Karen Maurice of N4 Mummy on how to have a plastic free Christmas without pulling your hair out...
Father Christmas has thousands of elves, all helping him get ready for the 25th. We’re juggling a hundred things and trying to create a magical Christmas for the little ones. Add to this the fact that plastic has become the swear word of the decade, what should be a time for peace on earth, suddenly isn’t. But there are some very simple switches that can be made for a plastic free Christmas. Switches that don’t mean we run around like headless turkeys.
Switch to reusable wrapping paper
Ignore the sparkly plastic wrapped paper that’s currently in stores. Instead reuse old wrapping paper or fabric. We collect wrapping paper, ribbon and anything decorative throughout the year to use at Christmas. The presents are then secured with biodegradable tape and recycled twine.
If you want your gift to look really special, then invest in a reusable fabric wrap, like the ones from The Fabric Wrapping Co (pictured). Inspired by the Japanese art of Furoshiki, they come in all different sizes, including bottle shapes.
Alternatively buy brown recycled paper. You can easily make it look festive by decorating it with stamps, like the ones from Skull and Cross Buns (pictured).
Buy recyclable Christmas cards
If I manage to send Christmas cards before the last posting date, I always give myself a virtual pat on the back. Just buy ones that are made from uncoated, recycled cardboard. Or for something special, send them a seed card, like the ones I found on Etsy from MadeByMikaLtd. When planted they’ll grow into wildflowers which are great for bees and butterflies.
Turn last year’s Christmas cards into labels
All you need for this is a pair of pinking shears, a hole punch and some ribbon or string. Take last year’s Christmas cards and turn them into this year’s present labels.
Don’t be afraid to give second-hand presents
Christmas is an expensive time, so don’t be afraid to have a hunt for preloved presents at your local charity shop, or school’s Christmas fair. I’ve found that they’re great places to buy books, jigsaw puzzles and toys.
Give presents that last
So many children’s toys break or are discarded quickly. So, invest in a few that will last. Some brands have ditched plastic as a material altogether. Have a look at Plan Toys, Petit Collage and Lanka Kaden (visit Wild & Wolf). They use sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, plus are aesthetically pleasing to have around the home. However, if your child is in need of a big plastic tractor, then Green Toys sell vehicles made from 100% recycled plastic. My son loves them.
Reuse your Christmas decorations
Decorations used year after year and brought down from the loft are my favourite. As they sometimes break, each year we buy a couple of new ones to add to the collection. There are lots of options for a plastic free Christmas. Oxfam have a beautiful garland and star decorations made from recycled saris. Mishiu Ferris lazer cut birch wood to make amazing geometric trees. &Keep have lots of felt decorations (a biodegradable material), like the snowmen pictured.
Decorate with natural foliage
It’s also great fun to bring the outside indoors, decorating the mantelpiece with holly, ivy, pinecones and whatever else you can find on a festive winter walk.
Buy fresh local food to avoid unnecessary plastic
Food is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to having a plastic free Christmas. So, buy fresh fruit and vegetables at local markets as you can take your own packaging. Alternatively, companies such as Abel & Cole and Riverford will deliver organic fresh food to your door.
Make your own ‘cheat’ mince pies
Making your own festive treats is one way to reduce plastic and calorie intake(!). Cheat like me and buy ready-made mincemeat, and then make the pastry. And don’t slave away at midnight once the kids are asleep. Get them involved – just accept a significant proportion will find its way to their tummies.
Choose natural fabrics for festive clothing
Everyone loves a Christmas jumper, pair of pyjamas and some new slippers. But if an item has polyester or nylon in it, amongst other fabrics, it is actually made of plastic. So, choose fabrics that are natural. Didi + Bud’s London print pyjamas are made from 100% organic cotton and The Small Home slippers are handmade from sheepskin. All materials that will eventually biodegrade.
And finally, don’t let eco anxiety plague you. If you just took one idea from these tips and tried to do it that would be amazing. After all it is the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
Karen Maurice lives and writes in North London with her husband and two children, Daisy and Laurie. For Christmas she’d like baby number 3 to arrive before 25th. She can be found daily on Instagram @n4mummy and writes the blog.