Discover how to ease off on rampant consumerism and save the planet’s natural resources without being a Scrooge at Christmas. These heart warming tips, from ‘Friends of The Earth’, help us celebrate a greener festive season.
It can feel like an annual dilemma. A real Christmas tree seems a more natural choice, but up to 8 million of them are bought every December in the U and round 40 million Christmas trees are cut every year in North America, of that number between 3 and 6 million are cut from Canadian Christmas tree farms and native pine and fir stands annually. That’s a lot of intensive production, and potentially a lot of waste.
It’s true that fake plastic trees last for years – and nowadays they can look very realistic. But they do take enormous amounts of energy to manufacture. And it’s yet more synthetic waste to be disposed of in the future.
So let’s look at the options in more detail.
1. Artificial trees
If you’ve got a fake tree already, keep using it – make it last as long as possible. But look into more environmentally-sound options when it eventually comes to replacing it.
If you do want to get a fake one, for whatever reason, try Kijiji, Amazon or eBay.
2. Real trees
If you want to be reassured that your tree has been grown sustainably, not in a way that’s environmentally damaging, look for the FSC-certification logo. If you want a tree that’s certified as organic and pesticide-free. If you’re struggling to find a tree farm that offers this, let them know how important it is to you. Band together with like-minds to drive the message.
3. Grow your own
Buying a potted tree with roots lets you grow it outside and use it again next year, reducing its environmental impact and costing you less. They do need some looking after, and you’ll need a big pot. Read these expert tips on caring for Christmas trees in pots.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling a bit radical or non-traditional, get a large perennial indoor plant – like a yucca, palm, fig etc – and just decorate it at Christmas time.
Get creative. Home-made crafts or foods are lovely alternatives to the usual shop-bought stuff. Or, if you’re really trying to cut back on the consumerism, why not offer to do something nice for someone instead?
4. Eco-hero gifts
If you’re buying presents the World Wildlife Federation shop has a fabulous Wildlife Adoption program. When you donate, you symbolically adopt an animal or make any purchase, you’re giving an extraordinary gift while supporting WWF’s conservation efforts. You get the cutest little plush animals. You can also get apparel, toys and games. Click here to check it out.
5. Buy locally made
This Christmas embrace the maker movement. If you can’t make something yourself, then purchase from a local artisan. They’re easily found at local Farmers Markets and Flea Markets. It may seem counter to buying local, but you can find and develop relationships with artists online, through sites like Etsy and Facebook.
6. Free gifts
Why spend money if you don’t have to? Pledge to do something nice instead. Free Christmas Gift Cheques are a lovely way of making your time the thing that counts. Offer to clean house for a month, do laundry or cook dinner for a week, or promise to spend uninterrupted time together. You can probably some up with something much more original.
7. Wrapping it up
Most of us re-use gift bags and coloured tissue, but there are some other cool gift wrapping techniques to keep us from using the traditional printed wrapping paper that cannot be recycled. Use printer or mailing paper and stamp the paper or paint your own designs on it for that extra touch. Finish off with a colourful ribbon, gift tag and a sprig of boxwood to add holiday flair.
The Japanese Furoshiki technique, using a vintage silk scarf and/or cotton fabric remnants is an attractive way to give a gift. Buy vintage scarves from consignment shops which can also do double duty as a gift. Wrap a wine bottle with a tea towel instead of a gift bag for two gifts in one. It’s easy! Tie two opposite corners of the cloth in a knot. Repeat with the remaining two corners.
Reusable fabric bags also look great and are also easy to reuse. You can stamp or paint your own designs on them for that extra touch.