• Connie Summerfield

How to Make Christmas Sustainable

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

When lockdowns have you doing nothing else the only sensible thing to do, is to think about Christmas. I have a explored a number of ways in which you can make Christmas sustainable from gifts to tree decorations.

Sustainable Christmas Gifts:

This year has thrown up some big changes for many, for me one of them was making the switch to more sustainable products. I was successful in getting my housemate in on it too, and now we’re both actively choosing products that don’t cost the earth. Speaking about cost, the expense can often damage what will-power or motivation you had to be sustainable at the flick of a price tag. The idea of gift giving to me, is one where you choose something they’d like but not necessarily buy for themselves.

Which is where choosing sustainable or eco-friendly Christmas gifts ticks the box. It can provide those who can’t afford it, to be sustainable without the expense. Or it could prove to sceptics that eco-products do in fact work, or even help open the eyes of those around you and give them something to start with. After all nothing sends a message better than a gift.

It doesn’t just have to be sustainable gift choices either, perhaps think about ethical gifts.

This year has been especially hard on self-employed and small business owners, choosing to buy from them will mean more to them than to large corporations. A lot of small businesses are aware of climate change and are active in choosing sustainable materials or packaging, which means you won’t have to look far before finding something that suits.

Eco Wrapping Paper:

Now you’ve got your eco, sustainable, locally sourced gift, what about how you’re going to wrap it…

There’s a lot of options for sustainable wrapping paper, Christmas or not, depending on how much effort you want to put in. Why not try some of these:

  • Make your own wrapping paper - this can be done with newspaper, brown paper or even just plain paper. It could be a fun activity for the family, creating sponge stamps and painting it how you wish.

  • Find a gift bag, hamper or stocking - one of the easier options but certainly re-useable each year for yourself or the person you gift it to.

  • Brown paper and string, a few of our favourite things - it’s a simple, classy and effective way to present your gifts. You could choose string that matches the colours on your tree, or have different coloured ribbon for each person you’re giving it to.

  • Make your own gift tags - these can be beautifully creative and personal. Gather some brown card, add paint or use Christmas stencils to give each tag character, or recycle the front of old Christmas cards for pre-made images!

Sustainable Christmas Decorations:

It doesn’t end there, why not think about sustainable Christmas decorations.

I’m not saying you have to make every bauble and the angel too, but consider what your decorations are made of. Looking to small, local businesses for unique decorations is a great way to find sustainable, handmade options.

Usually this can be done at a Christmas market however, as these aren’t going ahead try searching on social media for your local virtual Christmas market. Find an abundance of stall holders and discounts for items and delivery if you live nearby.

However, if you like the hands on approach how about up-cycling old baubles? This can be done with a lick of paint, or adding new ribbon. Another option is to make your own out of papier maché, air-dry clay, or salt dough.

What’s brilliant is that loose food shops as well as farm shops are open and offering products from smaller businesses, so you can still purchase things you would’ve found at a Christmas market! Just check out some of the things I found in my local farmers market…

Stocking Fillers:

If you’ve got kids who love a stocking from Santa on Christmas morning, pop a word in with the 'big man' about what materials he uses. Maybe hint to him that he can find a whole range of handmade, sustainably sourced gifts on places like Etsy. It also offers loads of small businesses a place to sell products online so you know you’ll be supporting businesses who will be thankful for your purchases.

Chrsitmas Tree:

What's more sustainable, a re-useable plastic tree or buying and cutting down a real one?

Neither! Although a re-useable plastic tree is built to last, it will out-live us entirely. But now there's a way to re-use a real Christmas tree. It works by renting a tree for the Christmas season in a pot with soil and water. You then return the tree and it's replanted to continue growing for use next year. You can continue to use the same tree year on year, allowing it to grow-up with you!

I think this is the ultimate way to make Christmas sustainable, by choosing to rent a tree and have it still living in-between Christmasses. This means it can continue to do wonderful things like house wildlife and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Here's a little list of places you can rent a Christmas tree from:

Hopefully that has sparked a few ideas for you on making Christmas sustainable this year and maybe every year from here on out. Remember to share what ideas you have with our community so we can see the collective difference we are making!

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