Tinsel, presents wrapped in glittery paper, light displays in the garden and well stuffed stockings; it’s all part of this, the most festive time of the year.
Or at least Christmas as we have known it until now. Because more than ever it feels like a vast minority of us are waking up to the reality of what will happen if we continue down the path of overconsumption. And if there is something that Christmas is - other than a lovely time with family and friends – it is a feast of overconsumption that uses a lot of energy and creates a lot of waste.
With all the joy it brings to many of us as well as guiding us through the darkest time of the year in good spirits, I have no desire to let go of the Christmas tradition.
I am however ready to create some more sustainable Christmas habits, which I believe can be achieved without compromising on the festivities. After all, Christmas is the celebration of the hearts, as we say in Scandinavia, and it is all about having a good time in good company is it not?
Here are 8 fun ways to enjoy a sustainable Christmas without compromise:
1. USE LED LIGHTS
Christmas is probably the time of year when we use the most electricity and while many people talk about single use plastic as the main cause for climate change, our usage of heating and electricity is actually a far bigger cause.
LED lights use approx. 75% less energy than normal lights and last 25 times longer, so changing all your fairy lights and garden displays to LED (or solar power) can have a significant positive impact on the climate – and your wallet.
2. CREATE SOME SCANDI STYLE HYGGE
In recent years, marketing teams at loads of furniture, fashion and home décor brands have hijacked the Danish word ‘hygge’ and twisted it beyond recognition in their marketing campaigns. Somehow, they have managed to equate hygge with expensive throws, furry things and scented candles, to name a few.
All of these things are usually in the cosy category and they can certainly contribute to hygge. However, you don’t need to buy stuff to achieve hygge – on the contrary, the moment with the greatest amount of hygge are often the ones with the smallest price tag attached to them. Hygge is about feeling happy, secure and enjoying the moment.
An example of Christmas hygge Scandi style, is when you switch the majority of lights off and play a boardgame and have a glass of wine together with your best friends or family.
3. THINK REUSE/REDUCE/RECYCLE WHEN WRAPPING PRESENTS
As fun as glitter, foil wrapping papers and shiny ribbons are, they are unfortunately also pretty toxic for the environment. Every day we are surrounded by things that can be used for wrapping presents - it’s time to get creative.
Wrap your presents in recycled paper, fabric or old magazines, and finish with reusable cotton or silk ties. For inspiration on how to wrap in fabric, try googling ‘furoshiki’, which is a Japanese wrapping method. My husband is strangely excited to trial this. As am I.
4. GET A REUSABLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Now, this is an interesting discussion; what is the more sustainable Christmas tree? A traditional tree or a tree made from plastic?
Both options have a high carbon footprint; traditional Christmas trees due to the amount of pesticides used to turn them into perfect trees, and artificial trees because they are petroleum based and doesn’t biodegrade.
If you already have an artificial tree, take good care of it and dress it up beautifully every year, making it last for at least 20 years.
If you love real Christmas trees, opt for one from a local plantation to minimise the number of miles it has to travel from field to home. Organic trees are hard to come by and may be slightly wonky, but if you have the option, then this is even better – and quite charming.
The best option at this moment in time is, in my opinion, a potted Christmas tree. Potted trees can be replanted after the festivities and allowed to continue their CO2 absorbing mission before they enter the scene again the following Christmas. If you live in a garden; how about making it a fun mission to grow your own tree?
Otherwise, there are quite a few companies offering drop off and collection of potted trees now, which is great if you live in a flat.
5. CUT BACK ON THE STOCKING FILLERS
This one is all about creating new habits. Stocking fillers, in my opinion, are often cheap tat. Cut back on the stocking fillers and buy fewer things that can be used many times and are of good quality.
The saying ‘less is more’ truly applies here – and it’s a quick win when we talk sustainable Christmas and reducing consumption…but don’t forget the satsuma and the decadent chocolate.
6. CREATE YOUR OWN ECO-FRIENDLIER VERSION OF A CHRISTMAS JUMPER
Most of the Christmas jumpers on the market are made from acrylic, one of the most polluting fibres around. Instead of investing in a new funky acrylic Christmas jumper every, create your own eco-friendlier, equally funky version of a Christmas jumper by jazzing up one of your existing jumpers.
This can be done either by stitching festive appliques loosely onto it or have fun with a bit of embroidery. Both of which can be removed again once the festive season ends.
I found some easy free embroidery patterns at Wool & The Gang. For appliques, look for second hand ones or create them yourself using leftover fabric or old clothes that is heading for the recycling bin anyway.
And, remember those LED lights? You might be able to safely blend a little sparkle into your new Christmas creation.
7. CHOOSE BAUBLES AND DECORATIONS THAT YOU TRULY LOVE
My mum choose this French bulldog Christmas bauble some years ago. This year it's my sister's boyfriend's turn...rumour has it, we may be adding a formula 1 inspired bauble to the collection!
Most of the baubles that you can find in the supermarkets etc are made from plastic, and while they are cheap, chances are that you are not going to love them long term and hence replace them more often. Instead, I suggest only buying quality baubles and décor that you truly love and can see yourself using for many years to come.
In our family, we have a tradition of taking turns buying one (and only one!) new bauble for the tree every year. I will be honest, it’s probably not the classiest Christmas tree around, but it is certainly fun and packed with much-loved baubles :D
Some of my most cherished items are decorations that we have made ourselves, however; paper stars, paper hearts etc – and if you are into crafty activities, spending an afternoon with your family making Christmas tree decorations while listening to Christmas songs and eating mince pie is the epitome of hygge.
8. GIVE A GIFT MADE WITH RESPECT FOR PEOPLE, PLANET AND ANIMALS
And finally, buy sustainable Christmas presents whenever possible. Gifts that are made with respect for people, planet and animals come with extra good vibes and have a positive impact on the world around us.
Google ethical Christmas gifts if you need ideas – or check out our Ethical Gift Edit.
I hope I have inspired you to give your Christmas a sustainable, yet equally festive, overhaul and wish you a fabulous and fun December.