The alternative Christmas guide
I like nice things as much as the next person. I like presents as much as the next person. But I am also consciously minded and try to avoid waste and excess as much as possible. This makes Christmas a bit of a tricky one for me and for everyone who tries to live responsibly. This is an article for ideas on how we can celebrate Christmas without compromising the earth, and coincidentally how we might be able to educate our loved ones on green living.
Words by Isabelle Landicho
1) Watch your wrapping!
Did you know that glitter and foil wrapping paper can’t be recycled? And for said paper to be recycled, all sticky tape and ribbons must be removed before throwing it in the recycling bin. For a more environmentally friendly alternative, repurpose old newspapers and magazines. Furoshiki is the Japanese art of fabric wrapping, sometimes I wrap presents in fabric offcuts and save them to use again. Alternatively, use my Great Aunt’s technique of nabbing everyone’s discarded gift bags to reuse for celebrations throughout the year.
2) Throwback Christmas card making
I still make people cards. Call me juvenile, but I am not ashamed of this. This year I’ve bought a children’s book from the charity shop to cut out trees from for my masterpiece. Making cards is not to mention cheaper, but so much more personal and not as time consuming as one would think. If you’re pushed for time as so many of us are, then there’s no shame in a store- bought card from an independent retailer.
3) Channel your inner child and make your presents
I am involved in three secret Santa groups this Christmas, I swear the number goes up each passing year. Gift giving is expensive, to combat this there are many ways to be creative with it. You could bake someone a treat, make them something or look in charity shops. I love giving and receiving home- made presents. A couple of years ago I made macramé plant hangers with recycled jersey from Wool and the Gang and gave them to all my loved ones. Making your presents is a really special and thoughtful alternative to shop bought gifts, and at times far cheaper. Novelty tatt is always an easy option and hilarious to give and receive, but so quickly discarded or left to gather dust. It’s hard at times but I always try and make an effort to gift someone something meaningful. If all else fails then you could always get Linda from Accounting a potted plant.
4) Tree-gate: to fake or not to fake
This has been an ongoing debate in my household. I love real Christmas trees, even the best fake ones are never convincing. But the thought of the resources going into growing all these beautiful trees for them to be discarded after a month is too much to bear. The alternative is an artificial tree, yet they are often made from PVC which is toxic and does not biodegrade. There are arguments for both sides, but if you opt for a real tree there are great companies out there such as Pines and Needles that sell sustainable trees and have lots of environmental initiatives. With all this in mind, I may have come across a gap in the market for artificial trees made from recycled plastic...
5) Adorned with plastic
It’s so easy to get away with picking up decorations here there and everywhere, come the end of the holidays you are left with a glittering heap of plastic reindeer from the pound shop. I approach the purchase of my decorations the same way I purchase my clothes- responsibly. Whilst that might have been the most unsexy sentence I have ever written, it’s never the less true. Buy decorations you will want to keep for years to come, invest in them, find pieces you really love. Even if that means your flat will be a little bit sparse this year, find joy in watching your collection grow every Christmas. Inspired by Pebble Magazine, my fiancé and I were extra and made hanging stars from an assortment of odd bits around the house that we repurposed.
6) Look beyond the high street for your presents
Shop small, shop local, look up markets near you, host a craft night, spend an evening in front of the tv making personalised beaded key chains . Whatever you do, for your Nan’s sake, dismiss the last minute dash to Peacocks this year. Below is a helpful list of websites for all your (alternative) Christmas needs.
https://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/ — A great one stop destination for anything from Christmas hampers to loo roll to fair trade candles.
https://aequem.com/ — A new sustainable e-commerce platform ‘set to change the rules of fashion for good’.
https://www.trouva.com/ — The equivalent of an online Stoke Newington Church Street (a treasure trove of excellent independent retailers).
https://www.etsy.com/uk/ — Don’t sleep on Etsy!
https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/ — Especially great if you want your Mum’s initials on ANYTHING.
https://knowtheorigin.com/ — Rated by Ethical Consumer as one of the top five most ethical companies in the world, they have great basics and they have a handy pop up on until December 23rd at Old Street tube station.