Feeling festive but want to do it differently this year? If you want a greener Christmas, without the excessive plastic and waste, you’ve come to the right place! We have 10 tips for a greener Christmas that will still give you the same festive fun while being kinder to the planet.
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From the type of Christmas tree you put up, to gifts and wrapping, small changes can make a big impact on your carbon footprint.
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#1. Make your own decorations
Decorations don’t have to be complicated. They can be simple, make for hours of fun and will give your kids a great sense of achievement when they’re hanging in your home.
Taking inspiration from the song, ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’, find beautiful Christmas greens such as holly, ivy, pine and spruce branches to decorate with. Wreaths and garlands can be made from these earth-friendly materials and they can go in the brown compost bin when you’re done.
A bowl of dried orange slices, cloves and cinnamon sticks also make a naturally fragrant seasonal display. Plus, collecting the leaves and drying the fruit is half the fun!
#2. Make edible tree decorations
As the winter weather looms, staying in the bake edible Christmas tree decorations is a great way to pass an afternoon. Delicate and tasty, think gingerbread men, snowmen and star-shaped biscuits to hang on your tree. Just remember to put a hole in them for the ribbon before baking.
#3. Zero Waste Christmas trees
If you really want to think outside the traditional Christmas tree box, why not make a tree on your wall with lights?
However, for those who adore the real tree, purchase a live tree in a garden centre. As they’re already potted, you can always plant it outside in your garden, or move it to a bigger pot indoors to get great growth for the next 12 months. You will also save money and reduce your impact in the years to come, as you won’t need to buy another tree!
#4. Reuse and recycle from last Christmas
Don’t forget about the stuff in your attic. Using the artificial tree and decorations stored since last year is much more environmentally friendly than buying new ones. If you don’t have any Christmas supplies, before you rush out and buy some, ask around. Your family and friends will definitely have a spare tree, lights or decorations stored away.
Last year’s cards can also be recycled to make this year’s decorations. Cut out the images, thread through the ribbon and add what extra sparkly bits you like. Christmas tree lights aren’t very heavy on electricity but do think twice before lighting up the entire house (or street).
#5. Choose gifts with minimal packaging
When selecting gifts this year, look for minimal or biodegradable packaging. A lot of companies have made the move to zero-waste packaging, so there’s plenty of options out there.
If you’re wrapping gifts, you can use nice cloth such as hair scarfs. Brown paper or recycled wrapping paper tied up with string is another alternative. Old newspapers and delivery boxes are both a great way to cut down on waste and make opening presents more interesting. We paint the delivery boxes in festive greens, reds and gold and my daughter loves it!
#6. Source fair-trade and ethical presents
If you’d like to source some really special kids’ presents try some of these Irish online retailers who stock fair-trade and ethical toys. There are some nice gifts for kids and adults at the Birdwatch Ireland Shop, and some really great ideas for eco friendly gifts for Dads at the Ecoshop.
#7. Make some homemade gifts
Homemade gifts are not just for those of the crafty persuasion. Sweets are easy to make. Dip cherries, marzipan and dried fruit in chocolate. Present them in a hand decorated box or bag for a really unique gift – great for Grandparents and neighbours.
Here are 10 Cute Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids to Make or if you would prefer foody gifts, here are 10 Easy Homemade Food Gifts for Kids to Make.
#8. Make your own hampers
You could also put together hampers as gifts, just think of a theme or an activity and put a collection of relevant items together.
A winter warmth hamper might include hot water bottle, mug, jar of hot chocolate and some nice biscuits. A teddy bears picnic hamper might include tea set, teddy bear, paper and crayons to make invites.
You get the idea…. Put them in a box covered with old wrapping paper, add a bow and voila!
#9. Give a wild gift
As a gift for the entire family, membership for Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park or a gift voucher for local activities could lead to loads of family days out. Or how about a tree? Or an allotment could be an unusual gift that will bring months of family fun and great home grown produce.
#10. Make time for each other
Whatever you decide, have fun and make time for each other. Your kids will have the memories a lot longer than the toys.
We wish you a green and happy Christmas for you and your little elves!
This article was adapted from an original article by Jen Wallace from www.tinygreenpeople.com, the natural and eco parenting website.
Do you have any tips for a greener Christmas? Share them with us in the comments below