- Thursday, 6 December 2018

How to Have an Environmentally Conscious Christmas

sneak peak: five tips for how to be more eco-friendly, environmentally conscious this Christmas season

How to Have an Environmentally Conscious Christmas, imogen molly blog, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

This post is not for the full-on zero-wasters, much as I would love to say I was one of them. This is for those of us who aren't zero-waste yet, but are looking to be more sustainable, responsible, conscious and generally eco-friendly as the festive season approaches. I'm always looking for more ideas so please add your suggestions in the comments below!


1. wrapping paper
Most wrapping paper isn't recyclable, and even if it is, your local council may not even accept it. Plus, aren't we always being told "it's what's on the inside that counts"? The same goes for presents too, surely?

Instead of choosing a sparkly/shiny/otherwise magpie-attracting (and, yes, very appealing) wrapping paper, try wrapping your gifts in brown parcel paper. It's classic, simple, timeless, traditional, rustic, very pinteresty, customisable, and looks great when done up with a piece of twine and a sprig of something green. Brown paper packages tied up with string - Christmas 2018's favourite thing? (Bonus, string is much easier to separate from paper that is recyclable, whereas sellotape... is not.)

2. nibbles
At a time of universal grazing, nibbles are extremely important. It doesn't matter that the largest meal of the year is only, say, two hours away - we need something to tide us over right now. But Quality Streets come in two layers of individual wrapping each and the rubbish ones will go in the bin once they have been lying in the tin on their own for a few days (looking at you, toffee penny/golden barrell/long thin toffee penny thing/other unnecessary toffee/weird fruity ones).

Instead of a selection box of individually wrapped sweet treats, why not embrace the festive spirit and make your own? Or fill a bowl with nuts in their shells and bask in the novelty of using a nutcracker to shell your own Brazils?

I'm a huge fan of mince pies, but there are up to nine separate pieces of waste from one box of six mince pies - making your own is unbelievably easy, and while it may still create some waste, it will be considerably less whilst getting considerably more mince pies out of it (e.g. pre-made pastry comes in cardboard with paper, and mincemeat comes in a glass jar with a metal lid). You'll look like a domestic god and it's as easy as (mince) pie.

3. crackers
How many of your little cracker gifts have you ever actually used? Approximately zilcho, or maybe one if you really lucked out one year. Crackers have a ridiculous number of elements that will end up in the bin (clue: probably all of them), and very little of it is recyclable. The jokes are generally on plastic-coated paper, and the shiny stringy ribbons around the ends of the cracker will get in the way of recycling the actual card - and that's only if the card has no shiny, sparkly or glittery bits itself, and really what use is a cracker if it's not sparkly?

Instead of a cracker, why not put a little gift on each person's place at the table? Or write down a challenge for each person to perform? Or for the comedy-minded, write your own jokes out? Or give each person some actual headgear to wear that can be reused each year instead of a throwaway paper one?

4. presents
Lots of gifts are heartfelt and wonderful. Equally, there are gifts that are given just for the sake of giving something, or because it doesn't seem enough otherwise, or because they'll be funny for the duration of Christmas day and potentially a few days afterwards, and then they'll be chucked.

Instead of giving a bunch of things or stuff that you know won't be kept, consolidate your gift-giving into fewer, more meaningful presents. Maybe if you would normally give everyone two or three smaller things, give them each one bigger thing that you know they need/want/will actually use, keep, appreciate and enjoy.

5. leftovers
Eat it aaallllllllllll. Christmas is a time of plentiful food and endless munching, and that can often result in overcatering or loads of things going a bit off at the same time. Food waste is one of the prime culprits for environmental damage, and over half of food waste comes from households rather than restaurants or supermarkets.

Instead of throwing stuff out, get creative with your cooking and use what you've got - the 'leftovers sandwich' is a Christmas classic, so let's love all our leftovers and invent some new festive dishes while we're at it.

Bonus: 6. tree
I don't want to start the real vs artificial debate, because I know people get really passionate about "oh, but the smell!", so I'll instead share this: you can rent a (real) tree which gets collected and planted afterwards to minimise the environmental impact of throwing it away. Forever Green in South Essex are Google's top result for me, but due to a horrible situation they can't operate this year. Make a note for 2019! Search 'rent a christmas tree [your location]' and you may well be able to find something, but some can be misleading as they'll just collect them from you to then dispose of, rather than keep and look after.

Do you have any tips for a more environmentally conscious Christmas? Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear!

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