Last Christmas we bought 226,800 miles of wrapping paper, 5.3 million artificial trees, 6.8 million real trees and £42 million of unwanted toys. As we continue to tighten our belts, we look at ways to reduce the waste from Christmas so we can have a more sustainable Christmas, that costs less for the planet and for our pockets.
Less is more
With the average adult spending £548 on Christmas presents and the average child receiving 16 gifts, may be it’s time to consider quality over quantity. One well-chosen gift that will be loved and well used will be good value for money.
Set a price limit for each present and agree with friends and family so the present has thought rather than a high price tag. Alternatively, arrange a family secret Santa so that each family member just buys one good present each.
Consider buying an experience rather than a physical gift like an annual membership to Sussex Wildlife Trust, Wakehurst or the National Trust or book a safari at Knepp. These gifts can be used throughout the year, will bring joy to the recipient and are great fun for all the family. For children, how about getting connected to nature with a visit to Tilgate Nature Centre or Go Ape?
Our blog HERE looks at charity gifts like Bin Twinning and Adopting an Animal which are good ideas for the people who have EVERYTHING!
Christmas is for kids
Children love Christmas so why not make it all about them and only buy gifts for the children. Come on adults – you have everything you need already, do you really need any more gifts?
Christmas jumper day is coming up soon but rather than buy a new jumper, you could swap sizes with a friend. Save the Children even have a second hand jumper shop on their website.
The phrase “it’s the thought that counts” didn’t come from nowhere and there is a lot of truth in it. If you are time rich but money is tight, why not make your Christmas presents. Something as simple as some homemade shortbread or cinnamon cookies wrapped in ribbon makes a lovely present and won’t cost the earth. Here are some other ideas for homemade gifts:
- Lavender bottles and bags
- Recipe and ingredients in a jar
- Hot choc with marshmallows in a mug
- Glass jar with chilli oil or salad dressing
- Make nibbles and food for a friend – slice of Christmas cake, marzipan delights etc (this is particularly good for people who live on their own and don’t want to buy a whole Christmas pudding etc)
If all else fails and you didn’t receive the gift of your dreams, consider regifting. If you know someone who would love the gift, then pass it on rather than waste it. Alternatively, donate it to charity. At December’s Sussex Green Hub, we are collecting donations of unwanted gifts for our raffle. Bring them along and we will put them to good use.
Reduce the wrap
Once you’ve chosen a present, also consider how you will wrap it. Try to avoid any wrapping paper which is laminated or is not made from paper (that is, made from plastic or aluminium). If in doubt do the ‘scrunch’ test – if it stays scrunched, it can be recycled. Alternatively, wrap your presents in old material like scarves or pillow cases and tie with ribbon or string. You can also save last year’s wrapping paper and reuse it this year.
Or how about wrapping Xmas and birthday presents in an unwanted page out of a map? You know those maps we used to have in the car. People love it especially if you choose a page from where they were born or lived!!! Great reuse of a map, and looks really pretty with a red ribbon.
The average household throws out 24 Christmas cards each Christmas. It’s lovely to send and receive cards but consider e-cards or reusing and recycling old cards. Last year’s cards also make great gift tags for next Christmas. Sussex Green Hub on 28th January will hold a workshop from 1.30pm on upcycling Christmas Cards so keep hold of the ones you receive this year.
Make your own Decorations
Christmas decorations are often made from plastic, glitter and other hard-to-recycle materials. Invest in some long-term decorations with some fun upcycling projects like Christmas bunting or reusable crackers.
Punch holes in old Christmas cards and thread string through to make a decoration and paper chains are fun to make with the kids, you can even use their old artwork.
How about baking oranges and satsumas with cloves that make the whole house feel and smell Christmassy.
Renting your Christmas clothes for a special occasion is a win-win situation for your bank account and the environment, allowing you to be more adventurous and experiment with designer labels. Love Your Clothes has some top recommendations for clothing and accessory rental sites.
Alternatively look at shopping in charity shops, vintage shops and online marketplaces – Christmas is an ideal time to embrace this habit. Any unwanted clothes can be donated via charity shops, or at collection points in many high-street stores and recycling banks, freeing you up space and money to buy your ‘nearly new’ replacement outfit.
Families can save up to £45 by using up leftovers over the Christmas period. Meals like Bubble and Squeak, Turkey Curry and Soups ensure that food doesn’t get wasted and nor does the expense of buying the ingredients.