It has been an amazing year for me starting the blog, and I can not believe how much and how fast the community has grown! This is due to you lovely readers and your support of my aim to promote the message of “Healthy Planet, Healthy People, Healthy Home”. Thank you all for following and reading. xx
No matter where you are in the world or what your tradition is, for many of us, this is both a hectic and an exciting time of year. For some people, Christmas is also a time of sadness. One for reflection about loved ones no longer with us for example. I certainly will be doing this as the first Christmas without my beautiful best friend Denice.
Christmas is also one time of year where we are wooed from all angles to buy, buy, buy. That is fine as long as you consider your purchases and look for sustainable, ethical and fair trade gifts and decorating items.
My Tips for a Sustainable Christmas
Decorating and Your Christmas Table
- Don’t overdo the catering! None of us need it, food waste is one of the biggest problems we have on the planet. Buy enough, enjoy and indulge a little, have some leftovers for a few days, but don’t buy so much you feel ill and have to throw a heap away. Also buy local, from farmer’s markets, local fruit and veg stores and your local butcher.
- Make your own Christmas Decorations and/or keep using the same ones over and over. I have decorations my kids made 15 years ago; decorations from my mother in law who passed away many years ago and decorations I have had for years, some via fair trade organisations and some bought secondhand from Charity Shops and Garage Sales.
- You can create a beautiful Christmas Table Centrepiece with things like decorated pine cones, soy candles in vintage teacups, upcycled plate stands – just for starters.
- Use what is local to you flower wise, or use small tree branches to create a mini Christmas Tree, with decorations hanging on the branches to sit on the table. Find unusual vases such as old teapots, jars and jugs with Christmas colours, to create a vintage feel which is individual and gorgeous!
- Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays. If you are in an area where this is the “done thing” and you really want to participate, use solar powered or LED lights. According to Green Living, LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
- Use your children’s decorating skills. They may be creating things at school and you can start some projects together. I painted pine cones with my 5 year old and built our own Christmas Tree and whilst not glamorous and very handmade, they look lovely and are made with heart.
- Go outside the square and hang ornaments in your trees in the front yard, tinsel on your porch and give the lights a miss. Create a new trend!
- Instead of sticking with the traditional white, green, red, silver of Christmas, look to current trends such as the rustic organic nature of natural textiles, vintage colours such as minty greens and baby blues.
- While artificial trees are supposed to last forever, research shows that they are often thrown away after a time. These plastic trees are then sent to landfills, where they last forever. Potted and live trees, are mostly a renewable resource if they are grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. It is important to consider what you will do with the tree once Christmas is over. Chipping the tree for mulch or passing on to your local council in the green waste is a great way to do this.
- I have come across a few people making amazing bespoke trees such as One Two Tree and Greg Hatton. You may take inspiration from their work and create a tree yourself like we did!
Gifts – it is getting to the pointy end when it comes to gifts but if you have not organised yours yet, here are some ideas
- Visit local Vintage and Charity Shops to find gifts, decorations, cards and wrapping paper.
- Look on eBay and Etsy for second hand things you want to give people, to get ideas, or to use in your Christmas décor.
- Make something yourself – craft, bake or put together a memory box, or write a poem, make a collage of photos of a special time and add some words about what you loved about it, strike some cuttings from your garden and pot then up to give as something grown by you.
- Create an experience and give this as a gift- a massage, family outing or babysitting offer. Giving your time is something that money can not buy.
- If you really want to buy new, get fai trade items from a variety of stores you can now find online and in your area.
- Use any wrapping paper you can find second hand in Op shops, or you can make your own out of newspaper or other recycled paper you can find at home, comic strips and decorated brown paper bags work just as well as fancy paper, and chances are, you already have some lying around. Gift boxes can also be kept and reused the following year, and used paper wrapping can be trimmed to remove the sticky tape, ironed on a low heat to remove the creases, and reused again and again!
- Recycle your used paper wrapping or give it another life by making your own gift tags with the graphics and patterns on it. Use string and wool to tie gifts and give a rustic handmade feel.
- Avoid buying plastic and foil wrapping and keep any you receive out of the recycling bin as it contaminates the recycling process. Instead, if you open your plastic and foil wrapped gifts carefully, you’ll be able use the wrapping on another gift next year.
- Cut the backs off old Christmas cards to turn them into gift cards, and use in crafts.
- Think outside the square – you might find a number of quirky items that go well together to create a basket or set of gifts for a particular person in the local Charity or Thrift Shop.
- There are often gifts that have been bought and donated to Charity and Thrift shops never opened such as soaps, bath sets, candles and homewares, linen, towels and CD’s.
- For my older children instead of buying just recycled, I give them cash or vouchers for digital music so they can choose what they want to avoid buying something that will go to waste, and/or buy them vintage or fair trade clothing as part of their presents, sometimes I find older boys toys as well!
- For the stockings I add socks, underwear, new toothbrushes (I think these need to be new, but this is a great alternative to more junk in the stockings) and a few chocolaty christmas treats.
- Books books and more books are abundant second hand or you could write a poem, scrap book, or story about a special time in your family’s life and give that as a personal gift. Create a montage of pictures to go with the story.
- Give fair trade and gifts that give something genuine to a community who need it – my kids love knowing they have bought a goat or pig for a community in need!
- Look for locally made gifts. This reduces the need for transportation across large distances which contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs, markets and artisan shops are often happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas and are a great way to find gifts. A bonus of this is that many have a story to tell because you have met the person who made the gift and that is priceless.
- Choose gifts made from recycled sources. There are plenty of businesses who are producing fabulous items from recycled materials such as plastic, tyres and paper.
Most of all remember to focus on what matters at Christmas time – spending time with loved ones, reflecting on the year that has passed, thinking about the year ahead. Consider your impact on the world, on people and planet and decorate your home and table with heart and sustainability this Christmas.
I wish you all a wonderful day and a happy and healthy journey into 2014. Thank you for joining us this year.