Christmas is a time of celebration that many cherish and look forward to. However, behind this magical holiday, hides another reality: one of excessive mass consumption.
1. Choosing the right Christmas tree
From an economic but also a sustainable point of view, buying an artificial and reusable tree for Christmas might seem like the better alternative. However, this is a misconception! Artificial trees emit more CO2 in their lifetime due to their production and transport than real Christmas trees.
Of course, real Christmas trees, even if they are better than synthetic ones, do not always represent the best option out there. They are often grown using harmful pesticides, affecting the fertility of the soil, and are mass-cultivate, cut, and then disposed of after only a couple of months. This also creates much more waste, which has to be incinerated. Furthermore, depending on which country you live in, pine trees have to be transported since they only grow in specific climates, which also creates CO2 emissions.
If you’re still keen on having a traditional tree there are a few options that are better for the planet.
Have you ever thought about renting a tree? It’s a service offered by a few companies. Your tree is delivered in a pot and, after Christmas, it is picked up, and replanted in soil, which means that the tree can then continue to grow, and the following year the same tree is brought back to your household
If you have a garden you can even buy a potted tree to replant after the holidays. Or use a collection service so they can compost it. Or a simple and last-minute trick is to decorate a regular houseplant you already own. Saves you money, time and gives a funky spin to your house!
2. Christmas Decorations
Are you wondering if you really need to buy new Christmas decorations? Taking good care of your decorations and reusing year after year is already a simple exercise that can make a very big difference.
Thrift stores and second-hand shops are also filled with a ton of Christmas decorations, especially at this time of the year, so if you’re looking to add some novelty to your Xmas vibes, they are the perfect place to look! It’s more sustainable and much cheaper too!
Another great and fun option is making your own decorations! For example, you can make garlands out of fruits, like oranges and apples, or even with scraps that you can find in the park, such as tree branches, twigs, pine cones, and our favourite - holly! Go for a Sunday walk and pick up some natural decorations.
Another tip to make your Christmas greener is to not overdo it with the lights. Yes we know, fairy lights are just incredibly cozy and instantly make any place look like a Christmas wonderland, but unfortunately, they are not the most responsible approach. Always remember to turn the lights off when going to bed, to save both money and carbon, and if you need to purchase new lights, opt for LED!
Of course, for some extra shine, you can always refer back to good old candles. They come in all shapes and colors, but we suggest going for a natural and paraffin-free candle!
If you’re in a particularly festive mood, and cannot help yourself from needing a few new decorations, do it sustainably! We offer some great Christmas decorations in our shop, everything you need to cozy up your home.
3. Transform your Christmas menu
The average person will produce 26 kg of CO2 from the food they consume during Christmas. A vegetarian Christmas would result in a saving of 3 kg of CO2 /per person. An organic Christmas (50 percent of food consumed is organic) would result in a saving of 2 kg of CO2 /per person. A low-waste Christmas could result in a saving of 7 kg of CO2 /per person.
A combination of a vegetarian, organic, low-waste Christmas can reduce your Christmas food footprint by 30%!
- Support your local shops and producers and try buying from them.
- Compost your vegetable peelings after you’ve finished cooking to make sure that this extra organic waste doesn’t head straight to the landfill. Or save them and make zero-waste vegetable stock.
- Planning your meals helps to reduce the amount of uneaten food thrown away. Count the number of your guests at Christmas and do not cook more than necessary. Also, ask them to bring only things that will really be eaten.
- The ideal thing would be a vegetarian meal. But if you still fancy some meat, whether for traditional or dietary choices, try to buy it from a local and organic butcher.
- We have a delicious vegan & zero-waste cookbook that will definitely help you with making simple but healthy meals for your guests.
4. Sustainable Christmas gift wrapping
When possible, choose gifts that have minimal packaging. For example, stuffed animals & toys, and many wooden toys are often sold without packaging.
This leaves you with quite a bit of gift wrapping left to do at home. Whether you hate it or love it, packing gifts can be time-consuming as well as very wasteful. You can invest in some recycled and recyclable paper wrapping, or get a bit creative and try the Japanese Furoshiki technique of wrapping with a fabric that can be reused.
We also offer a Christmas Gift Wrapping service. Just specify which products you want wrapped as gift in your order notes.
5. Sustainable gift ideas
Now let’s come to the most difficult issue: which gifts should you choose to have a more sustainable and conscious Christmas?
