Christmas – the most wasteful time of year

I’m sure you’ve come across this complaint before, but what can you do about it?

Christmas is one of the most commercialised, glutinous, expensive, stressful and wasteful times of the year. But also for many of us, one of the most looked forward to, enjoyed and remembered.  

So if we are trying to be “conscious consumers” all year, this can be a tough time. We try not to buy things unless we really need them and when we’ve vigorously researched the product and the company the product comes from. We try to make sure we buy from “good” companies, that at least pay their staff and suppliers a living wage, and maybe even local materials and labour. It is very tough trying to do the right thing, buy the right thing, support the right people, but at least if you’re trying, you’re doing great!

My main aim is to just buy less, then buy used or local. I don’t use Amazon and prefer to not shop in supermarkets too. So if I was to give one piece of advice this Christmas it would be:

“buy less, buy used or buy local and don’t use Amazon!”

Tree

Last year we bought a “live” tree in a pot (outside a supermarket close to us). It survived December, but died shortly after going into the garden. This year we bought another living tree but from a local, independent garden centre that we go to frequently. It’s a different type of tree, we’ll water it every now and then and we will put it in a sunnier spot when we put it outside – and maybe, just maybe it will survive until next year! I hope so!

Real tree versus Fake tree. This is a tough one, but from what I’ve read, a properly disposed of real tree has a lower carbon footprint than a fake tree. Properly disposed of, as in composted, turned to wood chip or put on the bonfire, rather than landfill. Landfill is a big no. 

Fake trees will have a lower carbon footprint the longer they are brought from the loft, but they’re still made from plastic (oil) and need energy to be manufactured AND transported so they have big footprints before they’re even in your home. Whereas a real tree from a local farm that plants more each year, and that is turned into wood chippings that go on someone’s allotment for example is much better. They also look and smell better in my opinion. 

Decorations

  1. Make your own
  2. Use natural materials
  3. Reuse 
  4. Plastic free

This year I’ve made a wreath, a christmas garland and some snowflakes using foraged bits and bobs, dried apple and toilet rolls. Last year I made paper snowflakes and a paper chain that is being used again. Our tree decorations we are slowly accumulating each year, we have enough for a small tree and they all come with a memory. Including my favourite, a bauble with a goblin on top that I bought on a day trip to Lille years ago. Our tree has a definite animal theme, we have a sloth, a llama, a penguin, a robin and an elephant – we are animal lovers!

I made the wreath with a friend, first we foraged for some holly, ivy, pine cones, etc and then put all the foliage together and attached some dried orange slices from last year.

I saw snowflakes made from toilet rolls on Instagram so I gave it a go. One way just by squeezing the rolls into diamond shapes and super gluing them together. The other to fold the rolls into shapes and then gluing in to shape. I dried some apple slices in the oven and attached some holly to the string (leftover yarn). To attach things I used ties we use in the garden.

Presents

Presents are the most difficult part for me. I would love to have lots of money and buy lovely things for all my friends and family, but unfortunately I don’t. I also don’t want to buy things that they won’t use or appreciate. And, I don’t want to support billionaires so won’t use Amazon and will steer clear from bigger chains too. Luckily where I live there are lots of independent retailers, but it is still difficult (and more expensive this way). 

Another great way of supporting small and independent businesses is by using Etsy, usually handcrafted and you can even try to find something local to the person the gift is for. 

etsy.com

A handcrafted mug will be more expensive than one found in Tesco but it’ll be made with love, and you’ll put a smile on the sellers face – not just some extra pounds in a faceless organisation’s pocket. 

Top gift recommendations

  1. Books; cook books, walking books, travel books, fiction books, joke books – something for everyone 
  2. Homeware – mugs, candles, tea towels. A fancy version of something everyone uses that nobody ever thinks to buy themself I think are cute gifts that will be used!
  3. Vouchers for their favourite hair salon, nail bar, local spa, favourite coffee shop, a retailer they’ve mentioned
  4. Tickets for events; theatre, cinema, national trust garden.
toppingbooks.co.uk/

Food

Top tips:

  1. Only buy what you know you and your family/friends will eat
  2. Find recipes to use up leftovers (like bubble and squeak, which is very easy to make with leftover potatoes and cabbage)
  3. Enjoy and don’t worry about that diet

Top Tip Overall – consume less, laugh more

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