This year, we’re dreaming of a green Christmas. The festive season is traditionally a time of commercialism and over-indulgence, so we’ve investigated eco-friendly alternatives to help your celebrations go with a guilt-free swing.
If the thought of making your own decorations instantly carries you back to Blue Peter and sticky-back plastic, don’t worry! It’s easy to make environmentally-friendly decorations that are simple and elegant.
For example, take a long wintery walk with the family and pick up a bag of pinecones. Sprayed with a little gold paint, these look great in a bowl mixed with battery-operated fairy lights.
They also work well piled in a fireplace to add atmosphere, and as they’re packed with resin they also make good firelighters when you do want to light the fire.
While you’re on that walk, you could also look for a dead branch to make into an alternative tree.
The ideal choice is long, slender, has plenty of twigs and isn’t too top heavy. When you get it home, remove any dead leaves and put the branch to dry somewhere warm.
Brush it down well before you bring it into the house. If you like, spray paint it silver or gold before wedging it into some oasis and standing it in a pot. Hang small Christmas ornaments from the branches.
If you’re in the market for some more tree ornaments, many companies now offer ranges made from recycled glass, paper or reclaimed wood which will last for years to come.
Where possible, choose organic and freerange products – farmers’ markets are a great place to seek inspiration.
Be as frugal as you can with leftovers – Christmas pudding can be recycled into trifle or tipsy cake, and cold turkey is very versatile – try soup, curries, pies, salads and hot sandwiches.
Unused scraps will be appreciated by hungry wild birds – mix them with a little bird seed to add bulk. The RSPB have a useful guide to what scraps are suitable for feeding.
Homemade gifts are the order of the day if you’d like to keep both costs and impact down. Presents of food such as jam, baked goods, flavoured oils and chocolates are always popular, as are homemade bath oils, salts and soap.
If you don’t have time to DIY, you can buy food gifts and hampers from local producers. Most charities now offer a range of ‘inspiration’ gifts such as food packages for deprived animals or water or education for children in developing countries, which make a nice alternative to traditional presents.
Otherwise, how about these eco gift ideas?
Handmade reindeer seed paper, Wildflower Favours
A pack of 25 reindeer, each embedded with Christmas tree seeds and made from recycled paper. These are ideal for slipping into Christmas cards or using asparty favours. This paper has been manufactured in the UK, collecting post-consumer waste from schools and businesses. Priced at £14.99, available from Wildflower Favours.
Recycled iPad cases, The Gift Oasis
iPad cases made from recycled cement bags, anyone? These are handmade by landmine victims in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and are of high quality and durability. They are lined with either grey or black cotton, and would be a gift in keeping with the Christmas spirit. Priced at £15.99, available from The Gift Oasis.
Birdcage necklace, CasSam Jewellery
This cute necklace has a birdcage hand stamped onto a fine silver tag measuring approximately 15 x 11mm. The necklace is completed with a delicate fine silver wing charm. Each necklace is hand crafted from start to finish using 100% recycled fine silver, making it an ideal eco-friendly gift. It costs £44 from Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous.
Vinyl record Christmas wreath, Betsy Benn Designs
A ‘spin’ on the traditional Christmas wreath for your front door using an upcycled old vinyl album. It’s digitally printed with a beautiful Christmas wreath over the top on one side, and a special Christmas label. £27 from Betsy Benn.0