Waste Less This Christmas – 24 Tips to Reduce Your Festive Waste
As we all know Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it can also be pretty wasteful. Every year I try to reduce my waste a little bit more and I am going to share 24 tips and ideas so you can waste less this Christmas too.
1. Alternative Advent Calendar
Advent calendars don’t have to be all about commercial plastic filled trays of chocolate. There are many different reusable alternatives you could try this year from wooden, fabric, knitted or crochet calendars. Our calendar is a lovely wooden train with numbered drawers ready to be filled with all sorts of festive treats. These type of calendars last for years and can be filled with anything you fancy and the contents are completely up to you and your family. Here are a few ideas:
- Jigsaw pieces
2. Reusable Decorations
I absolutely love my reusable decorations and each year I am slowly replacing my old broken or damaged plastic decorations with more sustainable ones. Now, my old decorations have been in my Christmas kit for around 12 years and yes they are plastic but they have lasted many years and most still have a lot of life left in them. Inevitably, some have broken over the years and before Christmas last year we discovered a family of mice had eaten through a number of our decorations, including a string of lights. After the initial devastation, I pulled myself together and started buying better quality plastic free decorations, mostly lovely wooden or glass which I was able to pick up at Christmas markets. Just remember to pack and store them well after the festive period.
3. Christmas Tree
Christmas trees can be a bit of a touchy subject in zero waste circles. Artificial trees are mostly plastic but cutting down a perfectly good tree in the name of tradition also seems pretty wasteful to me. Personally, my artificial tree is at least 10 years old and while its still going strong we have no plans to change it. I will keep putting it up year after year until it no longer stands. If neither of these options suit you, you could always build a pallet tree or forgo one altogether.
4. Christmas Cards
On the whole I don’t tend to send many Christmas cards but we have family and friends who live far away so I like to pop them a card in the post. This year, however, I have made more of an effort to select cards that have been made from recycled materials or which can be recycled afterwards. That means no glitter or foil just simple, beautiful Christmas cards.
5. Shop Local
Wherever possible I like to try and shop from small or local businesses for gifts. This year has been pretty difficult but the likes of Etsy has made things a little easier. Etsy has also helped me shop for friends in other countries, meaning I’m saving on postage and shopping local to them. Buying from small businesses is a great way to support real life people as well as giving you the opportunity to find something a little more unusual or even unique. A friend of mine runs Little Fawn, a wonderful online toy shop selling a selection of beautiful, ethical, traditional wooden toys and if you have moment you can check out her website here. Next time you are wandering around your town centre, have a look out for your local, small shops and businesses.
6. Buy Pre-loved
Who said we have to buy all of our Christmas gifts brand new? It was certainly not me. That’s right, not all gifts need to be brand new. Keeping an eye out on your local selling pages can not only benefit your pocket but you could potentially save something from going to landfill. The same is true for charity shops, with the added bonus of helping out a charity too. I am always scouring Marketplace for toys, books, games and other items I could gift.
7. Cut the Crap
This one is pretty simple, stop buying those single use Christmas items that are used once then thrown in the bin. The main culprit here is Christmas crackers, you just don’t need to buy them. Those tiny plastic toys entertain us for about 30 seconds before being forgotten and discarded. If you still like the tradition on having a little surprise during your Christmas dinner you could add a small gift or chocolate to your place settings in small bags or wrapped in recycled paper
8. December Birthdays
If you have a December birthday just know that I see you and can completely empathise with you,my birthday is also at Christmas time. If you know someone who has their birthday in December please a little extra effort to make them feel special. It’s all to easy to be consumed in the Christmas spirit but spare a thought for those who’s birthday are generally overshadowed at this time of year.
9. Buy Less
For some of us this one will be a tricky one, old habits can be hard to break. Somewhere along the way we fell into the quantity over quality trap while comparing ourselves to families around. This kind of mindset has brought on a mass commercial opportunity and over consumerism. This year, why not take a step back and instead of buying heaps of presents, buy just a few meaningful and good quality gifts. You could even attempted to the four gift rule; something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I try to keep this rule in mind but I usually find a few things my daughter would like too.
