Read on for some top tips to keep Christmas sustainable.
As part of our Slow Living series, Zen D’Amato Gautam explores our options for living a sustainable Christmas.
The joy of Christmas gifting is undeniable, but Christmas is also a time of careless consumerism and excessive waste, which has a deeply negative impact on the planet. Everything can be done in a more sustainable way and this article hopes to provide the reader with some insight into enjoying a more environmentally-friendly Christmas.
Choose moments, not things
Experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. People’s satisfaction with things decreases as time goes by, whereas their satisfaction with experiences over time increases. There is a myriad of experiences you can gift to your loved ones; such as subscriptions to gyms, spa days, boat trips, trying out new fun activities like arching or learning how to fly, skydiving, an agri-tourism tour or a cooking class, a photography lesson, a scuba course, or a gardening workshop… the options are endless. Usually, experiences have a smaller carbon footprint than a tangible product, if chosen thoughtfully.
When you shop local, you do far more than get the items you want quickly and conveniently. Buying local actually stimulates the economy in our community, helps benefit local schools and charities, creates jobs, and supports small family businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Also, shopping locally is more sustainable; it cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution created by the transportation of goods across countries. When it comes to food, buying local also means fresher and tastier.
Switch to eco-friendly wrapping paper
Do you think that glossy and metallic wrapping paper is cool? Think again. They are trash just waiting to be chucked in the bin and sit on a landfill for years and years. Sadly, most wrapping paper can’t be recycled and hardly ever re-used. How about forgetting wrapping altogether and just use gift bags? It’s ok if they are metallic, or made of plastic, as long as they can be re-used over and over again. If you can’t do without wrapping, then the most sustainable option is to use plain brown paper with string – not tape. There are plenty of ways to decorate beautiful brown boxes with twigs, leaves, berries, etc. Another option comes from Japan and it is called the Furoshiki Art of Fabric Wrapping. Try it out!
Re-use and Re-purpose everything
If you have a creative mind or young children, you’ll love coming up with ideas for this one. For instance, try some origami from used wrapping paper and create new Christmas decorations. Cut out old Christmas cards and create your own puzzles, or wreaths, or baubles. Kids can do their own up-cycled Christmas ornament to gift to their classmates or teachers. On the practical side, things like empty cardboard boxes, wine bottles, wine corks, can be great for crafts, or you can always donate them to your local charity shop.
Avoid food waste
To lower your food waste over Christmas you need to plan ahead and resist the urge to buy on impulse. Use the items in your fridge and freezer by November so that you have empty space where to put the leftovers. Store food properly; most of the food lasts longer if stored in the right way. Partially consumed items should be tagged and dated before refrigerating and placed in reusable, resealable containers. Despite your best efforts, there may be some food remaining and that’s when you can get creative with your leftovers. Important to remember that by avoiding food waste, you are also saving money and help saving the planet too.
Have a thoughtful Christmas
Christmas is a time of joy and happiness. Let’s spread these beautiful emotions around us and extend them to the rest of the world and to all living things – including our planet! All it takes is a moment of reflection and thoughtfulness. Is your Christmas party going to generate several bags of trash? Think ahead and mark containers for recycling. Is the gift you are buying coming from a supply chain that is tainted with slavery or abuse? How about buying from a local social enterprise that supports women and children in need instead? Also, consider going cruelty-free for these upcoming Christmas holidays. There are plenty of vegan options nowadays that are as delicious and tasty as non-vegan meals.
Enjoy time with your family and loved ones, and remember to take some time for yourself too. Take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and on the impact you, as an individual, have on the rest of the world. Wishing you a conscious, ethical and sustainable Christmas!
Words: Zen D’Amato Gautam. Edited: Gozo In The House
For eco-friendly and sustainable shopping, you can visit Coral Shopping – a local online store curated by Eco Market Malta, exclusively featuring products that are good for the people, and good for the planet.