Christmas is a truly wonderful time of the year. Despite the temperature, it brings us a sense of warmth and it allows us to take a step back from the day-to-day; to relax and spend some time with the ones we hold close. It is only right that such a special occasion should be treated with consideration. And we do… don’t we? Well, in most instances we do but there is someone at the Christmas table who has for many years had their Christmas dinner eaten right from under their nose leading to them now getting rather poorly. And the big issue is that if they’re not well enough to come to Christmas dinner next year, none of us will be able to. This member of the festive table is of course the one we all depend upon: our planet. To help you all have a greener Christmas this year we came up with a few ways to have more of a positive footprint.
Present opening is a part of the day that brings excitement, joy and a sense of appreciation to your fellow Christmas day entourage. A great moment indeed. The only slight catch is that choosing presents can be a stressful task at the best of times; who, what, why and when? Sometimes this cocktail of uncertainty can leave us reaching for an option which is perhaps a bit of a stab in the dark. Maybe they will like it, maybe they won’t. Despite an awkward thank you, sometimes presents aren’t quite right and therefore make their way to a dark corner of the house, only to be re-discovered when embarking on your spring clean. And if they do like their present, is it something that will last? How many things from last Christmas are you still using today?
Unfortunately the planet that supports our very existence finds our disposable habits a bit of pain in the neck. Well actually, it’s more like a puncture to the lung but we will go with pain in the neck for the time being.
This pain in the neck does not need to be repeatedly poked with disposable products: it is better suited to being slowly massaged with long lasting, meaningful, consciously made products and experiences. In simple terms: buy less and choose quality. A decent bottle of wine goes a long way, as does a voucher to a restaurant or a donation to charity. Some say money as a present is unthoughtful, but is it more unthoughtful than waste at the expense of future generations? Why not get your lucky recipients to send you a good old fashioned Christmas list? Then you will know that you will be buying something that will be used. If you’re buying clothes try and buy something that is built to last and made in an environmentally and socially progressive manner (low footprint fabrics and socially minded production, also remember to keep the receipt so sizes and the style can be exchanged if the colour you chose isn’t to the lucky recipient’s preference).
If you really want to give more to the planet than you take this Christmas and gift like a true environmentalist then inspirational reading, plants and seeds are your golden ticket. For reading we suggest: Let my People go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, Happy Hero by Solitare Townsend and The World We Made by Jonathan Porrit.
Wrapping paper: the beholder of surprises only Christmas day (or a midnight inspection) will bring. But, what else is wrapping paper hiding? In most cases wrapping paper is single use and often dyed, laminated with additives which are not recyclable. This means most of the wrapping paper we use simply makes its way to landfill… which is... a little on the wasteful side.
So what can we do? Try and use fully recyclable packaging such as recycled paper with 100% paper content. Perhaps some old magazines you have left over? Wallpaper, GQ?
Ahead of present giving as the focal point of the day; collective eating is a chance to connect the morning and afternoon, catch up, share stories, have a laugh and watch the more free spirited members of the table get sufficiently drunk. Great fun indeed. And after all it’s not that often that you get a chance to do this. However, through our propensity to import it’s estimated that what’s on our plate could have travelled 49,000 miles to get to you, raking up a serious footprint, so it’s worth taking time to think on how we could improve this situation. There is a simple answer to this. Buy local. And when we say local we don’t mean from your local market. We mean buying seasonal produce grown or reared as locally as possible. Farmers markets are a good place to start and if you live in a city it’s a bit harder to access local produce why not try Riverford organic? Oh yeah, and always remember to buy loose vegetables when you can and take a re-usable bag with you!
Finally we come to the centre of attention: the Christmas tree. Well, at least the centre of the room until Boxing Day where it transforms into the elephant.
Plastic fantastic trees may seem like a more environmentally sound option as they have the potential to last a few Christmases, but actually using a non-renewable, non-recyclable tree isn’t the best idea. Plastics not so fantastic after all. Christmas trees store carbon when growing so they’re are an important factor in the solution of continued existence on this planet. The best answer to this problem is to buy a potted plant. When you are finished plant the tree. This way you are truly giving more than you are taking.
Words by Bleue Wickham-Burnham (Head of Sustainability)