The 12 Steps to a Greener Christmas
The Christmas lights may blind us with an array of beautiful, flashing distractions. Christmas dinner can send us into a sedentary slumber and the month of preparation for this festive holiday, well, may pull the winter woollies over our eyes. It is quite easy to let the festive season take over, not just our weight but our train of thought too.
Seeing such spectacular Christmas displays, feeling the pressure to get your Father-in-law’s uncle’s sisters’ daughter a present and of course all during a Global Pandemic. One day you were listening to a podcast about the “Universe and why we are all here” and the next all you can here is the sweet sound of Mariah Careys “All I Want for Christmas” whistling through the air. We get it, and we are here to help you get back on that sustainable track or even just to give you a few tips to make your Christmas that little bit greener.
1. Give the gift of an experience. A weekend away, a voucher for their favourite restaurant, concert tickets, a tour to a whiskey distillery or go sky high with flying lessons.
2. Give a gift with a personal handmade touch. Making homemade jams, chutneys and a good old Christmas cake. You can also re-use the wool from old jumpers to make new ones.
3. Avoid buying over-packaged items and re-use your last year’s gift bags, wrapping paper or ribbons.
4. Personalise the gift by making the wrapping yourself. For example, re-use fabric for wine bottle bags or newspaper for wrapping.
5. Make your own Christmas crackers from toilet rolls, which can generate a few hours of fun distraction for the kids. You can also create your own decorations using old jars, bottles, fabric and newspaper which can fill up a boring Wednesday afternoon. Pinterest has lots of great examples and there are hundreds of “how to” videos on YouTube.
6. Re-use and upcycle biscuit and sweet tins to use as storage containers the rest of the year. (We all remember the disappointment as a kid when you find a tin of Roses filled with sowing equipment or nails, bolts and screws rather than the colourful array of chocolates). Our parents did it. why can’t we?
7. Use rechargeable batteries and ensure any regular batteries are recycled. Many local Libraries and supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi have battery bins.
8. Gift Cards – Now days you can get a gift card for smaller businesses, look to local suppliers to see if you can support them via a gift card or gift handmade products with an Etsy gift card and second-hand products with a Thriftify gift card and support local Irish charities.
9. If you have a real Christmas tree, please recycle it at a designated tree recycling centre. Even better, if you do buy a real Christmas tree this year, try buy a €20 tree to be planted by “The Wolfgang Reforest Mission”. To help the reforesting of ancient Irish woodlands and the re-introduction of Wolves.
10. Kick start a loved one’s journey towards sustainability with a gift that keeps on giving. A bamboo cup or toothbrush, an eco- friendly Bee House Hotel for your niece or nephew, fab coffee for the coffee lover in your life or a travel kit for those on the road... the options are many and you can inspire others to start their sustainable journey.
11. Heading out for that “Chestnut Praline Latte” in your local coffee shop, Well do not forget your reusable coffee cup.
12. Use your Christmas dinner leftovers in other recipes, you can find all these recipes online packed with festive flavour, from stir-fries to pies.
By introducing these small steps, we can change our festive mindset and make better choices over the Christmas holidays. Already, over the past year data was released by the non-for-profit organisation, Repak. Studies show that in Ireland this year alone, waste from online stores increased by a staggering 2,953 tonnes (25%), the equivalent of 9 parcels per each household. These figures released have not yet included the foreseen damage that the Christmas holidays will soon cause. “Packaging” being yet another bullet point on the “waste list”, which is getting longer than Santa’s at this rate.
The wasteful season can generate a large scale of unnecessary purchasing of festive food, Christmas Tree decorations, extensive use of the serial offender - Glitter, battery waste and of course, the comical waste of Christmas past and present - the Christmas Cracker. And this does not include all those unwanted Christmas socks!!!
Some of these decorative super festive items are made with micro-plastics which are extremely destructive to the environment. The Repak organisation are also advising people that not all wrapping paper can be recycled, with plastic-based wrapping paper or heavily sellotaped wrapping which is not suitable for recycling. So, as you can see there is a lot more to think about than getting your Father-in-Law’s Uncle’s sisters’ daughter a present this holiday season. Maybe start your December by looking up www.mywaste.ie to figure out what to do with your seasonal waste and make those small steps to make a big change.
“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind” – Valentine Davis, Miracle on 34th Street.