Green Issues: Stay strong this Christmas!

I find Christmas the hardest time of year to stick to my guns about unnecessary waste and minimal plastic usage.

I’m torn between knowing that shiny bows and sparkly paper is bad, yet not wanting to miss the look on my children’s faces when they see the presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

I know small plastic toys are pretty useless and a waste of resources, but can’t help wanting to keep up the tradition of stockings filled with little treasures.

I know I should buy all my food locally and make what I can so as not to have ridiculous amounts of packaging ending up in landfill but I don’t have so much money that I can do this with all my food purchases and Christmas is always tight.

I love the idea of creating memories, not mess. All children want things to unwrap on Christmas morning, and a good way of getting round the stocking problem is to have a few little bits that you’ve picked up from charity shops, car boot sales and recycling centres, then fill the rest with small pieces of something that all fits together.

Obviously wrapping individual pieces of Lego would drive anyone insane, so how about the ingredients and tools necessary to make Christmas cookies? Or bits of wood, stones and crystals to make a fairy house?

You may have to buy something new, but break it up into bits and wrap them separately and your son can build his own ‘make your own slime’ laboratory from his stocking.

And as a tradition that was passed to me from my mother, I always include a tangerine, a penny and a lump of coal. The fruit symbolises the wish for enough food, the penny for good luck and the coal for warmth in the home for the year to come. Wrapping paper can’t be recycled, unfortunately.

I did try wrapping presents in brown paper one year, but it just didn’t have the same magical look under the tree. It’s fine for presents for adults, and looks beautifully rustic, but children like shiny things and, really, so do I.

So this year, I’m starting to make my own now. You do need time to do this, which is why I’m starting early! Brown paper can be recycled and it can also be decorated. Grab some paint and buy yourself some biodegradable glitter.

Get messy and creative! You can also save the brown paper bags you get when you do buy your fruit and veg locally, and use these too. You can even buy biodegradable paper tape with Christmas patterns on to maximise the look and your feel-good factor.

If you can buy second hand items as presents, this is great. Give a new home to books, DVDs, cuddly toys and clothes. The other thing I plan to do this year is to give memories.

My children are still quite young so I’m not sure how this will be received, but a handmade card with a promise of a trip to the aquarium, the cinema, the beach, something you can do together that won’t cost the earth and
will be more sustainable than a plastic toy is the idea.

And finally, please just do what you can to support your local farmers and producers over the festive period. I know it’s more expensive than doing a big shop in the supermarket, but it’s so important.

Even if you decide to buy your veg locally but not your meat, or the other way round, your choice will make a difference.

Laura White

Author: Laura White

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