How to have yourself a very merry, green Christmas

Prepare for a green Christmas
Ok with less than six weeks to go, I now feel able to talk about Christmas.  Yes, I probably am a big bah humbug, but I promise, I do still have a lot of fun and joy in my life.


I hear so many people say things like, 'oh it's so commercial' 'there's so much to do' 'it's so excessive and consumer driven' yet many continue to line up like sheep and carry on with 'traditions' (many of which aren't even that traditional). 

I've even heard someone say 'none of us like sprouts, but you have to have them as it wouldn't be Christmas without them.  It doesn't matter that they get binned.'

Christmas can be a lot more pleasant when it's given the green makeover.  Here are some examples:

Excess
Whether it's food, wrapping paper, booze, plastic or presents, most of us know that it's horrid.  A friend told me recently that they no longer buy anything for their children for birthdays or Christmas as they can't cope with the sheer volume coming into the house from well meaning relatives.  Perhaps if you're able, you can say to friends and family, 'shall we agree to cut down on all the excess?'

You could always give them a subtle hint by sending them this blog!

Around 2 million turkeys, 6 million Christmas trees and nearly 8 million kilos of sprouts are wasted each year with Christmas waste and that's just in the UK.

This is my rubbish attempt at a sad sprout face, but don't fret, these will not be wasted.


How am I going to afford it?
It's sad to hear this.  There are really so many things that we don't need to buy.


Good, green choices
A few years ago, we agreed to give presents only if they fell into at least one of the following categories:

  Homemade
  Edible
  Supporting charity / local artists

That's all sorted then.  There are lots of green present and wrapping ideas in a previous blog I wrote.  I also think it's a good idea to buy children clothes as they do grow out of them.  There are lots of ethical companies to choose things from now and it's worth remembering that if you do buy from famous (outrageously) cheap shops, you are almost certainly going to be supporting unethical practise somewhere.  As always, buy fewer things, but from better sources.   In fact, I try each year to buck the trend and spend less.  (I told you I have fun).

Here is one of my all time favourite presents - I was given a home-made felt '12 days of Christmas' which I hang up every year.  Here are 'swans a swimming' and 'lords a leaping' Not only are they completely gorgeous, but I am reminded each year by the amount of time and effort (love) that went into them, which is something that money simply can't buy.


Decorations
Make your own, they'll be much better (see above!)  If you do buy decorations, try to avoid plastic, or things that are cheaply made and will break easily. One year, we made some very simple cardboard stars which we painted gold and decorated.  We used to hang these at different heights from the ceiling and they would move gently when doors opened, or people came into the room.  They caught the light and looked amazing.

Natural decorations
A little holly and mistletoe can look great, as can home-made wreaths, but remember not to take too much.  Even better, why not make a living wreath like this one made from succulents and then give it as a present.


Cards
I still send a few, but my personal rule is only if it includes a letter (personalised and handwritten) and this will be because we don't live close by and it is the time of year that we keep in touch and swap news.  If you are going to buy cards, at least buy them from charities and make sure they have the  FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo on the back.  One of my pet hates is people who give Christmas cards to colleagues who they sit next to five days a week - as if it's some kind of whoever has the most cards is the most popular person at work contest.  The same applies to neighbours that are seen regularly.  Please stop it!

Wish lists
What can I say?  Is there anything more consumer driven and less personal than buying from a wish list?  Especially from an enormous company.  I have to confess that once upon a time, I had a wish list from a large and famous company too. Although in my defence, I did stipulate that I would prefer second hand items (my list only contained books and films) and I was often scolded for having an empty list (hurrah!) If you are going to, please consider buying things from independent retailers instead.

Crackers
You would be to buy them ;)  Make your own homemade Christmas crackers instead.

Soup kitchen
Some people choose to spend Christmas helping those less fortunate, or perhaps those without family or friends.  One family I know invited a neighbour round one year and it turned into a mutually enjoyable annual event for over twenty years.  There are various soup kitchens in towns and cities which cater for the homeless, or if you don't want to do it on Christmas day, volunteer another time or give a donation to a hospice or charity. Here are plenty of ideas help at Christmas.

Black Friday
A hideous thing that I don't take part in and you could avoid it too.  Many people all over the world have come together in defiance of this and everyone agrees to change the date to a buy nothing day.


Kindness
Is one of the best gifts that anyone can give.

Lastly
Hopefully, you'll be able to relax now, knowing that most of what you thought you had to do doesn't exist.  I'm not saying cancel everything, but if you want to get involved, do it in a greener fashion and remember less is often more.  Perhaps volunteer, make your own presents - preserved lemons, sloe gin, exquisite chocolates, or something arty like a sculpture or a collage.  I was once given 'ten things I love about you' - a simple list, peppered with drawings and something to treasure for the rest of my life.

What is your favourite gift idea?

Comments

  1. Yes,homemade to be consumed or to elicit laughter. Simple!

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    1. Indeed :) Thank you for your comment.

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  2. I have recently gone vegan and find so many things so wasteful, unethical, planet destroying etc. etc. This year I am giving all family members toilet paper from a wonderful company that makes it from bamboo and helps to build toilets in the developing world. Even if they don't want to use it (and I think they will) there will come a time when they will be yelling out for some loo roll! :-)

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