I’ll have a green, green Christmas
With contributions from Sara Allen, Eloise Dale, Sarah Gregory, Vicki Hull, Emma Ross, Adeline Vining and Laura Winton
As December comes around, so too does the task of preparing for festivities. For some the act of preparing is a joy, as much a part of Christmas as carols and mince pies. For others it’s a source of anxiety and another chore on the todo list. I’m always torn - my Mum says “it’s just one day, why make such a fuss?”, but she also doesn’t like to make a barbecue marinade because it’s extra hassle EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES THE FOOD TASTE NICER. In contrast, I bloody love making wreathes from a coat-hanger and some foraged ivy (and this year, some dinosaurs covered in glitter), rearranging candles to get just the right glow, and making rice crispy cakes look like Christmas puddings. The key take-away is that both of these are ok, as long as you’re doing it for your joy and not because instagram says you should, and not at the expense of sleep/ mental health/ a game of boggle. Although my Mum is 100% wrong about the barbecue marinade.
So - wherever you fall on the Christmas prep scale, we’ve rounded up some ideas for ways to prepare and spend the day which a) are stress free, b) reduce its toll on the environment and c) don’t bust the budget.
Be greener at Christmas
Eloise Dale (@eloisedale) has shared her excellent ideas for a greener Christmas.
I feel like these little shitbags epitomise everything that is gross about the Christmas Season. Instant gratification, unnecessary waste, stupid crap ya don’t need and you’re literally buying the things to throw them in the bin 2 minutes later. Don’t do it people, DON’T DO IT!!! Save your money and the earths resources. While we are at it, skip the wrapping paper too, why are we creating things that are destined for the bin a short while after? Pick up all the FREE wrapping paper ya like at your local train station where you will have 100’s of newspapers to choose from. Please don’t mistake this for me being grinchy, far from it, it’s me desperate to enjoy many more christmases in the future before the earth literally SELF-COMBUSTS!!!!!!
On our little forest walk yesterday, inspired by @mindandseed I picked up some twigs and took them home to decorate the flat with. I felt like I was in the 19th Century last night, winding my string around the branches and hanging them on the wall. I felt totally in the moment and really embraced what this time of year means. How lovely is it to honour our earth by using the little treasures it leaves us to adorn our homes? It felt right. I’ve decorated them with decorations I already had and vowed that I would not buy anymore decorations, instead using what I find to celebrate this season. It’s such a fun activity to do with your family, you should give it a go and see how it makes you feel.
A sustainable spin on Christmas
During November, Emma Ross aka MamalinaUK ran ‘Season’s Greentings' a campaign with sustainability at its heart for the festive season. With an established and flourishing Instagram community, Emma has created a guide to creating a more sustainable approach to gifting, decorations and food and drink, as well as things to do with family and friends over the holiday season. “I wanted to put an alternative spin on a Christmas campaign which promoted a more simple, more sustainable festive season and was an antidote to all the waste so often created; whether it's leftover turkey or un-recyclable wrapping paper”.
Eloise and Emma agree - make your presents secondhand.
Want something unique and special? Or you just don’t know what to buy that person that has everything? Take a trip to your local charity shop…no seriously, don’t roll your eyes at me. I have found some NEW things in there, that’s right, brand spanking new but at half the price!! A little bookset for the avid feminist, some dolls head candle sticks, and a lovely little trolley case for my boy. You never know what you are going to find, and who cares if something is secondhand anyway? It’s still a gift and a thought. You will feel like an adventurer on the hunt for little treasures that your loved ones will adore…and if they don’t? You simply re-gift it or take it back to the charity shop, all with no expense spared to the Earth. Christmas doesn’t have to stressful, it doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be wasteful, remember Father Christmas originally wore GREEN!
My top tip for the festive season would be to consider shopping for second hand gifts.
“People are more and more aware of their environmental impact and are now actively seeking out alternative, more eco-friendly ways of doing things, from DIY gift making to renting Christmas trees. I think people can see now that there's not just one way of doing things anymore, and that it's ok to be different”.
Meanwhile, I’ll be repeating my rice crispy cakes. I’ve literally no instructions beyond melt a few marshmallows into the chocolate to make the balls keep their shape better. The topping is melted white chocolate and the holly is cut up jelly tots, but you could just use icing or buy some pre-made holly leaves or just put a Smartie on top and be done with it.
Meanwhile, Vicki Hull spoke to two women for whom sustainable living is a positive choice, and asked them how they are approaching the festive season with sustainability in mind.
When Adeline sits at her table this Christmas with her family she will know where all the food and drink has come from, and most of it will be from within ten miles of where she lives. Provenance is important to Adeline and she takes pride in knowing the supply chains for her cafe (Heirloom), coffee business (Weanie Beans) and creative bag and accessory design company (Edith Joan) and at home.
Sustainability is at the heart of her business and decisions are made to run a socially-responsible and low-carbon cafe ˗ not always easy when your business is coffee on the high street. Weanie Beans, a coffee roastery in London, came first. Despite the challenges of running a business which sells coffee, which can’t be locally produced, Weanie Beans takes many steps to reduce its carbon footprint; from shipping coffee by boat, to working with direct trade initiatives, to selling coffee in compostable cups.
In the cafe, within walking distance of her home, Adeline has connected with local suppliers and pretty much all her ingredients are sourced locally, including locals bringing in their seasonal vegetable gluts. This network of local suppliers forms the backbone of the business and significantly reduces the carbon footprint. Adeline takes the view that it is best to “support the neighbour not the corporation”. She is well aware of the challenges of running a truly ethical business but says “…it’s all about balance. If we can’t reduce our environmental footprint in one way, we try to find a way to balance it elsewhere in the business…We try to make it as easy as we can for our customers to make a sustainable choice as consumers”.
On Adeline’s table this year, alongside the tasty locally-sourced food will be her beautiful handmade and reusable party crowns made a few years ago for her daughter and now part of their traditional celebrations.
Laura Winton (@leightonbuzzardlocalfood) has established an online community page for local businesses.
Laura is the perfect person to ask about gift inspiration this year just as long as you are buying in Leighton Buzzard. She has created an Instagram community which enables businesses and shoppers to connect. It originally started as a foodie page which shared inspiration of the foodie businesses locally, but it has grown to so much more. It encompasses a range of gift ideas from local businesses and ways that people can donate to charities locally.
The notion that “where you spend your money has power and how you choose to spend it is powerful. Whatever your reason for buying or not buying something is, it’s a consumer choice” is what inspired Laura to grow this Christmas idea. Encouraging people to shop in their local area means that the local economy becomes more sustainable, the high street remains vibrant and consumers reduce their carbon footprints. “There is just so much happening around local business and creative businesses in Leighton Buzzard… in the run up to Christmas I wanted to find a way to celebrate that and share it with the local community”. That way consumers can use their purchasing power.
Over time, Instagram has become the natural home of the account as small business owners use the platform. Local businesses have responded positively to the campaign and Laura has created a local hub which will last well beyond the festive season.