With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness now behind us and everyone’s focus shifting towards the festive period. I thought now would be a good time to look into how we can all enjoy a plastic free Christmas. Think of it as your Christmas present to Mother Nature. If you are in a particularly giving mood at this time of year, there are many organizations you can donate to and get involved in, that are helping to clean up our plastic waste.
While it can be difficult to avoid plastic at the best of times, Christmas can be an especially testing time. There’re plastic trees, decorations, presents, wrapping paper and more we have to contend with as we enjoy and indulge ourselves. With the help of this article, I hope this is the year we can all start to become more aware of and try to reduce our plastic usage.
Get Into the Christmas Spirit
I love Christmas. Although I am an adult with no children of my own, I still love it. The lights and decorations all around us help to lift my mood, in what would otherwise be a pretty miserable time of year with it being wet and cold all the time (I’m looking at you Manchester).
Despite my love for Christmas and all the decorations, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that many of them are made from plastic and that many things will be disregarded to make room for new decorations or when the flimsy ones inevitably break.
So what can we do about it?
The first thing I would like to say is, if you do have a plastic Christmas tree or decorations, try to get as much use as possible out them before throwing them out, where they will most likely end up in a land fill.
Luckily for me, I have just moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend and because we have spent the last few Christmas periods in different countries, we don’t have a large amount of old decorations stored in boxes in the attic.
So how are we going to make the best of our clean slate and go completely plastic free with our decorations?
We are going to rent a Christmas tree. Yes, this is an option. You can rent a tree over the Christmas period and return it after, where it will then be re-planted to continue growing. The other option we considered was to buy an Eco friendly tree and returning it to be recycled.
There are so many alternatives to plastic decorations, I may even devote an entire article to it, but in the meantime here’s what we plan to do this year. To decorate our tree, we are going to use paper snowflakes, handmade glass baubles, dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks. This will give the tree style, color and a great Christmassy smell.
We are also going to bake some Christmas cookies and hang them on our tree for a quick treat and a replacement for the individually plastic wrapped candy canes.
While Christmas is known as the time of giving, it is also a great time for a little self indulgance. Whether you’re enjoying your Christmas dinner with all the trimmings or stealing one too many Christmas cookies off your tree, it is important to think about how much waste is being created.
For those of you who enjoy baking or would at least like to try, homemade snacks are a great way to reduce your plastic waste this Christmas. You can make biscuits, cookies, cakes and puddings that will ensure there is no one reaching for a packet of crisp to snack on.
When you do your Christmas grocery shopping this year there are a couple of important things to keep in mind It will help you reduce your plastic usage. These are; always take a reusable bag with you, buy your fruit and veg from your local market and try to avoid the individually wrapped puddings. I went into more detail about this subject in a previous article you can find here.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Giving gifts is an important part of Christmas, but it is also one of the major sources of plastic waste in the festive period. Whether it’s Christmas cards, toys or wrapping paper there is always some wastage that goes with it. So here is a short list of ways you can avoid such problems this Christmas.
Plastic free gifts – There are a growing number of high street and online stores that are selling plastic free Christmas decorations and gifts. One such store is Plastic Freedom, which has many quality products that will make a great Christmas present.
Making your own – In a world where we are bombarded with marketing to buy our loved ones to the perfect gift, I still find that something handmade has an extra special touch to it. That’s why, this year my girlfriend and I will be making some lovely smelling soaps for our family and friends which will be plastic free and with minimal to no wrapping necessary depending on how good they look in the end (it’s our first time trying this).
Memories & experiences – Giving a voucher for an experience is a great way to give a zero waste gift. You can buy tickets to a concert or a comedy show, book a trip or just make a promise to spend some quality time together. It is something you can do together or let the giftee do it by themselves and just enjoy them telling you what a great time they had. With a little thought, a voucher can be a great gift.
Gift cards – while gift cards may seem a little impersonal, they can actually be a very thoughtful gift. Rather than simply giving someone a gift card for the high street shops, you can think of something for each individual. I have two personal examples of this working well.
- I bought my girlfriend an Amazon kindle a couple of years ago but I find it difficult to know which books she would like to read as many of them are in German, so I buy her a gift card and voila, she can get whatever she wants.
- My younger brother loves playing on his Xbox but I find it hard to keep track of what he is into at any given time. So buying him an Xbox gift card, he can buy any game or make any in-game purchases he likes. So whether it is Mario Kart, Minecraft, Fortnite or the next big thing, he is covered.
Bonus: Both of these gift card ideas are for digital products, meaning there is zero waste from start to finish.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Wrapping paper – it is pretty standard for people wrap a gift using all plastic items (wrapping paper, tape, ribbon and bow), which is actually incredible if you think about it. All of that plastic and it just gets ripped to pieces and thrown away. The good news is there are alternatives to each. You can buy recycled wrapping paper, paper tape and use string as a ribbon. This means everything can be safely recycled.
There is also an alternative to wrapping paper, you can buy a nice scarf from your local second-hand shop which you can then use to wrap your gifts. It is cheap, stylish and reusable, which is the perfect combination really.
Christmas cards – Sending Christmas cards is something most of us do but it can be a problem. With many cards being individually wrapped in plastic or even made of plastic, it is important to find an alternative. As with wrapping paper, you can buy recycled Christmas cards which is definitely a good option but I am going another way this Christmas, as I will only be sending E-cards to my friends and family. This may not be for everyone but I personally think it is the best way moving forward.
An Idea’s for Life, Not Just for Christmas
So there you have it. I hope this article has given you some ideas of how to reduce your plastic waste this Christmas and that you can use the ideas going forward. Most of the things I have discussed today can be used for other major events and celebrations, just read through it and adjust the idea as necessary.
Thank you for reading my ultimate guide to a plastic free Christmas. As always, please feel free to comment and share. If you have any questions or suggestions, I am always happy to answer them.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!