With Christmas marching relentlessly towards us, the more organised amongst us will have already started their Christmas shopping. Whether you’re doing it online or at the shops in your local area, most of the things we buy are contained within a mountain of packaging. This usually takes the form of cardboard, plastic, polystyrene, shrink-wrap, and so on. This is often even more excessive and unnecessary at Christmas when companies will often add additional packaging to reflect the seasonal festivities. After all, if you’re buying granddad a bottle of whisky, it’ll look so much better when he opens it and finds it encased in a fancy, thick cardboard tube with gold-embossed writing and a fat, plastic lid.
One thing that we can be certain about is that many of us will have way more excess, unwanted rubbish than any other day of the year on Boxing Day This can be evidenced by the huge amount of waste that you’ll see cluttering up the streets awaiting the first waste collection by the binmen post-Christmas.
Although things like cardboard boxes aren’t too much of a problem since they can easily be reused or recycled into new paper products, the excessive amount of plastic that we’re also likely to accumulate will be more troublesome. Indeed, we’ve covered the topic of various forms of plastic waste in previous posts (see here, here, and here) so with this in mind, let’s have a look at what, specifically, we can do to minimise our consumption of plastic during the festive season.
Christmas greeting cards
If you’re buying Christmas cards, either individually or in a multi-box, odds on they’ll be wrapped in plastic. Even without considering the amount of extra diesel the Post Office no doubt uses during the month of December, the plastic wrapping that the greeting card comes in will inevitably be thrown in the bin prior to the card being popped in the post box. If this is something that concerns you (especially considering the hundreds of millions of cards we send each year), there is something you can do about it. firstly, if you’re determined that your friends and loved ones should receive your seasonal best wishes via the mail, why not consider making your own greeting cards instead. Sure, it’s a more time-consuming option, but it’ll most likely be a greener one in the long run.
However, if you want to go full-on eco-warrior, why not consider sending an e-card instead? No paper, no transportation costs and zero packaging too. What’s more, most online ecard sellers usually have the option to design and personalise the card too. It’s the type of service offered on the Friends of the Earth website and you can browse their winter collection right now. There, you can write a unique message, add an optional charity donation if you wish and either send it immediately or schedule it to be sent on a different day.
Xmas wrapping paper and ribbon
We tend to buy so much of the stuff over the Xmas period; usually, more than we need. But, did you know that a lot of the paper and ribbon contain plastic? A far better option is to go for traditional, plastic-free wrapping paper instead. If you visit the link, you’ll see that mainstream outlets such as Waitrose are now selling it so it’s now even easier to buy on the high street.
If you tie it with simple yet attractive string, it will not only look better, it’ll be easy to recycle too. It’ll also have that charming rustic look, which, in our opinion is far more appealing than shiny plastic or reflective paper that looks like it’s been torn out of an old space shuttle! It’s also a completely off-the-wall option to have a go at using old, unwanted fabric if you’re feeling especially creative. Give it a try at least once – you may be pleasantly surprised at the results, especially knowing that you’ve created something totally unique.
Buy gifts that don’t contain any plastic
Aside from the packaging itself, which will frequently consist of at least some plastic, so many of today’s toys are either made of or contain plastic, typically consisting of a variety of bright colours that are made from nurdles. We know that it can sometimes be difficult to do, particularly if your kids want a particular present that’s made of plastic. On the other hand, if it doesn’t have to be a specific gift, why not try and buck the trend with something made from wood instead. If you’re thinking “that sounds like a dumb idea”, why not take a look at what Mulberry Bush has to offer in the way of fabulous wooden toys? So many of them would look great in any kid’s room. Local craft fayres are a good source for wooden toys and gifts too, but if you can’t get to one this year, there are a multitude of online retailers who are selling beautiful, well-made wooden toys.
Bathroom and fragrant gifts
Unfortunately, it’s still possible to buy a plethora of soaps, creams, and other similar items that contain harmful microbeads (microplastics), which are actThings like face scrubs are a classic example. That rough, abrasive stuff will often be teeny, tiny bits of plastic. These are incredibly harmful as they end up in rivers and oceans and are ingested by the ocean’s wildlife. They also rapidly find their way into the human food chain too as they’re not just found in water, but in soil too. So, make sure you double-check the ingredients to ensure none of the items you’re planning on buying contain plastic.
Plastic trees and decorations
If you’ve been using the same decorations and pop-up tree for years then that’s all well and good since you’ve already bought them, so there’s not much you can do about that. If you can, avoid buying new stuff just for the sake of it and hunt around for alternative options instead. for example, a traditional Christmas tree will look so much better if it’s decorated with things like pine cones, ornate twigs, red berries, and mistletoe (just make sure the kids and pets can’t eat it). If that doesn’t appeal to you, have a quick look at this Pinterest board – I bet you’ll be amazed at some of the stunning paper creations on there.
We hope you’ve taken inspiration from some of the above tips and are ready to unleash the plastic-free creative beast that lurks within :)