As Christmas approaches with alarming speed, do you find the rampant consumerism a bit much, and yearn to do things a little differently?
Happily, there are loads of ways that you can make your Christmas celebrations a little more planet friendly, and we explore some of our favourites in this article.
Planet Friendly Christmas ideas
Here are eight ideas to help you resist the spell of over-consumption and 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, Vinted or Gumtree, or from the numerous charity shops on your local High Street.
You don't even need to buy something second-hand - take a look around you instead. You may well have some items around your home that although there's nothing wrong with them, you just don't use, or don't like, or don't need. (But do take care that you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you in the first place!)
It goes without saying that before gifting a second-hand 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
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
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
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.
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 can be more expensive than their disposable counterparts, and cost is sometimes 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:
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
An ‘experience’ doesn't have to be as dramatic as a hot air balloon ride (although that's fine if it's something the recipient would enjoy). They can be more down to earth, such as:
Taking the recipient on a day out to a local garden or attraction
Lunch at a favourite pub, or afternoon tea at a local hotel
Gift cards for a favourite cafe, book store, or beauty therapist (this has the added benefit of boosting independent businesses)
Tickets to an event, concert, exhibition or sporting fixture
Day workshop in cookery, painting, yoga, furniture restoration, drumming, etc
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 that come in recyclable packaging rather than being sealed in plastic
Top Tips for a planet friendly Christmas
In summary, when aiming for a Planet Friendly Christmas, try to focus on gifts that are:
Both of these make great homemade gifts:
For thoughts on a more radical approach to paring down Christmas excess see:
For more money saving ideas see: