That’s Christmas over for Another Year…or is it?

The 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany is, in Ireland at least, the traditional day to take down your Christmas Tree and Decorations. While tidying these away I reflected on ‘Greener Christmas’ posts and newspaper articles I read in December. What got me was that they were nearly all published too late to be of any use. Here’s a sample of the kind of things

The 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany is, in Ireland at least, the traditional day to take down your Christmas Tree and Decorations. While tidying these away I reflected on ‘Greener Christmas’ posts and newspaper articles I read in December. What got me was that they were nearly all published too late to be of any use. Here’s a sample of the kind of things

  • Buy Experiences rather than physical gifts. Great idea, but I suspect it only works if you’re very close to the person and know they’ll be free to do it. Though I’m pretty sure I could find the time if someone were to offer me a holiday!
  • Handmade gifts. Hmm. Yes. If you can find the time to handmade gifts in December, fair play to you! Last year I started knitting two gifts on 4th July and they were finally finished and posted on the 24th December. The recipients are only one, so they won’t realise but adding pressure to do things like that in December is just a recipe for disaster! Though, speaking of recipes baked or cooked goods it is probably doable in December.
  • Gifts with minimal or recyclable packaging. and Ethical Gifts. I did this one but again it requires time so mid December is probably not the time to start searching.
  • Only send cards and envelopes made of recycled paper, without glitter so they can be recycled again. As I read that on 21st December, I mentally moved into next year as my cards are usually all sent by start of December.
  • Furoshiki wrapping to avoid the plastic in commercial wrapping paper. I love this idea but it’s not very practical if you’re posting gifts – all that extra bulk and knots. I also think it’s ony good if the recipient is someone who will appreciate or reuse it or better yet, you can retrieve it from, it’s a fantastic idea. If not, then it just goes into landfill too
  • Most environmental Christmas Trees to buy. They often leave the fact that if you’ve already got a fake Christmas tree, the best thing is to use it forever. I can see my wooden one lasting a lifetime, though I have to confess that if I ever move back to the Northern hemisphere a real Christmas tree would be hard to resist. That wonderful smell as you come into a dark room lit only by an open fire…
  • Food. Lot of tips about not buying too much food at Christmas. A hard ask!

Since then I’ve been thinking an awful lot about sustainability and what I could do to make things different for Christmas 2019 this year. The biggest sustainability issue with Christmas is how much waste goes to landfill – from wrapping paper to unwanted/broken gifts, with lots and lot of food thrown in. Read these startling UK statistics compiled by Jen Gale on her website. I came across these in December but decided not to share then. Adding pressure into an already fraught pre Christmas time seemed counter productive. But as I packed away my Christmas tree, I realised that the biggest way I can tackle making my Christmas more sustainable is by not packing it away like the tree.

Firstly I’ve started an audit of my 2018 Christmas – what was good, what got thrown out, what was OK but could be better? And then I’ve started thinking about how I can apply changes. Not surprisingly most of it comes down to planning in advance

  • Start handmade goods as soon as possible
  • Plan a time to make cards so I don’t need to race out and buy. If I wasn’t planning on making cards I’d buy in the sales – save a few from being sent to landfill.
  • Buy presents progressively over the year to avoid panic buys. Aim for package free, locally sourced and ethical
  • Nab any interesting scarfs or tea towels that could be used as wrapping.
  • Food – really really sticking to the list!

If you’re not completely over Christmas at this point, I’d also recommend Jen Gale’s Facebook video series the 12 Days of Crap Free Christmas  She has loads of ideas & stories about how she’s tackled reducing waste at Christmas.

Despite all the above, the most sustainable thing about Christmas is being able to relax and enjoy it and make fun memories. But hopefully in a more eco friendly way than this poor writer. It’s a very funny article so worth a read!

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