For Team Ecologico, Christmas is a feeling; the gorgeous smells, the twinkly lights, going out in the cold all wrapped up, the food...oh the food!
Mr Ecologico would probably say I could give Mrs. Claus a run for her money with my love of Christmas, and intense organisation of the festive period, but since we had Squishy and Red, it really has become all about slowing down, being present and enjoying Christmas through their eyes.
And for me that’s the bit that I never want to lose no matter what changes we make. But I really do believe it’s possible to keep all of our favourite bits of Christmas and make it more planet friendly...and who knows, it might just make Christmas even better!
One UK waste company estimates that we produce around 30% more waste during the festive period and send over 100million bags of rubbish to landfill.
In the UK we generate the weight of 3.3 million Emperor penguins in plastic waste each Christmas. 27,000 miles of wrapping paper is used annually in the UK. That's enough wrapping paper to wrap around the Earth 9 times. Including leftovers, equivalent of 2 million turkeys end up in the bin each year, along with 5 million Christmas puddings. Then there's those twinkly lights I mentioned; 500 tonnes of fairy lights are thrown away each year and end up in landfill!
When I start thinking about these numbers, the Christmassy feeling is replaced by something else; guilt, shame, anger, whatever it is, it's certainly isn't festive cheer! But never fear, there are easy swaps, tips and hacks to make your Christmas celebrations more sustainable without losing that Christmas magic.
Decorations seem like a good place to start:
If you're like us, you probably have a stash that you add to each year, and are using a tree and decorations from years (in my case over 10 years) gone by. I believe that most people already re-use Christmas decorations year on year at least to some degree. So keep doing that and if you do choose some new additions, please try to avoid glitter; as any parent knows, glitter goes EVERYWHERE, which means lots of little micro-plastics in the environment.
However, if you have the time and you're feeling particularly adventurous you could make your own (and this is a great activity to involve the kids in, even for the most novice crafter!):
Here are some ideas for you add that little bit of handmade wow to your home this Christmas:
The focal point of a lot of people's homes at Christmas is the Christmas Tree; this is a contentious one. Our artificial (ok yes plastic!) tree was given to me by my parents when I moved into my own flat as a right of passage into adulthood. So I've had it 10 years and it was theirs before that; talk about sustainable! Some people are real 'real tree' lovers and I do understand why; but there are ways you can even make this a bit more sustainable:
-You can now rent a real tree for Christmas: it's potted, they deliver it to you and then they come and collect it from you again in the new year to replant.
-If you really want a real tree, you could get a potted one yourself that you can re-use for a few years.
-If not, see if you’re council will take your tree away after the festive season for recycling – usually it gets made into chippings.
Please be aware that a real tree will give off CO2 as it rots down and dispose of it properly.
When I was younger my mum used to make gift tags from old Christmas cards; who knew she was setting me up to be sustainable and thrifty! But I'm glad she did and these days we (as a family) send very few physical cards; e-cards are a much greener way of sending festive messages to loved ones near and far.
Did you know,nearly 100 million single Christmas cards were sold, plus 900 million cards were sold in boxes. That’s £230 million on boxes of cards alone! Also, please remember, any cards that contain glitter or embellishment can't be recycled, so please consider buying recycled cards. There are lots of options available now, so you should be able to find them quite easily.
The same goes for wrapping paper: those stats from earlier were pretty shocking, right? So please, when it come to wrapping presents avoid glitter, foil; you get the picture. If wrapping paper 'scrunches' it can be recycled, but brown paper (only decorated with ink, not paint, to ensure you can recycle it) is a fantastic alternative; or try the Japanese art of furoshiki (more on that in an upcoming blog!). Also, think about the tape you use; there are some fantastic non-plastic tapes out there, or good old string or ribbons.
I hope you've enjoyed our whistle-stop swaps for Christmas preparations, and I think you could say that's a wrap!
Check out our other slow Christmas blogs and enjoy your greener Christmas preparations. Let us know any changes you have made and share your ideas with us.