In the following points, we will give you some tips in reinventing your idea of gifts while guaranteeing that you will get a smile from of your loved ones when it’s time to unwrap!
- Secret Santa
Making sure everyone gets one gift, rather than everyone giving gifts to everyone, this will ease the planet and your wallet! The concept of Secret Santa lends itself very well to this. Everyone draws the name of a person to whom to buy/make a gift, which they keep secret.
- Gift cards
Gift certificates are practical and effective. They insure that the person you’re giving them to will get what they want, and it’s a great way to support local businesses that need it. It is also a great opportunity to discover new shops that offer sustainable products. We offer gift cards from €5,00 to €200,00 which you can find here.
- Experiences or activities
You can also try gifts that are actually an experience. These gifts are not only fun, but also give you the chance of sharing moments together. A few examples are:
- a manual art workshop ( a painting or pottery course if the person is creative)
- an escape room
- a wine-tasting course
- a weekend trip or staycation
- a cultural outing
- tickets for concerts, shows, or a sport event
- cinema or exhibition tickets
- a nice dinner at a nice restaurant
- a spa day or a massage
- a boat ride in your city
As you can see, there are many amazing activities that can be gifted and are sure to be appreciated. The possibilities are endless.
- A thrifted gift
Among the best ways to spend a greener Christmas, is to think about offering second-hand gifts. We have to break down the second-hand gift stigma. Second-hand gifts don’t mean you’re cheap. Choosing used toys and gifts is part of the concept of a circular economy, saving resources while reducing waste. Many gifts such as board games, bicycles, books, records, or children’s toys are very easy to find secondhand.
But also vintage tableware, unique mugs, adorable flower pots, timeless jewellery, and beautiful handbags. Find everything for less and drastically reduce your ecological impact. Some objects never go out of style or are destined to become trendy again, don't hesitate to go for a little trip to your local second-hand shops, you will not be disappointed!
- Photo album or scrapbook
What better gift than your best memories put together in a book? You can do it yourself or order it if DIY is not your jam, but the intention is there.
Of course, it can take other forms, assembling photos in a frame, a garland, or simply printed photos with a nice message. We promise it, these are one of the most valuable gifts you can give someone.
- Handmade gifts
Let your creativity speak and roll up your sleeves, go for a personalised and homemade gift!
Make your own body scrub, bath bomb, lip balm, solid lotion or coffee scrub. It's easier than you'd think, and adds a special backstory to an otherwise simpler present. Is your friend more of a foodie? Make them happy through the stomach with homemade jams or pickles, brownies or cookie mix jar, or Chocolate spread. The possibilities are endless.
We have to admit, unfortunately, most of the time, making more sustainable choices is quite time-consuming, it requires a lot of research, and a comfortable budget. If you’re looking for an easier solution, look no further, we’ve made it simple and easy for you: We offer several Christmas Gift boxes that will satisfy all members of your family and friends.
For example, the plastic-free starter gift box is perfect for that special someone that wants to shift to a more sustainable lifestyle but doesn't know where to start. The Christmas Essentials gift box is the perfect zero-waste gift with Christmas must-haves. But our Green Christmas box is the ultimate gift for this season with a DIY gluwhein and Christmas themed chocolate and soap bar. And we all know how wonderful it is to receive candles, our candle gift box will blow their mind (and nose).
If you want to be a little bit more original, you can make a donation under someone’s name, it’s a great gift idea for that someone that has a specific cause at heart. Here's a few ideas:
- A sponsorship of an endangered animal for your nieces and nephews. It’s a wonderful way to educate them by implying them directly (ex: donorbox.org, Symbolic Species Adoptions)
- A donation to help disadvantaged children (ex: Children International)
- A donation to the Plastic Soup Foundation who helps to fight plastic pollution.
Do not forget to add a pretty card to explain your gift choice with a message such as:
“I've made a donation in your name to (insert charity's name) to celebrate the spirit of Christmas. I know how much you care about (insert charity's main mission) and wanted to support your passion for (insert recipient's passion)”.
To summarize, having a sustainable Christmas is easier than you'd think. And it actually saves you money! Keeping your decorations year after year, not buying tons of food but just what is needed, finding your gift in a thrift store or doing it yourself. All these alternatives are better for the planet and, down the line, better for your wallet!
Visit our shop if you need some amazing gifts ideas!