“Everything in excess is opposed to nature”. Hippocrates.
Overconsumption is officially outdated. Conscious consumption and carbon cutting is where it’s at.
More and more of us are waking up to the fact that the excessive consumption around Christmas is not helping the planet. It’s not just the buying of food, clothes, gifts and decorations and how we use them either - it’s what happens to them once we are done with them.
Of course the season of indulgence is now upon us. This can make it all too easy to go overboard. Food, drink, table decorations, entertaining, clothes, toys, gifts, wrapping… we are flooded by so many options we can lose track of how we might consume more consciously.
So here are some simple ideas for an excellent season without the excess.
Fake or Fir?
Real or artificial? Time to think about the tree in your life. Life Cycle Analysis shows that on a carbon basis, artificial trees are only lower in carbon than real trees after at least 5 years of use. And that doesn’t consider the plastic footprint. So if you’re going for an artificial you need to hang on to it. If you’re going for the real deal, choose from a local sustainable source such as FSC approved trees and ensure it’s recycled/composted after you’re done with it. Check out options for replanting too!
It’s a wrap!
Most wrapping paper is not recycled in the UK and much of it ends up in landfills. In the UK in 2018, it was estimated we threw away the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper after Christmas was over. Shiny, glitter-covered paper is especially bad. It cannot be recycled. Try to unwrap with care and then re-use paper for other wrapping. Alternatively use cloth bags that can be used again and again.
We’ve all been shopping, decided what we want to cook for dinner and bought the ingredients, then returned home to find half of them in the cupboard already… Christmas compounds this with the feeling we must have every type of food in the house, for every eventuality and taste. During Christmas, 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pies are thrown away each year in the UK, causing 270,000 tons of food waste.
But If you plan the meals you are going to cook, and have your recipes ready, the waste drops dramatically and life becomes a whole lot easier. It might feel an organisational step too far, but there are meal plans available online and a quick google search will get you on your way. Many also provide a shopping list.
Make own decorations
You definitely don’t need to shop like crazy for Christmas decorations. How about rolling up your sleeves, getting the family involved and creating your own eco-friendly decs at home? Try garlands made from popcorn and cranberries, potato print onto recycled paper to create festive wrapping, collect scraps of fabric to wrap your gifts and hang origami stars made from old newspaper. We think the ultimate in sustainable decorating is to create your own Christmas wreath from foraged foliage. There are hundreds of online tutorials or you could just go freestyle and make it your own way entirely.
Lease or Rent
Sometimes you just DON’T need to buy new at all… consider renting or leasing. Children in particular go through a LOT of stuff whilst young, in fact it’s estimated they create 59 tonnes of carbon every year. Instead of buying yet MORE new things how about renting items for a time? There are more and more options available now to help with this. We especially like Y’earn* who let the Yearners (those wanting to rent) meet up with the Earners (those wanting to rent out stuff they no longer need). It’s a win-win situation with no new stuff needing to be bought so the planet benefits too. *
Doing it for the kids
Around 19% of unwanted gifts end up in landfill after Christmas in the UK ** which equates to almost 23 million items! It’s all just unwanted stuff… and do we really need more ‘stuff’ in our life? Lots of families are now changing it up, for example adults buy for children but then use a secret santa model for the adults in the family. Each adult buys one gift for one other adult randomly assigned to them; it certainly keeps down the cost and prevents all those unwanted or duplicated gifts that add to the general over consumption.
One thing is certain.. .smol changes adopted by many add up to a big difference. It’s our saying for Christmas and beyond. And however you choose to consume this festive time, we wish you health, happiness and peace. Happy Christmas.
* If you want to find out more about this brilliant and sustainable company click here https://www.yearn.club/uk/babyandkids
**UK Gift Card and Voucher Association (UKGCVA). 2019