It's such a magical time of year, and we want to give our children the most incredible memories and magic at Christmas time. But how do we do this without literally costing the earth? Everything is plastic. Everywhere you turn. And with our above-normal consumerism at this time of year the thought of having to put all that rubbish into the bin makes me just want to cancel Christmas!
Well, it doesn't need to be that dramatic. We can still have the most magical of Christmas's with a minimal carbon footprint. Here are our top tips for an Eco-mas.
Use your child's artwork from the year as the material to make your own paper chains. The kids will love seeing all their creations again and you get the added benefit of upcycling something that just, well, would have been stuffed into a cupboard (at best!)
Foraging for Holly and Ivy
Turn a wintry walk into a foraging session for the kid! Swords optional. We know all the best places to gather up sprigs of holly and evergreens, as well as long strands of ivy. The longer the ivy, the easier it is to wrap around a banister or turn into a wreath. Use the fairy lights to secure your creation, which can be used again and again.
The thought of making your own cards might make you cringe but it's really not all that bad and can easily be done in an hour. Get a potato - cut it in half - make a star or a tree shape and let the kids stamp onto recycled paper blank cards. Or use their fingers to create 'robins' on a branch. Pinterest has tons of ideas so no need to re-invent the wheel here. The idea is that any paper cards with glitter or shiny paper can't be recycled, so by making your own you're doing your bit and also having fun with the kids.
Use last year's cards that you were given as gift tags for this year. Just cut them up.
Store-bought wrapping paper is made from virgin paper and often have glitter, shiny paint, or other elements that mean it can't be recycled. Think of those massive bin bags stuffed with paper that will literally be tossed onto the rubbish dump. It's totally unnecessary. Here are 3 alternatives:
- Use brown, recycled, parcel paper. The kind you imagine tied up with string and delivered by an old fashioned Postie. It does the job and can be recycled. Use ribbon for a festive touch or let the kids draw on it.
- Use FABRIC scraps tied with ribbon. As shown below by Michelle from Attachment Parenting UK
- Use a Present Sac. These burlap sacks can be ordered with your child's name on them and will be used again and again every year. And think of all that time you save wrapping presents! More time for mince pies....
And finally, use plastic-free tape. With all the money you've saved on cards and wrapping paper you can splurge on this one.
This is possibly the most stress-inducing element of the holidays. We all want to be generous, and give the gifts of love and joy, but we're all on a budget and hate the idea of having to buy a token gift because you feel obliged and don't even really know if they'll like or want it! So we have a few rules:
For your Kids
- They need to first clear out their old toys and agree what they no longer want. You then sell these second hand on FB marketplace or Gumtree or Ebay.
- You only allow plastic toys into the house if they are second hand. Allow time to hunt for the toys on your kids' lists on ebay, charity shops and FB marketplace.
- The stocking is a plastic-free zone.
- Toilets, Chickens, and School Supplies are available to give from charities like Oxfam and make perfect gifts for grandparents
- Opt out of any and all polyanna's or secret santa's. Bah, humbug.
- Choose brands that have PLASTIC FREE Packaging - like, well the Bshirt of course!
- If you can agree on plastic free gifts with friends and family, do so early. Books are the perfect plastic free gits if you haven't time to make gifts. If you do have time, you can make all sorts of lovely gifts like bath bombs, infused cooking oil, home baked cookies, etc. It's really the thought that counts. And the planet will thank you too.
Every family is different, so celebrate what makes your family special with your own festive tradition. Ours is seeing the latest Star Wars film, which is conveniently released over the holidays (light saber is secondhand, of course).
Save up those loo rolls ladies! You can order poppers from Amazon and stuff them with chocolate, which is much better than a plastic moustache anyway.
If you think back to your best childhood memories at Christmas, it'll probably be all the family gathered round, eating chocolate, watching tv, and of course presents. But there is a way to make Christmas about more than just presents. Spending time together is priceless, and also free. So create some amazing memories by going on wintry walks, heading to the beach, getting fresh air, a festive pub knees up, etc.
We wish you all a very Merry Eco-mas this year. Ho Ho Ho.
Shop for eco and plastic free gifts here.