10 Ways To Have A More Conscious Christmas
Christmas is one of the most indulgent times of the year, in more ways than one. Georgina Wilson-Powell, the founder of sustainable Christmas market pebblefestive, shares her top 10 ten ways to have a more conscious Christmas from having a real tree to ditching gift wrap.
1. Stop with the luxury advent calendars
Seriously, it’s crazy. I know you won’t like me saying this but you don’t need a gin bottle a day or a new bit of make up every day of December, just as I don’t need to blow £500 on essentially a marketing ploy. If you’re trying to cut down your plastic use, advent calendars are stacked full of single-use – from miniature bottles to see-through trays of individually wrapped chocolates. Why not spend the money on something you’ll treasure all year round?
2. Buy a real tree
In the annual debate over whether a real tree or an artificial tree is more green, I always come down on the side of real. Fake trees are made from petroleum-derived products, they’re usually made halfway across the world and they don’t decompose in landfill whenever you do decide they’ve had enough. Real trees are mostly grown in for purpose farms in the UK, that replace each one that gets cut down and each one takes around seven years to grow. During that time they’re capturing CO2 and use ten times less resource than Christmas tree making factories.
3. Actually recycle
Who else ends Christmas with piles of wine bottles, biscuit boxes and selection pack cardboard stacked by the back door? Green habits tend to go out the window at Christmas, especially if you’re not at home or you have lots of people staying, but really making an effort to recycle will make a difference, and it might encourage other people under your roof to make a change.
4. Eat more veg
Yes, Christmas is a time for turkey, pigs in blankets and baked ham but we are where we are planet wise. Most of us are aware that eating more meat-free meals is the way to go. Luckily, there’s never been a better range for veggie and vegan eaters for Christmas, from vegan food boxes from Abel & Cole, vegan hot chocolate from Divine Chocolate and so on. Even if you don’t want to give up meat for the main event, think about where else can you cut back and swap to a plant-based option. Is this prime time for you to convince Great Aunt Hilda that vegan burgers like Beyond Meat taste just like the real thing?
5. Stop using paper gift wrap
Did you know that we get through 3,000 miles of gift wrap each Christmas? It’s paper right, so it can be recycled. Wrong, most of it either never makes it to recycling or gets rejected because it has Sellotape on it (what gift wrap doesn’t) or it’s metallic or glittery. Swap paper for fabric and get to grips with Furoshiki, otherwise known as the Japanese art of fabric wrapping. It’s simple, non-plastic, reusable and looks gorgeous.
6. Do you really need all that?
We all go crazy in December, loading up trollies and online baskets with enough food to last us to Easter. While no one’s asking you to Scrooge it up on the food side this season, a bit of meal planning and a stricter shopping list can help reduce the five million tonnes of waste each Christmas. Apps like Too Good To Go (where you can pick up surplus food from cafes and restaurants on the go – great if you’re travelling over Christmas) or Olio (where you can share leftovers with neighbours and your community) can also help you wage a war on waste and get your halo shining).
7. Slow down with the gifts
Or rather just pull back a bit. Apparently most of us, deep down, prefer hanging out with family and friends over the gift-giving bit so can you limit what you spend or buy? There are two ways to be more conscious around presents – make something rather than buying it (edible presents are never returned) or use your money to support independent and ethical brands who often get forgotten in the big Christmas shop).
8. Swap gifts for giving time
If you want to opt-out of gifts altogether, can you give an experience rather than a physical present (which could be hanging out with you more), or donating your time or skills to help a local project or charity.
9. Be present
Talking of presents, being conscious isn’t just about buying less, or not indulging, it’s about doing it in a way that values what we have now and considers more carefully what your hard-earned money is spent on. Being present at Christmas can be tough when there are political divisions, sibling annoyances or irritating in-laws but putting down the phone, parking cynicism at the door and being a sporting loser at Monopoly can help you value what you have, not what you don’t.
10. G0 to pebblefestive!
On Saturday 30 November, pebblefestive will be taking over Flat Iron Square for a huge conscious Christmas market, plus inspiring talks and workshops. Brought to you by Dopper water bottles, Abel & Cole, Too Good To Go, Freedom Beer and Bagboard, pebblefestive kicks off your sustainable Christmas season.
Pop down for beer tasting and vegan hot chocolate, a secondhand Christmas jumper rail, fab gift wrapping workshops and a huge surprise from Oatly. The first 50 people through the door will get a special goodie bag packed full of ethical samples.
£7.50 advance tickets, under 12s free, limited tickets available on the door. Click here to purchase your ticket.
Georgina Wilson-Powell is the founder of pebble, your stylish guide to sustainable living. She writes, gives talks and organises events around #EverydayActivism.