We often head into December with a plan of how the festive period will look, but by two weeks in we are often frazzled, overwhelmed and feeling like throwing in the towel. At this point having a waste free Christmas feels impossible and is not even on our minds any longer; it’s just about getting everything done in time. But the good news is that creating less waste is not one big task, it's actually lots of little decisions to create less waste that are easily done as they come up instead of in one big overwhelming moment.
So here is a list of all the little decisions that I am making to try to reduce my waste. Hopefully some of them will inspire you to make similar decisions to lower your waste too!
- Reusing an old, second hand, artificial Christmas tree. (If you don't already have an artificial tree you can buy or rent a real tree and recycling/replanting/return it instead).
- Buying no new decorations this year and just bring what I have already.
- Choosing natural decorations that will eventually biodegrade over plastic ones.
- I'm working Christmas Day so there will be no public transport at the end of my shift to get to visit my family. So we are driving but we are relaying our trips to see family by travelling from one straight to another to reduce the amount of driving we need to do overall.
- Choosing public transport where I can for things like shopping and visiting friends.
- Choosing a "green" food delivery slot for our online food order - necessary because of my Christmas shifts - when the delivery van will already be in the local area.
- Choosing to have a plant based Christmas (as much as I’m in control of when visiting family) to reduce the carbon impact of my food.
- Not buying lots of special "Christmas themed" food which is usually necessary and heavily overpackaged.
- Trying to buy unpackaged/wonky/local produce wherever possible
- Reducing food waste - by buying less, storing food correctly, planning for left overs, and using food scrap for things like making stock.
- Composting any leftover biodegradable food scraps.
- Cards - sending only a few, plastic and glitter free cards which have been bought locally or to support charity.
- Filling up a reusable advent calendar with unpackaged sweets.
- This Christmas jumper day I will be choosing to rewear jumpers, buy second hand, or swap with friends instead of buying new to rarely be worn again.
- Focusing on waste free traditions, like going to carol services, carol singing, having food with friends, instead of more wasteful ones.
- Just giving less. If someone doesn't need anything, then perhaps don't get them a gift this year (and that includes asking for less myself).
- Asking people what they want instead of guessing and potentially missing the mark.
- Doing a thoughtful secret Santa. Not one with people you don't really know that just ends up in novelty tacky gifts being bought. But sometimes a secret Santa within a family or close friends can mean larger budgets to get someone what they would actually love!
- Giving experience gifts instead of material clutter.
- Giving consumable gifts like food and drinks
- Buying gifts you have bought second hand. Often these can be great quality, save you money, and save items from going to landfill.
- Thinking about buying reusable items like a water bottle or coffee cup - but only if they have expressed an interest of else you may be getting them a gift they will never use, which is wasteful.
- Trying to shop locally (even if that’s a UK based online store instead of amazon!)
- Presents don't need to be wrapped in single use paper so we will be wrapping gifts in fabric, gift bags or cloth bags again this year!
- We will be using rechargeable batteries this year instead of single use ones - but if you still have some old batteries, make sure you recycle them when used up!
- Trying not to turn the heating up by using fluffy socks, hats, jumpers, blankets, and brushed cotton quilt covers. I have lots more ideas in this article.
Doing good things
- Choosing to support my local food bank financially and with food donations, as hunger increases over school holidays.
- Supporting homelessness charities (like Crisis or Centre point) as homelessness is even worse in the cold weather.
- Prioritising Fair Trade and slavery free options, as no one should have to suffer oppression or slavery for my enjoyment.