Sustainable Christmas Shopping: A Brief Guide
It’s that time of year again! Christmas looms and although we can all agree it’s going to be a very different kind of holiday this year, one thing remains the same: Christmas shopping. Whether you’re doing it all online or navigating the post-lockdown crush at the shops, it’s important to keep sustainability in mind. So, I’ve put together a brief guide to sustainable shopping that will hopefully help you lessen your impact on the environment this year. Move over Bing Crosby, this year we’re dreaming of a Green Christmas!
1: Shop independent
Coronavirus hasn’t had a lot of positive output; however, I can almost guarantee that you know at least one person who has started their own small business. It’s really important that we support those who are taking the brunt of the economic droop, so go out there and buy from them! Nothing will make a more unique Christmas gift than your friend’s handmade jewellery, or an art print from a coursemate. If you don’t know anyone yourself, have a look on Etsy. Smaller businesses tend to be much more sustainably-minded, and a lot of them offer plastic-free packaging. Extra brownie points if you can shop locally to reduce CO2 delivery impact.
2: Shop second-hand
The local charity shop or antiques centre can be a gold mine for cheap and sustainable Christmas gifts. By buying second-hand you’re helping the environment by reducing the demand for new material goods. Furthermore, your gifts will have the added bonus of being unique, quirky or vintage! If you shop at an antiques centre, you’re likely to get something extra beautiful, and charity shops often have things that are still unused, at a fraction of the price and with profits going to a good cause!
3: Buy vouchers or experiences
Material objects will always have the risk of some kind of environmental impact, but experiences leave their mark only as memories! Buying someone an experience is something they will value forever. Even better, you can help support your local museums and arts venues by purchasing advance tickets or experiences for the post-pandemic climate. This will help keep struggling venues afloat, and is a great gift with no environmental consequences- winner winner turkey dinner!
If you’re artistic yourself and have some time on your hands, try making your own gifts! There are endless possibilities out there for completely unique presents that have the added charm of being made by you. Some ideas off the top of my head: homemade cookies in painted kilner jars (these can then double as candle holders!), knitted scarves, Christmas decorations, pottery… get creative!
5: Gift green
If you want to encourage your loved ones to start thinking about their own environmental impact, give gifts with this in mind. Consider shampoo bars, solid soaps, eco sponges and more. These gifts are not only useful, but help others think about how they can help save the planet.
6: Green wrapping
This year I’ve made the move to brown kraft wrapping paper. It’s fully recyclable, has no plastic glitter nasties, and comes with the added bonus of a cheaper price tag! I’m tying my parcels with red and white butcher’s string and topping it off with recyclable kraft labels. If you fancy something a little more decorative, check out the recyclable wrapping paper at WHSmith which have some lovely designs. To be extra savvy on the no-plastic front, use pretty Christmas washi tape instead of Sellotape!
Some members of my family have made the switch to electronic Christmas cards. These lessen the impact of paper cards on the environment and save you a lot of hand-writing time! Alternatively, re-use old ones or upcycle old art you’ve made into postable greetings-cards.
I hope this run-down has given you some inspiration to start thinking more sustainably about your gift-giving this Christmas! The environment is an issue close to my heart, and it’s really important that we continue to look after the planet at the most material time of the year. By gifting sustainably, you might even help inspire your loved ones to start thinking about their own impact on the environment. Please feel free to share these tips with family and friends, and add some of your own ideas below!