this has to be one of my favourite green gift ideas! Why invest in something that they might like less or not use much…A nice ticket to the theatre or to a show might create more memories. Kidadl is a great website/app where you can find some amazing experience they’ll love (founded by a busy mum of three).
4. Last but never least, more shopping means more shopping bags so careful with that plastic 😉