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Once upon a sustainable Christmas

The holiday season approaches, and we are bombarded with images of plastic decorations, extravagant food, and every kind of gift under the sun. While for many of us these generate feelings of nostalgia, joy and love, we think it’s time to revolutionize these. Growing up in a lower-middle class household, we held onto our Christmas decorations for years, and even now have a plastic tree with plenty of lights and baubles that I’ve had for many Christmases. These were things purchased before connecting all of the wires about how unsustainable it was.

Now, before we dive in to how we can all move towards more eco-friendly holiday season, there’s no need to throw out what you have! Personally, I’ll be holding onto what I’ve got for as long as I can before figuring out the best way to dispose or recycle it. But, let’s take a look at what we could do this season.

I’ll make a confession here, I love Christmas. This part might be less important for you but I love decorating the house coming up to Christmas time. As we said, keep the decorations you’ve got and deck it out! But if you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve got some ideas. For some homemade goodness, try out dried orange slices (or any other citrus)! We’ve seen this one all over Instagram and it looks spectacular. Slice the oranges up thinly and pop them in the oven at 170F/80C for a three hours, then string them up! Check out @impactforgood and @my_plastic_free_home. You can do something similar with dried cranberries to add some extra Christmas colour too! Salt dough is another “food” based decoration you can make at home. Mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 cup of water together. Then simply roll them out, cut whatever shapes you like, and bake at 170F/80C. Probably the easiest one we’ve seen is reusing old cardboard. Simple, easy, genius. Cut old cardboard into whatever shapes you like, then decorate! Paint them, draw on them, anything you like! And last but not least, get some vegetation up in your space. We’re not necessarily talking about a whole tree but some cuts of local plants hung up, in pots or anything brings some Christmas vibes.

Photo by @my_plastic_free_home of their lovely dried orange slices and salt dough ornaments.

Giving a bit of focus to what goes on your plate, and into the trash after can also make a difference in your sustainable Christmas. We’re sure you’ve heard about the impacts that animal agriculture has on people and the environment, so try a vegan/veggie Christmas lunch, or just keep the meat products minimal. Chicken is a great option for a lower impact meat and suits all those usual accompaniments. Make as much as you can from scratch, and don’t go overboard! If you end up with leftovers, save them for the next day (I reckon post-Christmas leftovers taste even better!) or check out if there are any places that will accept them to give to those in need. And lastly, dispose of any scraps responsibly! Pop them in your compost or green waste bin (along with those wonderful compostable ornaments you made).

We’ve got a big one here; gift giving. It feels great to give someone you love a gift that makes them happy and there’s no reason this can’t be a more sustainable or eco-friendly option. Some good principles to go by are if you’re going to buy something, make sure you know the person will love it and that it’s long-lasting. Bonus if it’s from an ethical and sustainable company, or it’s some kind of reusable (which we think is a great idea to motivate your friends and family to get on the no single-used plastics train). Secondly, gifting experiences is a great idea! Cool nature experiences like kayak adventures and cave exploring, movie tickets, or classes like art, music, yoga or anything they might have wanted to try. One of my favourite things to give close family and friends is baked goods. Cookies, cakes, or whatever your field of expertise is! Homemade gifts are probably the best thing ever. Whether it’s food, a drawing, homemade bath salts, coffee scrubs, homemade gifts feel like they have so much love and care in them.

Photo of my gifted cookies last year (they're not the best I've ever seen but I promise there was lots of love in these).

So whatever you decide to do this year, take a step back, have a think. But don’t forget to enjoy! Being sustainable doesn’t mean boring, so keep creative, and keep full of love. I’m going to be having a vegan feast, be gifting cookies, cupcakes and thoughtful items, making some dried fruit decorations and most of all, enjoying the company of my loved ones.

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