Oh the smell of cinnamon, freshly baked minced pies and Christmas Eve dinner. The gentle ting of tree decorations and the sound of Michael Bublé coming out of the woodworks for his time of year. The spirit of giving back, of being thankful, of acknowledging how lucky we are and of taking time to be present. That, is the essence of Christmas, not the gifts and the things and the money, but the people and the love and the memories.
I love Christmas, but even I know that it is without a doubt the busiest and most consumeristic time of the year, when a lot of us are focusing on the merriment and joy but aren’t quite paying attention to the non-monetary costs of our expensive splurges. But let me reassure you, that you can have a magical Christmas and still be environmentally conscious. Like it or not, we live in a time when we cannot afford not to be.
SO! Here is your guide to a sustainable, eco conscious Christmas. Everything you need to know about the best option for trees, homemade decorations, plastic free alternatives and more. Get ready to hop onto the sustainable Christmas bandwagon, and I promise you, you’ll never jump back off.
The Eco-conscious, Sustainable Christmas Start Pack:
Natural trees, absolutely: Growing up in our house, we always had a real pine tree in our living room at Christmas. It would come in early December, freshly cut, its little spiney leaves leaving a glorious trail, announcing the beginning of my favourite part of the year. We’d then all settle in one evening, carols blasting, christmas hats on, a mess of decorations sprawled on the living room floor, and within a few hours, the house would embody all the magic that I felt in my little who heart.
You can absolutely have a real tree at Christmas. The farming of real Christmas trees, throughout the year means more trees are planted which help take in harmful greenhouse gases and produce fresh oxygen. These farms in western countries also help sustain rural economies and produce jobs. They also produce that glorious Christmas scent!
Plastic tree, not recommended, unless you promise to keep it forever: Now I understand that it’s not always feasible to get a real Christmas tree. Maybe it’s not easy to have one transported where you live, or you don’t want to manage the fallout and caring for a real one.
Sometimes a plastic tree can be more convenient despite missing out on that ‘real tree’ feel. I understand that, so if you find that a plastic tree brings you more value then by all means, but plastic trees provide absolutely no positive consequence to the environment, so you have to care for it, store it properly and ensure that you use it for many years to come. You do not want to be buying a new plastic tree every year.
At the end of the day, they’re still plastic. Wherever they end up as garbage, it’ll still take them decades to vanish from the earth, plenty of time to cause endless havoc on the planet. If you have a plastic tree, please take care of it.
Alternative to plastic, let me introduce, the Alternative Oak Christmas tree: I first caught sight of this style of tree from a post on Instagram and I immediately fell in love with the simplicity and delicacy of this tree. I bought a very small one for my flat in London and it filled me with so much joy, but they come in taller ‘full tree’ sizes as well.
The tree comes disassembled and you have to set it up, but the sticks swivel on the spine, so you can make into your preferred shape and can still decorate it with lights and beautiful decorations. And it disassembles very easily so you can store it for the next year.
GET YOUR BEAUTIFUL Alternative Oak Christmas Tree HERE!
Decorations & Ornaments
With ornaments, you can either buy good quality ones, that although may be a bit more expensive, will last you for many year, or you can buy cheap new ones every year. The problem with the latter is that they’re made form a cheap plastic and they break very easily, so you’ll end up throwing them away. If you’re buying new ornaments every year this only adds to unnecessary consumerism which has detrimental effects on the environment.
Here are my favourite brands that offer amazing quality, as well as ideas for some DIY sustainable Christmas decoration fun.
I don’t know how you do it in your house, but at home, crackers were an after dinner event. We’d have them docarating the tree and all over the dining table and at midnight everyone would pair up and pop them! Followed of course by reading those ridiculous cracker jokes like ‘what do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?… A christmas quackery!’
Basically, Christmas is not complete without them! But, most of them today are made from plastic and are filled with gimmicky plastic minis that may be interesting in the moment, but we all know we have no idea where they end up for the next 11 months of the year. Worry not, I’ve got you covered.
Fairy Lights & Tree Lights
I’m the biggest fan of fairy lights so my festive season is full of them! In order to be eco-friendly, it’s advised to invest in LED lights since they use up less energy, are better for the environment and they last longer.
You should check at your local home and garden store for the most eco-friendly lights they have, you may be surprised at what you can find when you’re looking hard enough.
If you’re a Catholic, then Christmas is all about little baby Jesus alseep in his manger. Even if you’re not extremely religious, there’s something beautiful about a family nativity set, passed down from generations. Growing up we had a beautiful glass nativity set that we carefully unwrapped from sheathes of brown paper every year, and carefully lay on the hay topped tree skirt under the tree.
If you want to start a nativity set tradition, here are some beautiful sets you may love.
Glass Nativity Set
Although it’s fragile, nothing beats stunning sculpted glass and this set from Waterford is one to die for. An expense that you will cherish forever.
Wooden Nativity Set
Once again, bearing in mind that we’re staying away from pesky plastic decorations, a simple carved wooden nativity set, would be both cheaper than a glass one but just as precious and will add immense value.
Now I know you’ll agree with me on this! We all know that on Christmas morning, that wrapping paper that you spend hours perfectly folding and taping together is going to get mercilessly shredded and tossed aside. Just imagine the amount of plastic wrapping paper that gets unwrapped all over the world on Christmas morning and that gets thrown away after all the celebrations are over.
Here are some stores and brands that make wrapping paper out of recycled materials using environmentally friendly vegetable inks. And of course, at the end you’ll find some DIY ideas for alternatives to wrapping paper.
Alternatively, you can always work some magic with some brown paper, some old magazines or calendars, some fabric, some markers and some twine. Instead of using ribbon, you can wrap your gifts with some twine and stick on some orange slices, draw some fun pictures or write some quotes and make the gift that much more personal.
With every gift or thought at Christmas, we attach a card to share our words of love and best wishes. With the introduction of Ecards, one has to wonder if the days of physical cards are coming to an end. But I like to think not!
One of my things is homemade Christmas cards. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child and continue to do now into my adult days. It’s more personal and you can source your card paper from your local supplies stores.
Alternatively, something that I found and wanted to share are these beautiful UNICEF recycled cards. We must never forget that Christmas is about giving back and thinking about those in the world who aren’t as fortunate as we are.
The proceeds for each set of these cards that you buy goes towards a different cause. For example, a single set of cards could go towards 4 doses of the measles vaccine or enough vaccine to protect 8 children against polio.
Head on over to their website and help make sure that a less fortunate child will have a healthy and hopefully happier Christmas and New Year.
You don’t have to implement every single one of these to have a sustainable, eco-conscious Christmas, just one of these things could go a long way to reduce the negative impact that the festive season unfortunately does have on the planet. You don’t have to do it all, take it bit by bit and do the best that you can.
You may just end up loving Christmas more knowing that you were able to enjoy it while making environmentally conscious decisions.
Remember that at the end of the day, Christmas is not about the material things. It’s about loved ones and family, it’s about giving back and it’s about teaching children kindness. It’s about a tiny bit of magic in an often crazy and scary world.
Sit back, grab some minced pies and I can’t wait to see what this festive season has to offer us next.