To Tree or Not to Tree: Eco Friendly Christmas Ideas
First Published on Zero Waste Club by Cecily Henderson, Co-Founder, PomPom
Christmas is my favourite time of year, everyone gets a ‘go’ – way better than a birthday, when it’s just one person’s turn. Can you tell I grew up with three sisters and I still find it hard to share?!
It is a time of indulgence; joy, presents, laughter, gathering, eating. It is also a busy time of year; planning, thinking, buying, making, wrapping, cooking.
We can’t do any more. Fact. So let’s embrace the idea that less (and eco-friendly) is more.
I don’t think green should be obscene either, not in taste or in price. There is no need to sacrifice aesthetics for ethics, I believe it’s called eco-chic. Embrace it.
Taking the tree as our starting point, how can we zero the waste with little to zero effort? To misquote, dream a little green with me!
Real vs Fake
This is not a debate that is constrained to trees and I know what I feel …
The 8 million Christmas trees that people have bought specifically for the holiday season in the UK will result in 12,000 tonnes of the total waste.
If you already own a plastic tree, skip to the next paragraph, as for you this conversation is over. I beg of you, use your tree, use it until it’s on its last legs and then consider a more sustainable option in the future. So for this year, for you, no need for any more effort.
Natural Tree Buyers. Buy local. Crucially, dispose of it correctly, chat up your local council to collect it. Don’t send it to landfill. Trees will be used as chippings for local parks and walkways.
And what are the alternatives to both natural and fake trees? Super cool, crafty, creative trees. Book Trees. Step Ladders with lights and Baubles. Recycled cardboard Trees.
Guaranteed you have books. Likely you have a ladder. You probably have the internet. Any option means at most you have to walk to the storage and at best, you can order from your sofa. If you are ordering online, please consider the packaging and order everything you need from a few shops to save postage.
Here are just 3 ideas but there are many more out there!
To Tree Part 2: Decorations
My guess is you have decorations already. If not, buy local. Saves petrol, saves time, supports small businesses. Buy plastic free decorations- remember eco-chic. This will make your tree look classier, I promise.
Wooden decorations may cost more than plastic but in the manner of saving money, buy less, no one wants an overladen tree.
I know, I know, don’t get your tinsel in a twist, I promised zero extra effort, so stick up your hand and ask your child, mother, neighbour, partner to make some decorations! Store them carefully and you won’t even need to ask next year!
To Tree Part Three: Presents
This is a great subject because I love presents. I love the thought that goes into presents. Genuinely, the thought counts because I will otherwise judge you. From on high. Mercilessly. In the way that the spirit of Christmas condemns. I don’t need them to be expensive, even the wrapping can be thoughtful, and thought is free!
I am also excellent at giving presents. It’s a rare gift, all puns intended.
So what does a plastic free present look like? Does it have to be a “thing” – might you consider a non-object?
Experiences: My favourite gift that keeps on giving. Anticipation, enjoyment and a memory. Theatre, ice skating, puppet show, circus, concert, supper, the zoo. Make it age appropriate and go!
Charity: Donate to a charity of someone’s choice. Buy a present that donates profit to a charity. We love these Polar Circles that give 20% profit to Marine Conservation Society.
Gift of Time: Offer to babysit / dog walk / fill a freezer. If someone did all three things for me, I might marry them!
For children: Pause and step away from the Legos. What other materials could there possibly be other than plastic? Wood, bamboo, felt, sugar cane, or metal. PomPom makes sugarcane building blocks that look like Lego, build like Lego, and are compatible with Duplo.
Image credit, Eilidh, Mummy and Monkeys
It’s a wrap.
This year in the UK alone over 200,000 miles of wrapping paper will be thrown away. Greenpeace also found that 1kg of wrapping paper emits 3.5kg of CO2 during production. Plus, lots of wrapping paper is lined with foil or glitter making it unrecyclable, not to mention the plastic tape that is used to keep the wrapping in tact.
The route with least resistance is newspaper. Assuming you still buy the weekend papers and it’s not online and Sunday night remains sacred, use them. That’s what the sports section is for!
If you have to buy paper, buy brown recycled paper. Shabby-chic is in and you heard here first! Tie with raffia string, tuck a little posy of lavender or rosemary in the top. So pretty (and thoughtful and cheap). Use last year’s Christmas cards as label tags.
Oh, but you don’t want to leave the house? No problem. We look East to Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping presents. Any scarf, any swaddle and possibly even a tea towel, you have lying around. Don’t miss this fantastic video created by Emily Dawe.
You want glitter? No problem - buy plastic free glitter! Dust your wrapping and frost yourself. And for those you like least, don’t be frugal, it’s impossible to hoover!
Check out Zero Waste Club’s new video to learn more about the environmental impacts of the holiday season.