Christmas is a time when single-use decorations abound. With Christmas approaching, we are entering the season of plastic tree baubles and endless swathes of wrapping paper, much of which will be disposed of in the new year. Christmas is the delight of the capitalist and consumerist. How do we, in the face of a society which tells us to treat and spoil those close to us, take steps to have a more sustainable Christmas while still showing others how much we care?
Give experiences instead of physical gifts. Toys, expensive make-up and jewellery, stubby-holders, cheap clothing, and wine are gifted to loved ones all around the world. But how often does a friend give you something you will treasure and remember, rather than another item that gathers dust on your shelf until you clear out your house in 5 years’ time? Experiences – such as going bunjee jumping, attending a cooking class, or seeing a musical – can be a much more effective way of showing thought in a gift, while reducing the unnecessary ‘things’ accumulating in your friend’s home. There are a range of price tags attached to any experience, and if the one you want to give is too pricey, why not collaborate with others to give the perfect gift?
Take care to use sustainable materials in your celebrations. Wrapping paper can be recycled, so long as it has no glitter, is not metallic, and is not covered in sticky tape. If in doubt, why not use a stylish brown wrapping paper and string, covered in your nephew’s adorable doodles? Reuse tree decorations, and if buying new ones ensure they can be composted or recycled at the end of their life (see our article here for more information about sustainable materials).
Use a live tree instead of a plastic tree. Or, make your own. Many people use plastic trees and, while they theoretically last forever, these artificial trees are often disposed of when they start to look as though they’ve lasted long enough. Live potted trees can last for years, and when it starts to grow too large for your home you can replant it outside. Otherwise you can turn it into mulch. But why not be creative? Find a prolific bamboo stand and harvest a few stems, to then erect in your living room; or find a fallen tree branch and hang it from your roof. Both can be covered in decorations, and will attract admiring attention from dinner guests.
Tell people your thoughts on a plastic-free Christmas, and maybe it will inspire them to have one themselves. If you are going to so much trouble to give sustainable gifts and not purchase non-recyclable tree decorations, why not talk about it with other people? Even if they don’t take your thoughts on board this Christmas, they might remember them when it’s time to start thinking about next year’s Christmas.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Planet Friendly Packaging team.