How to celebrate a low-waste Christmas - with Emma Ross from Mamalina
Can you believe it’s that time of the year again? The days are growing darker, we've pulled out our winter jumpers and we're thinking ahead to the festive season. There are many wonderful and meaningful rituals associated with this time of year but it’s also come to be a period synonymous with pressure, excessive consumption and waste. In fact, an alarming 30% more rubbish is produced during the festive season, and given that each year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tonnes of waste - that's a problem.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways we can celebrate and respect our earth’s natural resources and in this post, we’re going to look at a different, less wasteful approach to festive celebrations. It's time to challenge some of the conventions out there, embrace nature and enjoy a more mindful, more economical, equally joyful, way of celebrating.
In the UK alone, we go through an estimated 108 million rolls of wrapping paper during Christmas, and given that wrapping paper is often impossible to recycle as it contains plastic, that's a colossal amount of waste. Why not consider wrapping in old newspaper, fabric, or brown paper? Look to nature to spruce it up by adding a sprig of holly.
If you celebrate Christmas, consider your choice of Christmas tree - an estimated 6 million Christmas trees are bought in the UK alone and most of these are thrown out just weeks later. The government estimates that the nation's dumped Christmas trees generate 160,000 tonnes of waste every year so why not rent a tree or if you want to buy one, find one that’s been grown responsibly - look out for the FSC certification logo or one that is Soil Association approved.
Fake plastic trees are not a great solution (unless you already own one) - they're mostly imported from China, are incredibly energy intensive to manufacture and create more waste to dispose of at the end of the day as they cannot be recycled.
Finally, if you're using fairy lights, choose either LED lights, solar powered or rechargeable battery lights – they're the most energy-efficient – and don’t forget to put them on a timer.
It’s time to rethink the act of gift giving. Each Christmas, 4,000 tonnes of products arrive from China. Why not avoid importing gifts or buying from the giant that is Amazon and instead opt to buy gifts locally and support small businesses and your community, all the while minimising your carbon footprint? There’s a multitude of wonderful shops on the high street as well as Christmas markets happening all over the country so save the dates and get down to one. Shopping second hand is another sustainable way to shop; preventing waste, giving to charity and money-saving. Next time you walk past a charity shop, take a look inside - you might just find a real gem. Finally, gifting should be about time, effort and love so why not consider creating homemade gifts this year. Pinterest is full of ideas from DIY candles to hand cut cloth wipes and once you strike upon a good idea, go bulk and make it for everyone!
Food and Drink
Approximately 10 million turkeys are eaten in UK every Christmas - that's a lot of turkey - and given that the meat industry is one of the biggest single contributors to global climate change, why not use the festive season as an opportunity to eat less meat and opt for some the delicious winter veg - head to a farmers market for delicious, plastic free veg. If you do choose meat, go for organic which has shown to be higher in nutrients and lower in ‘bad fats’. And don’t overbuy - we already waste about a third of all food produced for human consumption but with the increased intake over the festive period, this rises even more: approximately 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million Brussel sprouts are thrown away every Christmas so please be mindful about food waste.
It's time to stop putting pressure on ourselves and on the environment and to reclaim what we love about this time of the year: Nature, good food, and people. However you choose to celebrate this year, here's to a meaningful, sustainable and wonderful festive season.
Emma from Mamalina