Christmas is a time for family, friends and loved ones to come together.
It is a time to slow down, a time to play games, have fun and relax together. There are many temptations that come our way and when it comes to buying gifts for others and planning the “perfect” Christmas day there is a temptation to over consume. Christmas adverts from well known brands paint a picture of happy families coming together, laughing, with rooms full of gifts, glorious spreads of food and many other Christmas delights. They want us to over consume and buy their goods.
However as COP26 comes to a close and we are encouraged to be more mindful of our purchases and lifestyle, how can we make our Christmas plans in 2021 more sustainable?
Can we say “no’ to over consumption and embrace a more kinder Christmas for the planet?
Read on and learn of some simple, easy switches that you can embrace to create a full filled Christmas that is kinder to people, planet and your family too.
Or listen here to a recent podcast with Rachel Woods, founder of Coach in Nature Ltd where we talk all things Christmas, nature and shopping mindfully for our planet.
Rent your Christmas tree
Did you know that 6 million Christmas trees are discarded every year and 250 tonnes of Christmas trees are thrown away after the Christmas period?
Companies now offer a rental service where you can select a tree for the Christmas period and then return the tree at the end of the Christmas season to be re-planted, cared for and re-used the following year. There is even an option to select your tree, (give it a name with the children) and then re-order the same tree for the following year.
The benefits of renting a tree are vast. There’s zero waste and your tree will be visited time and time again by birds and other creatures throughout the year when not in use by your family. Read more here.
Or get in touch with a local farm to order your Christmas tree here.
It’s easy, affordable and good for the planet.
2. Re-think your wrapping for Christmas 2021.
Wrapping paper – Christmas used to be filled with sack fulls of discarded wrapping paper – but not anymore! It’s time to re-think the wrapping paper.
Even recyclable wrapping paper isn’t great. The idea that wrapping paper is simply recycled or thrown away by the recipient isn’t ideal. It’s a waste of resources and a waste of your money.
Here’s some simple things to think about to reduce your impact and save you money this Christmas. It can also be great fun!
Wrap with fabric.
Have you heard of the art of Furoshiki? This is the Japanese art of wrapping gifts with fabric.
Visit a charity shop and look for silk scarves or a good quality fabric. An old table cloth, curtains, blanket – there are lots of options to explore. Then use the fabric to create your own re-useable wrapping fabric.
In our house, we have been re-using an old table cloth that we cut into four pieces and re-wrap all of our gifts to share with others.
When you find your material, you can cut, sew and create your own unique wrapping and include a gift note with the present so the receiver can then either re-use the material to wrap presents themselves or pass the material back to you to re-use.
Spread the love and art of Furoshiki.
Decorate your fabric with nature too.
Head outside and collect leaves, sprigs and berries to decorate your wrapped gift or cut off a few sprigs from your Christmas tree and decorate your gifts this way. It looks stunning and will definitely create the wow factor when received.
Re-use household items to wrap your gifts.
Wrap with newspaper. Start collecting newspaper or other paper bags and materials that are given to you. Then get creative and get stamping with homemade Christmas stamps (made from potatoes) or draw your own bows on to the newspaper.
The kids will love getting creative and helping out in time for Christmas 2021.
3. Support small businesses
This is a big one – be mindful of where you spend your money.
There is something special about supporting a small business – you know that you are valued as a customer and your purchase is really valued.
There are some wonderful people creating and crafting some beautiful, original, and eco friendly gifts out there.
You may also want to consider choosing an experience for your loved ones (more on this later).
For now, here’s a few of my favourite small businesses in the South West creating a positive impact for our planet.
1. Olive and Rosie – All natural and nature inspired soaps, shampoo and conditioner bars. (Our family have been using these products for over two years now and I absolutely love them. My hair always feels super soft and healthy). Treat yourself or a friend, make the switch to reduce plastic and be kinder to your skin and the planet.
2. Hives and Herbal, Bristol based business, offering beeswax candles, beeswax lip balms, hand balms and food wraps. You can even sponsor a bee for your child or book a bee experience.
3. St Eval Candle Company – based in Cornwall, these nature inspired candles are beautiful and all natural making a wonderful gift for a friend, loved one or teacher.
4. Atlantic Blankets. – a beautiful collection of recycled blankets that bring comfort and a bit of luxury to your home.
5. Green and Blue – creating products for the birds and bees in your garden – the bees will thank you.
4. Support local businesses and charity shops.
Following on from above – be mindful of where you buy your food this Christmas and choose local suppliers. From the butcher, baker and grocer – shop local, support their business and choose healthier, organic produce.
Visit the charity shops – there are so many unique finds to be had and many charity shops also support other businesses creating a positive impact with products that are good for the planet. Visit the Oxfam online shop here or pop to your local high street.
5. Give homemade gifts this Christmas
Gingerbread, Shortbread, Chocolate truffles, cakes, homemade soaps or sugar scrubs. There are so many options for you to get creative with the children and make a beautiful gift for a loved one.
Gluten free gingerbread men – (the kids will love this one)
225g rice flour (plus extra for dusting the work top)
125g gram flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g dark soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
icing sugar, water and decorations
You can see the full instructions here.
6. Gift an experience instead for Christmas 2021.
From National Trust, to Slimbridge and Westonbirt, we are surrounded by so many fun, outdoor experiences near Bristol, UK, which are ideal for families to make new memories and enjoy some down time together.
Or book a “Nature photography experience” – a photo session that captures your unique family, having fun and embracing the outdoors.
Or treat your child to a forest school experience. The Hideaway offers a wonderful outdoor learning experience and offers sessions throughout the week in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, UK.
Choosing an experience is a worthwhile investment that keeps on giving throughout the year. It’s a gift that will be truly valued.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these simple tips to a more sustainable Christmas. Remember just by making one or two small changes you can make a difference.
Now, what changes will you make this year to create a Christmas that is kinder to you, and kinder to our planet?
I’d love to know.
Claire Victoria Bishop is a natural light photographer and writer inspired by nature and living in South Gloucestershire with her four young boys, husband and dog Bruce. Her mission is to inspire others to connect with nature and live more sustainably for a healthier, happier world for people and planet. She works with businesses and families and celebrates all things natural, capturing beautiful, organic moments on camera.