Can Christmas gifts and decorations really be waste-free and still bring you and your loved ones some joy? If you want to give someone a goat this year, go right ahead. I personally think it’s an incredible gift but it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But seriously, if you want to, go buy that goat for someone who needs it in Vanuatu, I’ll wait right here :).
For those of us who have relatives who wouldn’t be as stoked as I would be, here is a guide on how to have a waste-free Christmas. I genuinely hope it gives you some ideas or makes you rethink the choices you might have made in the past.
And if you get some time, go see the Australian film 2040. If you’re feeling the Climate Change blues like the rest of us, it will give you some much-needed hope.
Wrap It Up Already
Wrapping paper is a huge waste. My Mum would always reuse what she could but the vast majority of discarded paper would go in the logburner or rubbish. Since most wrapping paper is plastic coated (shiny = plastic), it’s generally not even recyclable. Feel free to grab some recycled wrapping paper if you want to make a compromise but for me this is when I get creative.
You may have already heard of furoshiki (a Japanese tradition of wrapping) and last year I gave it a go. I ended up going to some op-shops and buying some thin scarves, which was a great way to get something that my relatives could reuse or pass on with their next gift. You can look online and find some techniques to do this so that it looks incredible (featured below). Or you can lean in to your slightly disheveled brand (that’s me!) and just go for it.
Another idea is to purchase a gift that is already sitting in it’s own wrapping like our Christmas Cracker (with hand cream inside). Or our Skin Essentials Holiday Pack which is a is a gift pack within a cute copper tin. Both gorgeous and reusable!
Yes you can find recycled cards, but remember that if they have a shiny coating then they can’t be recycled again. And who knew that the inks used to print cards can be terrible for the environment too? It’s a bit of a mine-field to be honest and a bit exhausting. My recommendation would be to go to your nearest craft store, purchase some card and make your own.
Instead of sending off 100 cards, perhaps also think about selecting just a handful of your closest family and friends. Then actually take the time to write a short and meaningful letter inside. With less cards you can take your time to think about what you’d like to personally say.
We’ve all received loads of ‘Merry Christmas! Love…” cards throughout our lives. Sitting down and spending some time thinking about why you’re grateful for the support you have in your life can actually make you happier too. It’s been scientifically supported that taking time in your life to think about what and who you are grateful for can elevate your levels of general happiness in your life. So a card to someone you treasure, that also makes you feel good is a gift that just keeps on giving.
Every year I see that many department stores have a sale on decorations and have begun playing the usual Christmas pop tunes in October… I probably sound like a Grinch but one day I’ll bet they’ll play Mariah Carey in July! The covering-your-house-in-lights is an American tradition that seems to have swum over here in recent years. Yes it’s very pretty but not incredible for the environment (excess power + plastic lights). :/ Maybe scale back and simplify it with just one solar-powered lighting feature. After-all, less is always more right?
To get into the Merry Waste-Free Spirit, I have begun creating a yearly wreath made from the bendy branches of our tree. It’s sustainably sourced (it grows back) and looks super festive with a few baubles that I inherited from my family’s Christmas decoration box. Plus it means I’m not buying more stuff that I just don’t need.
The Christmas tree is a similar challenge. Sometimes I make a tree from our books or old Christmas cards, but this year we’ve been gifted a real one from a family-friend who grow them on their property. In terms of waste-free decorations, if you don’t have old ones you can upcycle then there are lots of tutorials online for biodegradable options. My Mum used to pop popcorn and give us a needle and thread. It’s easy to create a pretty line of popcorn to string around the tree.
You can also bake cookies and string them up on the tree if you’re really keen. If you have kids or grandchildren then it’s something you can do together. Gingerbread works well because it goes so hard and lasts quite a long time.
Making waste-free or eco-friendly decisions during Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. It’s simply about getting a little creative and taking the time to think about what can be changed around. Good luck and if you use any of these ideas, please do send us a photo of the finished product!