Tips for an Eco-Friendly Christmas
While Christmas in retail has started on November 1st, and often before, over the past few decades, the tradition of waiting until December 8th to kick it off in our homes seems to have fallen away this year with many decorating inside and out as early as mid-November. The bid to bring some cheer and festivity is stronger than ever after what has been an unusual and challenging year. For those who have come through 2020 thus far unaffected by income loss or reduction, a focus toward buying locally or domestically in an effort to support small businesses through to the other side of the crisis has been one of the more upbeat and encouraging outcomes of 2020. More thoughtful spending has also branched into other areas, such as buying more sustainably as well as ethically sourced goods. With this in mind, we have put together some tips for how to Christmas this year in a more environmentally friendly fashion that will both save on overflowing waste bins come January and on repeat spending in the years to come.
Buy Locally Grown Trees and Compost
The carbon footprint of buying locally grown trees is much lower than that of artificial trees which are mostly imported from Asia and are not recyclable. In Ireland, each tree that is cut down is replaced by at least one tree, sometimes two, every year. Conifers, like all trees, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and if you bring your tree to a local authority depot after Christmas, they are turned into mulch for parks, putting carbon into the soil. Buying locally and composting after use is the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way to enjoy your Christmas tree.
Wrap gifts in fabric or recycled paper.
Many wrapping papers contain non-recyclable elements such as plastic, foil and glitter, so if you are looking to be more eco-friendly this Christmas, look out for recycled or recyclable paper and tie with twine. Old maps make for great gift wrapping, as does black and white newspaper which can be decorated with colourful paper stars or roses. Alternatively, invest in some lovely colourful fabric such as cotton or silk that can be passed on and reused for years into the future.
Be creative with your decorations and consider making some yourself or with family and friends, using sustainable materials such as hemp, silk and cotton. Red silk bows and stars make great Christmas tree decorations. Some of the best Christmas decorations are heirlooms that might otherwise sit in a box or a drawer year in, year out. Tie string or silk to them and hang them on the tree or place them in little frames that can also be hung. If you prefer to buy decorations, choose natural sustainable materials such as wood, glass or brass and reuse them every year. With a little care they will last longer than plastic decorations and tend to have a more timeless look. Use LED lights which are more energy efficient.
Think About Your Clothes
Although it may be tempting, given they come into their own at this time of year, try to stay away from buying sequences or any other clothes or footwear items that are made from PVC as it cannot be recycled. Perhaps consider buying second-hand from the many second-hand clothes stores online selling clothes for all categories, ages and price ranges. There are great bargains to be had with a little time and research, and it is by far the most sustainable way to purchase new clothes. For those who prefer to shop in person, there are many charity shops throughout the towns and cities who would be welcoming of the business over the Christmas season.