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If you are new to the zero-waste movement or you are already an established sustainable shopper, there are plenty of ways in which you can shop consciously this Christmas. So here are our top ten tips for a conscious Christmas!
1. Shop local
Whilst High street brands are conveniently placed on our doorsteps it’s also important to remember the smaller shops next to them that we may have never heard of or been in before. The pandemic has been hard on people in many ways and one of the major impacts has been on small local businesses so let’s make sure we can support them! Often smaller businesses, including The Package Free Larder, supply local, homemade goods far from the mass produced Highstreet products. Shopping local also keeps money in the local area allowing you to support your community. Many of these too are now operating online so you can still help support them whilst staying safe.
2. Think before you buy
When you do buy your Christmas presents and food make sure to take a moment to think before you buy. Do you really need the product? Or will the gift receiver use it? Is it made of a sustainable or recyclable material? What about its packaging? Can I buy an alternative product in a local or more sustainable way? You may even be able to make it yourself. And finally, don’t be fooled by deals! Black Friday and Christmas deals can be tempting but always make sure to think about whether you truly need the product or you are just buying it because of a deal. And when in doubt, don’t panic buy, be thoughtful and take the time to shop sustainably even if it may take a little longer.
3. Do your research
If you are interested in finding out more about where the product comes from or information about the company, do your research. Most companies have online websites, you can find a lot about their ethos in their ‘About us’ section. This can give you an insight about what they truly stand for.
4. Sustainable Christmas markets
Christmas markets may be a little different this year, with a lot being cancelled altogether but, some are now taking place online. Christmas markets can be a great way of finding handmade and local crafts and there are even sustainable Christmas markets. Make sure to check out community sites or join local social media groups for information on how you can get involved.
5. Get crafting!
Buying new shiny and sparkly Christmas decorations can be extremely tempting but it’s important that we think about what ones we buy. Glitter for example can pollute harmful microplastics into water and many plastic decorations are unrecyclable or one use. Try to avoid single use decorations by buying long life reusable ones or, even better make your own! There are many tutorials online about how you can repurpose old decorations or use old bits of card, paper and more to make your own decorations. Making one new decoration each for your Christmas tree is not only a fun family activity but also, makes your tree more personal. They can also make great homemade gifts for friends and family.
6. Choose recycled wrapping paper and cards, or reuse previous present wrappings.
Wrapping paper, sticky tape and cards can all be a huge source of waste and often aren’t recyclable. Make sure that if you can recycle it you do and if you can, buy recycled wrapping paper and Christmas cards (make sure to check out the selection of these that we have at The Package Free Larder!). Our top tip, make Christmas tags for your presents using last year’s cars you received! Or cut them up to make new cards. Be creative with how you decorate; go around your house and recover old object you may no longer use like old nail varnish, make up, milk bottle tops. You can also use fabric pieces, perhaps from an item of clothing that’s too broken to mend, or even cutting up a disused pillow case, to wrap up your gifts! Taking the glitter off your wrapping won’t take away any of the fun.
7. Avoid stocking up on food, and dispose of it properly
A big part of Christmas is about sitting round the table with loved ones and eating food, and a lot of it. The concept of overeating at Christmas is embedded in the ideals of Christmas but, maybe we should rethink this. Are cupboards being filled to the brim with food really a good idea? Of course, we should all enjoy ourselves but, how much of the food do we really need, and can it all be eaten before it goes off? Christmas food waste can be a big problem so my advice is to shop for what you need, make meals with leftovers, and any food you buy but realise you don’t need, don’t throw it away. If it’s still in an unopened condition, find your local food bank and see if they can have it. And don’t forget you can compost all food waste leftovers if it can’t be used!
8. Get baking and cooking
Pre-packaged meals and treats are often the convenient option but, if you have the time, why not bake or cook your own food? The Package Free Larder blog has a great variety of snacks you can bake and cook completely package free or, come up with your own festive package free recipe and make sure to let us know what and how you made it! We have lots of tips on our social media with recipes to make using our ingredients too.
9. Buy gift cards and memberships
If you are stuck on what to get people for Christmas, don’t worry! Why not get a gift card or a membership. Did you know that the Package Free Larder do gift cards, they could make a great gift if you aren’t sure what to buy, or want to help someone start/continue their zero-waste journey. Furthermore, you could get a membership, perhaps to a local zoo, or a donation to an animal or wildlife trust. Many animal, nature and wildlife charities such as the WWF also do ‘animal adoptions’ which could be a great way to donate money to a good cause. You can help plant trees, for example with The Woodland Trust or HIWWT, or help rescue some extremely endangered animals.
10. Connect with nature
The centrepiece to a lot of homes at Christmas is a giant Christmas tree so make sure you buy yours sustainably! If you are buying an artificial one make sure to reuse it and if you choose to buy a real tree, track where it’s come from, and make sure it is FSC protected, ensuring it’s been grown and cut sustainably. And if you are looking for a Christmas activity why not go on a wintery walk for some exercise and connect with the wildlife around you, of course, always stick to government guidelines. Winter is a great time to see robins feeding up for winter, perhaps you could help them by making your own birdfeeders.
That concludes our top ten tips, what do you think, can you add any? Let us know!
And finally… from all of us at the Package Free Larder, have a safe and merry Christmas!
Blog written by Bethany Greenman, shop volunteer at The Package Free Larder