It’s that time of year where people end up in debt by overspending on gifts that are usually not needed by the receiver and will likely end up in a dark drawer somewhere, worn or used once or else go straight to landfill. Before you start consuming needlessly think how much time or love you can share with others instead of making all material purchases. A well thought out gift that the person needs and will wear lots or will use for years is beautiful but something bought just for the sake of buying a gift should be re-evaluated for its life cycle and it’s impact on the world.

Avoid pre-packaged giftsets in huge amounts of hard plastic and cardboard wrapping that will probably end up in landfill.

Discourage the practice of secret santa in your workplace. It’s usually a financial burden where you end up spending more than the suggested amount on something the receiver will probably discard without care. Let everyone make a donation to a local charity or go for lunch or drinks together instead.

Gift experiences, instead of toys, to the children in your life. They will get much more value, emotionally and physically and will have fond memories out of a day trip to a local attraction, cinema, swimming, activity classes or a special lunch date in a local cafe or restaurant, just the two of you followed by a walk in the park or a trip to the beach.  Most of the plastic toys that were ever produced are still in existence and will outlive us all!

Don’t buy Christmas crackers – we used ethical ones from the little green shop last year but there are lots of other ones available this year if you decide you need them. Traditional crackers are loaded with plastic rubbish that will just end up in the bin.

Use brown paper to wrap your presents. It can be decorated with stampers etc so the children enjoy it too. Don’t use sellotape as it can’t be recycled. Most christmas gift wrapping cannot be recycled so avoid it. Keep any wrapping you do get and use it again for upcoming occasions. Use string / ribbons to tie your gifts and pieces of old christmas cards you may have in a drawer somewhere to tag the gifts. Use last years cards you received if you have some, to decorate this years presents or cut them up and make new cards from them.

Gift fair trade consumables. It’s a great way to raise awareness among family and friends of their power to buy ethically. Lots of chocolates, teas and fairtrade coffees are available locally.

Buy locally made crafts, support local fairs and artisan and organic food suppliers.

Shop in all your local stores for your Christmas gifts and support your local economy.

Choose sustainable brands and if you’re gifting clothing choose natural fibres wool, cotton etc or recycled polyester  instead of acrylics and polyester. If you haven’t seen the documentary, The True Cost, it’s well worth a watch and an eye opener to fast fashion. The clothing industry is the second largest polluter to our environment after oil. Even cotton is very damaging so if you can, choose organic cotton. 

Invest in one item that will last instead of lots of items that won’t. It’s now predicted that the second hand clothing market will be worth more than the fast fashion market is in 9 years!

Give a voucher for a garden centre, I got a couple of new trees this year as birthday gifts and I love them! They are a gift that will bring you joy in your garden every year along with helping the environment.

Don’t overbuy on your food list. The shops are open nearly everyday and when the fridge is rammed you will more than likely end up throwing out significant food-waste. Avoid over packaged goods and try to give all the plastic wrapping a wide berth.

It’s up to us to make well informed decisions about our purchases, avoid over consuming and to think twice every time we buy something new that may end up as ocean plastic. Do you really need another plastic bauble for the tree? :)

Have a happy healthy Christmas !

Odel