From as early as September the count down to Christmas starts.
As soon as we wave goodbye to the summer we look forward to the coming Christmas festivities and all of that it has to offer. We are all suckers to it really, even the scrooges out there that don't want to buy into it, inevitably will!
In the mist of all the booze, chocolates and bath bombs I think we can sometimes loose track of what Christmas is all about. I’ve put together a post to get you thinking about Christmas a little bit differently, what exactly it means to you and perhaps some small changes you can make to make it a little less wasteful and prehaps a little less stressful too.
You've still got time!
Firstly, the food..maybe the most important part of Christmas!
We all like to go big with food at Crimbo. Getting out those cheese boards and boxes of choccies. The supermarkets know this too and will start with their displays earlier and earlier to make sure we don't forget to stock up and spend lots of money at their stores....and we may fall into the traps every year. Christmas is all about indulging...It's the one time of the year we go "ah fuck it, it's Christmas right?" But we all know it can get a bit excessive, so can we do Christmas without spending fortunes and generating lots of waste?
So, food-wise, what changes can you make to ‘do Christmas’ a bit more 'sustainably'?
Well... Just being a bit more aware of what we are buying. Check labels! We all saw the Iceland advert last year with the orangutan and palm oil right? So trying to avoid products with palm oil in is a good start. Not that we are biggin up Iceland but they have supposedly released a plastic-free, vegan and Palm oil free range of Christmas party food... Which, if you are a fan of the Christmas nibbles could potentially be a good option as it cuts back on the factory farmed meats. To be honest there is a lot of vegan/plant based/ veggie ranges in the supermarkets now. So there are a lot of meat-free options that can be explored.
But what about for the carnivores out there? Well, if you can buy less but better quality meat that's amazing. You could perhaps try out some of the veggies options too... you probably wouldn't even notice the difference. It's just about being open-minded and trying new things and there are some really good options around.
Now for cheese! Very important part of Christmas right? Have you thought about giving the farm shops and farmers markets a visit to see what they have to offer? You could try to get produce from a local or independent farm so you are not only helping out a small business but the animals are more likely to have been treated a bit better!
What about vegan cheeeese?.... There's a lot out there, some awful and some great. Last Christmas I bought some vegan faux graux and rouille style cheese from a small independent business called I am nut ok and it was incredible and you don't feel like you're missing out at all when the after dinner cheese, crackers and pickles come out! A lot of places are selling vegan cheese boards now too.. so you could give 'em a try this Christmas..
Now on to a topic close to my heart..Food waste
So what about it ?? Food waste and surplus food is such a big big issue especially around Christmas time. Because as you can imagine the supermarkets have to meet the mass demands of us the consumers and a lot of the food doesn't even make the shelves as its being imported and goes bad before it enters the supermarkets. Not only this, but every Christmas British consumers throw away an estimated 2 millions turkeys, 74 mince pies and 5million Christmas puds according to Unilever and Love food, hate waste.
So what can we do about it ? Well for a start... Planning! Planning what you actually need, not mass stocking up the fridge and cupboards "just in case" or because you've been sucked in to the supermarkets advertising. You can always buy more. The shops are not going to run out now are they. This means you know what you have in the fridge and are more likely going to be able to avoid food spoilage and waste.
Leftovers! I love leftovers!
Leftover sandwiches and bubble ‘n’ squeaks are a big part of Christmas too right? So make sure you're eating up everything after the big day. You could even think about boiling up the veg and Turkey scraps to make a banging stock! Anything that may not be used...freeze, you can pretty much freeze anything, just make sure you're labelling so you don't come across an unidentifiable freezer burn special in the bottom of the freezer from Crimbo circa 2011.
Perfect 'leftovers' soup recipe
Now, on to the gifts!
Here are some tips on doing Christmas gifting more sustainably.
Gift buying is a big part of Christmas and it can get a bit stressful and a little bit silly at times.
We've all been there...
the last minute stress buying a few days before Christmas,
the stressing if someone buys you a present you hadn't even thought about getting something for,
the have I got them enough presents stress.... do I need to get them something to “open” on the day.
No, no...you really really don’t.
Christmas is a time for giving and we all want to spoil our loved ones with the best gifts. So how can we do gifting a little more sustainably and without spending fortunes?
Well, here are some ideas...
-giving memories: getting tickets for something.. a show, concert, gigs, activity or making vouchers for a day out, experience or dinner where you can spend quality time with the person you're buying for or you are giving them something they will really appreciate. We could all spend a bit more quality time with each other so I always think this is a great and thoughtful gift idea!
-look for handmade, crafted gifts from small businesses, individuals or making gifts yourself instead of supporting biiig rich companies (cough cough Amazon) that don't need to get any richer…
-homemade hampers make your own chutneys, jams, pickles, sweets, truffles ect.. they’re a lot easier to make than you think! So many options this time of year, and lots of thought behind it which is always appreciated.
-Scout depop, eBay, Etsy, have a search on Instagram to find some small online shops or go to weekend markets .. luckily it’s only November so you've still got some time. Plus it’s a lovely experience in itself… take your resuable cup and get yourself a mulled wine, get a bit tipsy and seee what happens
-shop preowned... vintage, retro finds from flea markets, go to fairs, boot sales and charity shops you can find some great things and they have so much character.. why do we need to buy new all the time?
-some other sustainably gift options can be books, records, candles, plants, photos, photo albums, scrap books..
-when buying new think quality over quantity .. Buying gifts that will last, spending a bit more money on better quality gifts
you don't need to keep buying and buying for people so they have "something to open".
- give a donation to a charity instead.. you may not need something as much as somebody else right?
Eco friendly hamper ideas
Right .. Next, on to wrapping..
Did you know most Christmas wrapping paper isn’t recyclable !?
If wrapping paper is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it which a lot does around Christmas it is not recyclable.
If its unlaminated paper-based wrapping paper or pre-recycled wrapping paper its usually recyclable.
But, before recycling, remove any sticky tape and decorations such as ribbons and bows as these cannot be recycled. Just take a bit of care, its just another mass waste we generate especially around Christmas.
Eco alternative wrapping ideas..
Look for FSC (forest stewardship council) certified wrapping paper and cards if you're buying new.
Make your own or look for Christmas cards in charity shops new or old cards. At least you're donating to a good cause too.
You can swap to eco-friendly old school vintage style brown paper wrapped up with jute string, cardboard boxes decorated with stamps, ivy, dried orange etc., jars, reusable totes/shopping bags, material wrapping that can be used again, recycled news paper/mags/ reused wrapping.
You can also get plastic free tape! Mines lasted me a solid year and jus still going strong
Finally Festive frocks!...
You don't necessarily need to be buying new to get yourself a fancy festive frock...
Some sustainable fashion alternatives..
-clothes swaps with friends
-eBay, depop, asos market place… you can find brand new on them too.
If you are buying new think about quality pieces that will last you longer than a season. Don’t worry about being an outfit repeater, skip a year and no one will even notice.
You could also always look for more ethical brands or shop small businesses… topshop, primark, h&m and zara don’t need any more of your money plus you can generally find unique one off pieces that make you feel special