At weekend I went into Manchester for my monthly creative group meet up, and also to do a bit of Christmas shopping. I don't go into town that often really, only usually once a month or so, and I was pretty shocked at how busy it was, how many shops were in full on Christmas mode (6 weeks before the day!!) and more importantly, the shocking amount of people that were completely laden with piles of plastic shopping bags. This got me thinking to what a wasteful time of year Christmas is, and so I thought I'd do a post on how we can all be a little bit greener at this time of year. I'm by no means an eco-warrior, but I do care about the environment and try and re-cycle and reuse everything I can where possible. If I at least inspire one person to change a habit, then I'll be happy!1. Wrapping! - Most people just look at the print, and what's on offer without even considering the environmental impact of their paper. The majority of papers are just that - paper, which is completely fine and 100% recyclable. However, for those who prefer a more 'luxury' package - you may usually get something like this:
Foil or plastic shiny wrapping. You can't recycle this, and it will just go into landfill - which if you think about how many people dump this stuff each Christmas, is pretty bad. You can still get lovely (and recycleable) paper wrapping, so if you want to be be green, avoid the foil!
If you get a present wrapped in this....peel off the tape, and reuse!
Along the same lines as the foil-y wrap are the plastic bows. Ugh! Yes, your pressies look pretty, but what happens to them after the gifts are ripped open? In the bin.....x 100's of 1000s the world over. Your presents will still look lovely and be appreciated just as much without bows and ribbons on! If you really feel you have to use bows, then try and get paper ones, use paper ribbon, or use textile ribbon for crafty friends who you know will re-use it for something else!
Greeting cards - If you are being super green, some people don't send them at all. Fair enough, but I like to give cards. I always make sure they are charity ones, and preferably recycled as well. Make sure you recycle envelopes when you receive them, your paper goes into the recycling bag on Christmas day, and your cards as well at the end of the season!
2. Shopping for Gifts - The fun part! Or not, in some cases. When shopping for presents, really think about what the person you are buying for would actually like, need and use. Not what YOU like, what THEY like. Also think quality, not quantity. I personally would much rather have one thoughtful gift that I will use and love, than a sack full of 'novelty' (read: Landfill) gifts. If you are doing a Secret Santa at work, good (and well received) presents for people who you don't know so well are always things like 1/2 bottles of spirits or a bottle of wine for drinkers, small boxes of luxury chocolates, such as from Hotel Chocolat, a quality notebook (such as Moleskine) or cashmere socks (which you can pick up inexpensively from places like TK Maxx). All of these things can be picked up for around £5-£10 and will be more gratefully received than a huge box of 24 different scented bath salts from the local bargain shop.
For like minded green friends and family, why not consider doing a 'Charity Shop Challenge'. My sister and I did this last year, and it went so well that my other sister is joining in this year! So, the rules are that you have a budget - for us its £10 per person, and that all gifts must be from a charity shop. This is good in two ways as you get some nice things, which is recycling in itself, but your money is also going to a good cause too.If you have a few pounds left over - many charity shops now do lovely fairtrade teas, chocolates and spice grinders, which will finish off your charity gift bundle off nicely - win all round.
Don't forget to take your re-usable shopping bag with you every time you go out, too. I have about 4 of these nylon shoppers, that I keep in various handbags. It means that when I'm out shopping - I don't need a plastic bag from the shop. There were people last weekend with piles of plastic shopping bags - like 8 in each hand. Most looked like they only had one small thing in each. Most of those people probably throw the bags in the bin when they get home. Start refusing plastic bags, and using your own and be instantly greener!
3. Re-gifting! The dreaded taboo! I personally don't think there is anything wrong with it if done in a positive way. Passing on the dreaded lavender bath salts from Aunt Frieda to your best mate is not cool. Passing them onto your friend's gran, who may actually love them is!
Does anyone actually use bath salts????
If you get presents that you don't like or want, why not pass them on to someone who WILL like them, donate them as a raffle prize to help raise funds for your local school or club, or donate them to your local charity shop. Just because you don't like it, someone else most likely will.
So there we go! My tips for a greener festive season :)