Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year but it’s also the most wasteful. Most presents are wrapped and most toys come in elaborate packaging- the mountain of rubbish created is hard to fathom! As with all times of the year, though, each one of us can change our habits to more environmentally-conscious ones. Here are just a few ideas.
Reuse gift bags
Even if you recycle wrapping paper, it’s still not an environmentally sound option. Metallic or foil papers are hard or impossible to recycle and all wrapping uses resources when it’s being manufactured. One great alternative is reusing sturdy gift bags. Simply tape the top closed to hide the contents and either reuse it afterwards or ask the recipient to do so. This works well within families in particular but you could also suggest it if you’re doing Secret Santa with colleagues or friends. It will get people thinking and might encourage them to use the same idea.
Turn down the heating one degree
We associate Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere with snow and cold weather. What better excuse to curl up by a warm fire? While it might be tempting to overheat your house at this time of the year, turning the thermostat down by just one degree will save you money and is better for the environment. We bet you won’t even notice the difference- even when watching your favourite Christmas films in your pyjamas.
Recycle your Christmas tree
Sustainably-sourced real Christmas trees are a better option than plastic ones, as plastic ones are made from petroleum products and even if used for years, they’ll end up in landfill eventually. Check your local council or authority’s website to see where the nearest Christmas tree recycling point is. Most will accept trees well into January, although bear in the mind that the longer you leave it, the more needles it’s likely to shed in your car!
Choose battery-free gifts
Batteries are recycled in lots of places but often they are thrown in landfill and pose a hazard to nature. Battery sales peak at Christmas time and a trip to any toy shop will show you why. While children will often want the most popular toy for Christmas, there’s a good chance that there are plenty of battery-free options available that they’d also love. Things like soft toys, activity sets, sports equipment, musical instruments, science kits, books, art sets and Lego will save you that Christmas morning “Where are the batteries?” panic!
Give experiences, not things
Do you find it harder and harder to choose presents for your loved ones? Do you feel like they have everything they already need? One great idea is to give experiences instead of items. This could take the form of tickets to an event like a concert or comedy night or a voucher for an activity like afternoon tea or zip-lining. This works well for children and adults and it’s likely they’ll remember a great day out for longer than another gift they didn’t really need. They might even discover a new hobby in the process.