10. Have a Hygge Christmas
The Christmas season is a time for indulging in the simple pleasures of winter. The basic idea of Hygge is to slow down and enjoy your favorite comforts with friends or family on those long, cold winter nights. So slow down in front of the fire with a warm mug of hot chocolate while eating a gingerbread man or your favorite sweet treats. Take pleasure in lighting some Christmas scented candles for extra warmth and soft glow while snuggling up with a loved one. Relax and take the time to enjoy the festive season.
11. Reusable Gift Wrap
Reusing gift wrap is one of those tricks that saves me money, lots of time as well as being kinder to the environment. In the UK alone, more than 200,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away every year. Over the years my family and I have been gifted many presents in gift bags… brilliant! I now have quite a large collection of bags which I have saved and reuse throughout the year, this stash come in extra handy especially at Christmas. If you are feeling particularly crafty you can make your own reusable fabric gift bags for a more personal touch.
12. Christmas Crafts
This Christmas you could get the whole family involved in making Christmas Crafts. Over the years we have made cards, pine cone bird feeders and salt dough decorations. We have also dried orange peels, built gingerbread houses and baked lots of different sweet treats. There are so many wonderful Christmas crafts to choose from but I try to find something natural and low waste and I always avoid anything with glitter. The bonus to crafting at Christmas is you can gift your handmade creations to your family and friends. Have fun and let your creative sides show this festive season.
13. Handmade Gifts
There is something truly special about receiving handmade gifts. I really appreciate it when someone takes time out of their busy lives to craft something just for me. I also love making gifts for other people. You can make anything from a crochet scarf to hand carved fruit bowl, the world is your oyster. If crafts aren’t your thing don’t panic, bake a cake, write a poem or even frame a wonderful photograph of your loved ones. There are absolutely no rules to say all our gifts need to be shop bought so think outside the box and get creative.
14. Stocking Fillers
Stocking fillers can be a tricky one to navigate. The trick here is to keep it simple. I usually go with something to eat and something to play with. This year for example, my daughter’s stocking will contain dairy free chocolate coins and a few wooden dinosaur toys. Christmas stockings should be fun and stress free and not filled with cheap plastic toys that would be unlikely survive until dinner. Other ideas I have had are colouring pencils, small wooden puzzles and, if you have the time, you could bake some tasty gingerbread men to pop inside them.
15. Donate to Charity
In the spirit of Christmas giving why not donate or volunteer for a local charity. Last year I asked my friends and family to help me donate to our local Food Bank by either donating food a little bit of money instead of gifts. They were amazing and really pulled through and I was able to donate £80 and a boot full of food. This year I will be donating to sanitary products Period Poverty North Cumbria. I personally use only reusable products but sadly for some women and girls, even the cheapest tampons and pads are still unaffordable. The team over at Period Poverty North Cumbria are doing an amazing job to ensure everybody has the right to access free sanitary products in our local area. To find out more about their good work, visit their website here.
16. Skip the Disposables
As we all know by now disposables are not not great for the planet, be it plastic, foil or paper. I am all for trying to find quicker and more convenient ways of doing things but for me, Christmas is not an excuse to use more disposables. This year, instead of cooking your turkey in a disposable foil roasting tray, invest in a decent roasting pan that will last you years. A few other good Christmas reusable swaps would be, skip paper napkins for cotton or linen, plastic cutlery for metal and swap Christmas Crackers for a small gift.
17. Christmas Jumpers
Christmas jumpers and festive clothing is a really fun way of getting in the Christmas spirit. Sadly there seems to be some sort of commercial or social pressure to buy new every single year with only only two out of every five jumpers only being worn once making them hugely wasteful. So this year instead of buying a new jumper, consider swapping with friends, creating your own or buying second hand, especially for your children. I lot of time, money and resources go into creating these wonderful garments, it would be a shame to add them to the list of single use Christmas items.
