Yes, Christmas is coming, like an unstoppable freight train with heaps of waste lying in its wake, it is unavoidable. And, like every year, it brings with it the usual conflict of wanting to avoid the excessive commercial assault while still retaining some of the magic.
But somehow, if the idea of a plastic free Christmas seems like something only an insta influencer could pull off, read on my eco warrior friend. The 10 tips for a plastic free Christmas might just be simple enough for even the least organised and time-pressed of shoppers
It’s no secret our local small businesses are seeing a downturn on Christmas sales this year. And to ensure its future longevity, our first stop should be out local store owners. Not only will this cut down on your overall carbon and plastic footprint but you are putting that money back into your local community.
The Christmas Tree
This is not where I tell you to chuck away your plastic tree and baubles and venture into the woods to cut down your own tree. On the contrary, if you have a plastic tree and decorations then keep using it as long as possible. Remember the old adage, reduce, reuse, recycle. The reuse part of that saying often gets overlooked, so do what you can to use what you have. Of course, if you don’t have a tree, try opt for a tree in a pot that can be used year after year. Not only will it become part of the family but it will fill your home with a gorgeous pine scent. If that is too much of a commitment, you can rent a tree, or even get your very own wooden tree.
Of course, when you have secured that perfect Christmas tree why not go a bit further and get some lovely eco-friendly decorations. If you have the time, and inclination, you can bake some yummy cookies and ang them on your tree. You could string popcorn instead of buying tinsel. If that all sounds like far too much effort then have a scroll through some of the online marketplaces and support a small business making eco-friendly decorations.
While it is traditional to send a lot of Christmas cards this year why not opt for an ecard. It conveys the sentiment while eliminating the use of plastic. If you are a traditionalist to the core, why not look at plantable cards? I find these super cool because not only is there no waste but your recipient will have the joy of thinking of how thoughtful you were when the seeds grow into beautiful flowers.
This is where plastic free choices can really shine. The first thing you could consider is a virtual gift. Could you make a donation to a charity on your receiver’s behalf? Could you get them an experience gift? A voucher to their favourite store?
If that isn’t in your Christmas plan, not to worry there are still loads of ideas to keep plastic away from your festive celebrations. When it comes to children, wooden toys are on the rise which gives a lot of options for parents conflicted by the unwavering pressure to purchase the entire Argos catalogue conflicting with their own environmental pursuits. You could also consider getting toys they really want from second hand sites such as Facebook marketplace, Vinted or Shpock. My daughter has her birthday just before Christmas and I have managed to secure just about everything she asked for through these platforms. Not only has it saved my budget (she has expensive taste!) but I have also, eliminated the throw away plastic packaging and saved an otherwise perfectly usable toy from landfill. And of course, I have can bask in my eco-friendly smugness for a day.
Of course, if it’s pampering items you’re after you know I’ve got a gift set to cover everyone’s tastes.
Did you know that in the UK alone, we throw away enough wrapping paper to wrap around the world 9 times. Now I don’t know about you, but given where we are in the climate crisis, I just can’t see how that is justifiable for something that is used for such a short time. Good thing I have some cracking (get it?) ideas to help you choose alternatives for wrapping your gifts.
This year I will be using Christmas themed tea towels for the extended family gifts (sorry to anyone reading this before the big day, bit of a spoiler). There is a wide choice of these and let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a new tea towel in the kitchen drawer? When it comes to the kids, you could opt for a cute gift sack. Alternatively, newspaper with a lovely ribbon can be very eye-catching under the tree, and very budget friendly.
The plastic tat that comes out of traditional Christmas crackers, while traditional, they are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to single-use plastic. Instead of foregoing crackers altogether, why not look at some plastic free options. I managed to find a fun game themed set at Aldi which is totally plastic free and actually quite easy on the budget too!
You could also try your hand at making your own reusable crackers that you can use year after year, creating your own tradition. If you’re not feeling particularly crafty, there are tons of listings on Etsy and the like, so you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing plastic free. From fabric to tin, you’re bound to find something that catches your eye.
This is one is less tricky than you would imagine. While the obvious choice of visiting your local butcher with your own containers, or a local farm shop would seem the great choice, not everyone has access, or the budget for this. Thankfully local supermarkets are gradually coming round to the plastic free way of life that so many people are starting to embrace. By simply taking your own container to the meat counter at your local supermarket, you can request what you need. Add some naked veggies and you can prepare your family dinner knowing you have kicked plastic out of your kitchen, at least for one meal.
There is a sense of excitement building as you open each window of your advent calendar to reveal a lovely treat. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the box, or insert tray is plastic and leads to more festive waste. There is a solution to this, of course, you could make or buy a reusable advent calendar and fill it with daily treats. They come in all shapes and sizes, from bunting ones to wooden ones. All of which the planet will thank you for using. Of course, if you want to save the time and require an advent that is already filled, you know I’m going to point in the direction of our very my wax melt advent calendar. With 24 unique fragrances to keep your home smelling gorgeous what’s not to love?
There is nothing more exciting waking up on Christmas morning to have a rummage around your stocking to see what treats you will find. How about finding lovely homemade treats, vouchers or even everyday plastic free goodies like shampoo bars, bath bombs or toothbrushes that can make your life sustainable for the year ahead?
A final reminder…
The most important thing to remember this Christmas is that it is about spending time with family and slowing down to enjoy them. Too often we race through life forgetting to just soak their presence in. Everyone is on a different green journey and while it would be wonderful for us to implement all of the ideas presented here, just remember that one small choice is always better than no choice at all. And of course if you have any other plastic free tips for Christmas feel free to drop them down below so we can all learn from your wisdom.