Wondering how you can make more planet-friendly decisions this Christmas? At Au Natural Skinfood we have been brainstorming how we can apply our core philosophies to the festive season - both at home and in the office - and we have come up with 10 suggestions to help you achieve a truly green Christmas.
In the UK an incredible 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away every year. We could not find any New Zealand stats on this matter but suspect millions for be true for us too. This year, instead of the traditional Christmas card, why not send an e-card to friends and loved ones. There are many on-line services offering e-cards- some there is a small fee to pay and some are free. I found this one that I liked and it was easy to use.
Why not buy a potted tree? My daughter and her husband have purchased a small potted tree, which they have decorated and lovingly water each day. They plan to look after it in their garden and bring it back inside every year at Christmas. No more cutting down a tree each year, only to be discarded four weeks later.
Whilst Christmas is very merry for many of us, I am very conscious that it isn't always a happy time for everyone. This year for my Book Club’s annual Christmas dinner, we asked everyone to bring along clothing, bedding and toys in good condition, which we have donated to a local charity to assist families in need at this time.
Sadly, most decorations including tinsel and glitter, are made from plastic! Look around for eco-friendly or homemade decorations. There are some lovely wooden decorations around – my favourite are in store at Citta.
Nature offers so much in the way of flowers, pine cones and greenery to decorate your Christmas table. Remember to look at what is around you to use before rushing out and purchasing a plastic alternative. Remember if you no longer need these holiday decorations to give them away to someone or a charity that will use them, rather than throw them out into our landfill. If you use fairy lights, make sure you get LED ones. They are the most energy efficient and put a timer on them so that they are not on all day. When setting your festive table, try to use soy or beeswax candles.
Eco Friendly Gifts
If your family and friends do exchange gifts, why not try doing a “Secret Santa” this year. It can be good fun and reduce the impact of waste and cost at Christmas. You could make a rule that everybody has to bring a recycled or upcycled gift which could include homemade sauces, sweets or body scrubs in a recycled jar or a home grown rose bush or seedlings.
The following sites offer eco-friendly and fair-trade gifts:
The costs of entertaining ourselves over the holiday period can be enormous, not to mention the cost often to the environment.
My advice, take a deep breath and get back to basics this Christmas:
- Board games can be hilarious fun, especially for rainy days;
- Volley ball, cricket, ball games at home or at your local park are easy and a good way to work off your Christmas lunch;
- Look on your local community pages to find out what festival walks and events are available;
- Walk, bike or share transport to events. Make your Christmas even greener by using public transport as a family these trips can be good fun and create a memory.
New Zealanders throw away a staggering 23 square km of wrapping paper every Christmas. So when choosing your wrapping paper, try to buy from a sustainable source, better still, try reusable bags or stockings to wrap your presents. Use offcuts of paper, newspaper or old cards to make gift tags. I have seen gifts beautifully wrapped in a scarf or dish towel, perhaps a cotton shopping tote bag could be a good idea. Another fun thing to do is hide unwrapped gifts in your home and send the recipient text clues to find the gift, and clues as to what the gift actually is.
Check out this beautiful idea from Citta
Supporting local home industry or markets often means you are giving a gift that has been made with love and that is making a difference to the lives of people in your local community. Local flowers or Christmas table fresh wreaths make gorgeous gifts. You can find some great ideas at the following markets in New Zealand - Matakana Village Market, Titirangi Markets, Coatsville Market, Christchurch Farmers' Market, Wellington Underground Market
Reduce Food Waste
Taking a list when you go out food shopping and sticking to the list is always a good start. Try to choose things that are light on packaging or buy loose items. Don’t just bin your left overs, transform them into creative new meals saving you money and waste. Challenge family members to come up with meal ideas with the leftovers that you have. I was surprised at how many sites there are on leftover makeovers. Love food hate waste is one of my favs. If you have a freezer, freezing your leftovers is a good option, or donate some to a local neighbour or friend.
Why not try cutting down on the meat that you eat this Christmas? there are some truly delicious festive vegetarian meals all so easily accessible online. Even if you just reduce meat for some of the days of the festive break. According to the Soil Association, “food is the single most important everyday way for people to reduce their own environmental impact”. Jamie Oliver has some great vegetarian recipes that I love to use all year round but will certainly be using this Christmas. The whole roasted cauliflower is delicious.
In summary I think if we don’t beat ourselves up for what we are not doing and we all try to make small differences here and there, that the overall impact on our earth will be significant and we may just have taught a child along the way something significant or made a small difference in someone else’s life.
Happy & Safe Holidays