Who doesn’t love a cheery gingerbread man or slice of shortbread at Christmas? There are so many wonderful festive treats to enjoy so why not try and a bake a few delicious treats with your family. I love baking at Christmas time, its usually something quick and easy that I can also gift to loved ones and my favorite has to be shortbread. Making your own shortbread is surprisingly easy and perfect for little hands to get involved with. If you are feeling extra creative why not get everyone in the Christmas spirit by helping to decorate a gingerbread house, the smell alone will make your home feel extra festive.
19. Random Acts Of Kindness
Christmas is a time for giving and sharing with your loved ones but sadly there are a lot of people who are suffering with poverty, loneliness, bereavement, illness and mental health issues and, for these people, the Christmas period can be a really tough. Adding random acts of kindness to your Christmas traditions is great way to teach your children the joy of giving while helping put a put a smile on somebody’s face. There are thousands of acts of kindness to choose from and some of the best ones are free, smile at strangers, hand out compliments or ask about someones day. Never underestimate the power of kindness, you may never know but a smile could change someones life.
20. Less is More
One of the simplest ways to reduce your waste this Christmas is to buy less, especially when it comes to food. Traditionally, we have been all been guilty of buying more food than we could possibly eat over the festive period. Did you know in the UK alone we waste around 5 million Christmas puddings, 2 million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies every year and that doesn’t include the tonnes of vegetables. Keep your Christmas dinner simple this year, if you never eat a whole turkey, buy a crown or cook your favorite roast instead. There are no rules for the perfect Christmas dinner so if your family hates sprouts of stuffing, don’t cook them. Just because its tradition does not mean you have to buy them, your family will probably enjoy it more too.
21. Snuggle Up With a Book
This Christmas why not slow down and switch off with a good book. It can be all to easy to get caught up in the stress and all the rushing around of Christmas that we forget to take care of ourselves. Put your phone down and your to-do list to one side, grab some blankets and snuggle up with your favorite book. It is so important to take some time for yourself to wind down and relax because you also need to enjoy the festive season too. Instead of rushing out to buy new books to ready, try looking in charity shops, your local selling pages or even swap books with friends. Reading Christmas stories to your children is a great way to help them relax too while sparking their imaginations with the magic of Christmas.
22. Visit the Christmas Lights
One of my favorite things to do at Christmas time to go see the Christmas Lights. I like to make a bit of an occasion of it with a late afternoon trip to a cafe for hot chocolate and a wander around the city centre. I have always loved seeing the Christmas trees and and twinkly lights so we finish off the evening by driving the long way home spotting homes covered in festive cheer. If driving is not your thing, you could always take a walk in your local area and see how many wonderful Christmas trees you can spot.
23. Christmas Songs
Some of the simplest Christmas traditions are a fantastic way of helping everyone get in the Christmas spirit. Everyone has at least one favorite Christmas song, we have several and love to create our own Christmas disco in the living room. Turn down the lights, get on your dancing shoes and turn up the tunes. Music is a great way to set the mood whether you are looking for up beat party tunes or traditional carols for background music on Christmas morning, there’s a Christmas song for every occasion.
24. Christmas Eve Traditions
Each family has their own Christmas Eve traditions and its easy to believe we have to try and cram as many in as possible in to one day. We have tried a few different things over the years but I really believe picking one or two little traditions done well is all we truly need to make it feel special. It doesn’t need to be a full day of Christmas activities and a Christmas Eve box filled with brand new pajamas, glitter filled reindeer food, extra presents and other bits and pieces. What children really cherish and remember is the time you spend together so cut yourself some slack, kick back and relax ready for the big day. You could keep it really simple with homemade popcorn and a Christmas movie or book.
Whatever you choose to do, make an effort to be in the moment and enjoy yourself. Merry Christmas to you all.