Lower Your Plastic Use This Christmas
Last year David Attenborough and Blue Planet 2 showed us the devastating effect of plastic on the environment, particularly on oceans and marine life. And organisations such as Wildlife and Countryside Link estimated that in 2017 alone we threw away around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging (the equivalent weight to 3.3 million emperor penguins).
So here are some tips on enjoying a festive season that cuts your plastic waste, hopefully without increasing your stress-levels!
There’s no clear-cut answer to the Christmas tree dilemma. If you have a plastic one, you can use it year on year, yet it takes enormous amounts of resources to create in the first place. While a real one, while natural, is usually intensively produced then wasted after just a few weeks. Friends of the Earth recommend these tips:
• If you already have a plastic tree, make it last as long as possible, and look into more sustainable solutions when you replace it
• If you get a natural one, try to buy a rooted one that will last longer than one year, or see if there are rental schemes in your area
• If you need to dispose of your real tree, take it to be shredded (most councils offer this service) so it can be re-used as woodchip mulch or compost.
Alternatively, you could get creative and decorate a large house plant, or make your own egg-box tree construction as a centre piece for your home.
Decorations and Gift Wrap
Most Christmas wrapping paper contains plastic, especially if it looks shiny or metallic. Choose plain brown paper instead, and either customise it by getting the children involved in potato printing or doodling Christmassy designs, or go classy with string, ribbon and sprigs of winter foliage.
Alternatively, wrap your presents in fabric, such as scarves, muslins or play cloths, so the wrapping can be used over again.
Rather than buy new Christmas decorations use what you have, source second hand or make your own. We will be sharing some Christmas craft ideas on the blog next week – for now, stock up on string, orange peel, pine cones and wintry foliage!
With young children, there’s often little chance to get away from the allure of the latest trends, many of which will involve plastic, both in the packaging or the toy itself. But there are lots of other ways to give gifts at Christmas, whatever the age of the recipient:
• Gift experiences rather than things. Offer theatre vouchers, a trip to the beach, or membership of a sports club to families – or babysitting vouchers to parents!
• Make your own: if you can knit, bake, craft or cook, consider making a personalised gift. These are often more treasured than shop-bought versions.
• Buy second-hand. Whether it’s from high street charity shops, ebay or other online selling sites, it’s now easier than ever to find high quality second hand items, reducing waste. Let others know that you would prefer second hand for you and your family too, as there can be a stigma about not buying new.
• Buy high quality. Good quality clothes (such as the Kozi Kidz range of waterproofs, base layers and accessories!) will last far longer and reduce waste in the long-run if they are passed on to other recipients.
• Support charities: either through subscriptions or through buying gifts that donate proceeds to a worthy cause.
Where possible, buy food without plastic wrapping. As awareness about this issue is growing, many supermarkets are trying to reduce their packaging. Or go to smaller, independent shops and take your own containers for items such as nuts, fruit and baked goods. Have a baking session with the kids and make your own mince pies, biscuits and ginger bread where possible.
Aim to reduce food waste by buying what you need, not an excess, and make use of leftovers for stews, curries and soups rather than throwing away. The Love Food Hate Waste website is a great resource for reducing the amount of food thrown in the bin.
We’ll be back with more Christmas ideas next week, but for now, we hope you’re starting to feel merry! Don’t forget to wrap up warm – check out our accessories range for some high quality, useful and cheerful stocking fillers too!