We’re sure you’re aware, but we do make a lot of waste over the festive season.
A survey commissioned by GP batteries found “one in six often try to justify the amount of waste they produce, with 34 per cent of those believing it’s just part of Christmas.”
But it’s also a crying shame, because it doesn’t have to be this way. The wastefulness doesn’t have to be a part of the tradition.
Here are a few easy ways to reduce your impact.
Use Eco-tape, or string
We get it, tape us useful. The adulation thrown on Duct Tape’s ability to fix almost anything is a testament to this (it’s even been used to bandage wounds!).
However, holding pieces of wrapping paper together (recycled, we hope), is not such an arduous task. These days, the plethora of options for biodegradable and recycled sticky tape means there is no excuse not to use them.
Yes, they’re slightly more expensive. But really, on the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big price to pay. Perhaps it’ll make people a bit more careful too. Cutting off only what is required, and less disposed to getting it stuck to things accidentally and ending up with a large mess made up of meters of tape (we’ve been there).
Waste less food
Image by Jill-heyer-tox Via Unsplash
This one is easy. And really applies to the whole year.
Buy only what you need (and will eat). Buying less means you can either save money, or buy better quality.
Store your food appropriately to make it last longer (not everything actually benefits from being in the fridge). Ignore ‘best before’ dates and trust your nose (it’s what it was designed for).
At mealtimes, put less on your plate (you can always return for seconds or thirds!), eat slower (and enjoy), and make use of the leftovers. You went to the trouble of preparing it all, why wouldn’t you save it?
If you do end up with things you know you won’t use, consider sharing them with others, using one of the amazing food sharing apps.
Sprouts (read, tradition)
Sprouts are not a tradition. Many ‘traditions’ aren’t. You’ve been conditioned to believe this by the relevant industry (there normally is one), who either struggle to shift their product or want to generate more demand.
Personally, I love sprouts. They’re incredibly good for your health and taste amazing when cooked well.
But, if you don’t like them, and won’t eat them, why buy them in the first place?
The same goes for any ‘tradition’. If you find yourself doing something but don’t know why (i.e. ‘it’s always been like this’), consider if you actually enjoy, and want to continue doing, it. If not, feel free to stop.
Then consider yourself liberated.
Put your lights on a timer
What an age we live in! We now have smart plugs that connect to your wifi, so you can control the power from your phone, wherever you are in the world!
Get one for your Christmas lights. Then you can either set a schedule for when you’d like the lights to go on and off, or turn them on and off yourself remotely. A cheaper option is a mechanical timer, which allows for a set on/off schedule.
Either way, not only do you save energy, but money too! Win-win.
Say no to cards
Ok, cards are nice to receive. It’s always good to know people are thinking of you, and took the time to choose, write and send something to show this.
Gorgeous plantable cards by Loop Loop
But, be really honest with yourself. Have you ever had more than 5 seconds of joy from a Christmas card?
Because I haven’t.
These funny cards are made by Sketchy Print Co.
This might make me a scrooge, but honestly, an email, phone call, or drink in real life(!) lasts longer in my memory. Perhaps this year you can try an alternative to cards? (i.e. ‘spoken cards’) It’ll be an experiment, see how it goes.
Or, if you send cards, try and buy ones made of recycled paper or from sustainably managed forests. And, if you receive cards, reuse them as gift tags for presents next year, and recycle them properly.
Or, better still, get them from awesome independent brands such as Loop Loop Crafts or Hannah Marchant. Cards that are made in the UK from recycled paper, printed with vegetable inks and implanted with wildflower seeds!
Buy reusable batteries
In 2017 we used 189 million batteries over Christmas. But is this really necessary anymore? Especially given the advances in reusable battery technology - meaning prices have fallen while performance has gone up.
You can get a cheap pack of rechargeable batteries for as little as £1 each. Although this is initially much more than the £0.18p for normal batteries, you should factor in the 1000 times you can re-use it. Suddenly, the rechargeable option becomes much cheaper. 1000 of the cheapest batteries will cost you £180, that's £179 more! (As well as needing extra trips to the store or online orders, extra packaging waste, delivery charges etc).
Even if you don’t use it 1000 times. It only takes 6 recharges before the reusable battery has paid for itself.
One less gift
This isn’t what it sounds like. We’re not saying be a scrooge. We’re advocating quality over quantity. Showing your love through the medium of a gift is a wonderful thing, but have you ever received lots of gifts that you didn’t want? Thus resurrecting the other Christmas pantomime - of feigned delight for yet another thing that is neither wanted or needed.
Yes, it’s the thought that counts. But how much thought actually went in? Is one more tiny, forgettable piece of plastic crap really necessary?
Furthermore, how much more satisfying it would be, to be able to tell the delighted recipient of your thoughtful gifts: “I found the Zero Waste Christmas Market in London, travelled there personally to choose this gift for you. And while there I met the founder of the business who made it themselves by hand.”
That’d put some meaning back into the words “it’s the thought that counts”.
One Magical Gift
Many take the shotgun approach to gift-giving noted above. Unable to work out exactly what the recipient wants, the approach is to buy many many things and hope collectively they make up for this. The result is that most of us can’t even remember what we received last year.
It begs the question: Would it not be nicer to give, (or receive) one high-quality, truly thoughtful gift.
So here’s a paradigm shift.
Instead of buying lots and lots of things, valuing quantity over quality, why not take the time to choose something absolutely amazing? One really thoughtful, high quality, memorable, magical gift.
Admittedly, it’s a hard thing to get our heads around. We associate generosity and abundance with quantity, not quality. We’re conditioned by years of exposure to advertising and social media that having ever better, newer, shinier things, is what will make us happy.
So perhaps it doesn’t have to be the only thing you give, but it can be a memorable centerpiece around which you give a few other (green) gifts.
Don’t know what a magical gift is? Try this rule of thumb: will your gift be remembered in 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? 5 years? 10? The more milestones you can tick off, the better. Assuming, of course, it’s memorable for the right reasons!
Think about it, what’s the last (or best) Christmas gift you remember receiving? In answering that question, many will go back years, even to childhood. Perhaps to something like your first bike, or that toy you really really wanted. You’ll probably remember little else about that Christmas, but you’ll remember that gift. And, very likely, the extended joy it brought you afterward.
Aim for that.
This is why believe in the power of choosing well and buying better.