A Planet friendly christmas

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

As we stare down the barrel of Christmas, do you find the unconscious consumerism a bit much, and ache to do things a little differently?

The good news is … you can!

Here are eight different approaches to help you become a more conscious consumer this Christmas:

1. Enjoy a second-hand Christmas

There are so many options for second-hand shopping: you can buy online from sites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, or Gumtree, or from the numerous charity shops on the High Street. If you’re looking for clothes, try Thrift Plus, or Oxfam Online.

It goes without saying that before gifting the item, you should give it a good clean and repair or replace any broken elements.

2. Make it a handmade Christmas

If all participants agree, having a handmade Christmas is a really good way to make Christmas special, whilst reducing your environmental impact. You probably need to think about how this will work in practice: are you going to have to make 20-odd individual gifts for all your extended family, or will you each randomly select the name of one family member/friend (like choosing names for secret Santa) and make a gift with that person in mind?

If handmade is the route for you, here are a few ideas (depending on your particular interests and skill levels):

  • Food is an obvious option. Think biscuits, cakes, cheese, liqueurs, sweets, chocolates, jams, chutneys, and sauces

  • Candles

  • Wooden goods, such as whittled spoons, letter opener, nest box, hedgehog house, insect hotel, house name or number

  • Leather goods, for example bags, belts, wallets, key fobs, bookmarks and purses

  • Knitted items: jumpers, blankets, hats, scarves, socks

  • Ceramics: plates, bowls, mugs (if you’re not up to making your own, lots of places allow you to decorate ready made items yourself)

  • Sewn items, such as bags, quilts, clothes, aprons, table linens

  • Jewellery

  • Toiletries such as hand cream, lip balms, facial scrubs, bath bombs and bath salts

  • Plants grown from cuttings

  • Photo album or scrap book

  • Create a family recipe book

Herbs potted in enamel mugs

3. Gift consumables

These are the sorts of gifts I like to receive – stuff that I can enjoy quickly, but don’t have to find space in my life to keep long term.

The obvious choice is anything edible or drinkable! But other possibilities include, soaps, shampoo bars, potted herbs and candles.

4. Invest in reusable gifts

Reusable gifts are a great way to help others reduce their environmental impact and are especially good gifts for students or those on a low income. Reusable items are often more expensive than their disposable counterparts, so cost can be a barrier to switching to greener alternatives. Good reusable gifts include:

5. Choose repurposed gifts

Look out for gifts that are made from recycled materials:

  • Bags made from old jeans

  • Cushions from recycled jumpers

  • Hats, scarves, handwarmers from recycled cashmere (eg Turtle Doves)

  • Old furniture, given a new lease of life

6. Give a subscription

These days you can get almost anything on subscription, from magazines (physical or digital), loo roll and cheese, to toys, flowers, candles and spices.

If you decide that a subscription gift is the way forward, make sure that it’s relevant and will be used by the recipient, otherwise it’s just a waste of good money and resources.

7. Gift an experience

By ‘experience’ I’m not really talking about hot air balloon rides, I’m thinking more of local attractions or gift cards for favourite cafes, book stores, beauty therapists or theatres - things that already interest the recipient and will help boost independent businesses.

8. Choose plastic-free

But if the typical Christmas gift exchange and usual way of shopping is what works for you, that’s fine, you can still make a few small changes in order to be a greener consumer:

  • Choose wooden toys over plastic

  • Look out for plastic-free toiletries

  • Favour edible gifts in recyclable packaging

Key takeaways

In short, when aiming for a Planet Friendly Christmas, try to focus on gifts that are:

  • Second hand

  • Handmade

  • Reusable

  • Repurposed

  • Consumable

  • Local

  • Plastic free

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