Sustainable Christmas


Here are the things we chatted about, with some suggestions about how we might approach Christmas differently, recognising that we can’t do everything at once!

With added facts from A Sustainable Life, recommended as ‘The home of easy, everyday sustainability, for the #imperfectlygreen!’



PRESENTS:

ONE IN TEN UNWANTED CHRISTMAS PRESENTS ENDS UP IN LANDFILL
11.81 MILLION UNWANTED PRESENTS ARE RECEIVED EACH YEAR
An average of 3 per UK household

Why not give Beeswax wraps:

Use instead of cling film to:
  • wrap sandwiches (except meat/fish - use a paper bag instead),
  • cover leftovers in the fridge etc

Warmth of hands moulds it to the container, or to itself.

To make them:
  • White beeswax/pine resin (Buy online…must be food approved) and jojoba oil (for suppleness).
  • Cotton cut into squares (range of sizes) with pinking shears
  • Equal quantity (40g) of each then 10g jojoba
  • Heat in a pan.
  • Use a paintbrush to spread generously on one side then hold up to dry for 20 secs or so.
  • Done!

They last up to a year, after which the stickiness decreases.
Either pop in the oven on some greaseproof paper to reactivate the resin, or use as a natural firelighter!

Or shampoo/shower bars (helping to reduce plastic use):
Lots available but Lush generally thought to be particularly good.

Then there are 'meaningful presents':

From voluntary organisations eg:
        
Love Welcomes
cushion covers/placemats etc
made by refugee women in a camp in Greece out of upcycled blankets and pieces of lifejacket used on the dangerous journey across the sea

Good Gifts’
buy a goat/light for an African village/bike for a midwife/chickens/beehive on someone’s behalf as a present,
you get a card to give them to explain what’s been bought in their name

Oxfam

Or twin a loo!

And ethical presents:

Ethical Shop
eco-friendly gifts, fair trade presents and organic treats

Traid Craft
fair trade groceries and gifts
available at the Westcott Christmas Craft Fair, and on the first Sunday of each month in church

Or you could buy from local craftspeople/producers:
Westcott Christmas craft fair Saturday 23rd November
Dorking Artisan Market Sunday 1st December (West Street carpark)


Or why not give an experience:
perhaps a year’s membership of National Trust/English Heritage/V&A

As for stockings:
consider natural stuff for the garden/seeds/bulbs/gifts that grow
avoid tat!



WRAPPING PRESENTS:

27,000 MILES OF WRAPPING PAPER IS USED EACH YEAR IN THE UK ALONE
And much of it ends up in landfill.

At all costs avoid wrapping paper with glitter….and shiny paper:

Do the scrunch test:
  • if you scrunch the paper into a ball and it stays scrunched up, it can go into the recycling,
  • if is ‘unscrunches’ itself, it can’t
Glitter can't be recycled

Try printed brown paper instead:
Available online in huge rolls.
Buy or make a stamp (star/snowflake etc), wrap present then stamp all over it!
Same for tags.

Or fabric

Or newspaper with a ribbon to secure it:
Use proper ribbon then squirrel it away to use the rest of the year

Why not cut up last year’s Christmas cards for tags:
make sure you don’t write on the back of the picture bit in your own cards, so others can use them for tags!



FOOD:

THE EQUIVALENT OF 2 MILLION TURKEYS END UP IN THE BIN EACH YEAR
That's the leftovers that don't get eaten when everyone is fed up of turkey.
FIVE MILLION CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS HIT THE BIN EACH YEAR
And that's before we even add in the plastic waste that comes with shop bought Christmas puddings.

Keep portion sizes resonable
(though BBC Good Food magazine’s advice on one large or 2 small roast potatoes seems unnecessarily stingy….)

Plan to avoid waste:
Pavlova/trifle perfect combo….using the egg white/yolks - not wasting either

Try to buy meat and veg locally
Those who live in Dorking can order and get it delivered by Food Float.



DECORATIONS:

500 TONNES OF FAIRY LIGHTS ARE THROWN AWAY EACH YEAR

Paint walnuts/conkers with acrylic paint:
pin through hole then string to hang on tree.

Dry slices of orange/lemon in the oven:
hang on tree, round house or on wreath

Paper chains

Popcorn chains




HOMEMADE CRACKERS:
  • use last years wrapping paper.
  • loo rolls for the centre, make hat out of any other paper you’ve got around.
  • add sweets or small cracker gifts from the Grange shop (behind Oxfam….products made, and sold, by residents of The Grange in Bookham)
  • can buy cracker snaps or shout 'bang!'
   


TREE:

Dig up a tree with roots:
Charlie’s Farm in Newdigate - and use again.

Or cut one down from Newdigate and recycle through council scheme:
lots of places to recycle it after Christmas
(excellent fun…and festive rows…. for all the family, to choose the tree from there….!)

Or try using branches from outside to hang stuff on



CARDS:

ONE BILLION CHRISTMAS CARDS END UP IN THE BIN EACH YEAR
 
  • Use last years Christmas cards for labels.
  • Think about a message in village mag/signing the communal card in church
  • Email a Christmas letter
  • Definitely don’t send any cards with glitter on general shine on them - can’t be recycled.



ADVENT CALENDAR:

Try a fabric advent calendar:
reuse each year
maybe a nativity one - lots of others available online….
or you could make one
- make a character/animal to add to the scene each day
- or put a sweet in a pocket for each day

Or a Reverse Advent Calendar:
put a food item in a box each day through advent
take it to the Foodbank when their supplies are depleted after Christmas.



GOING OUT:

Look out for the six Mole Valley taxis that are hybrid (as yet none are electric):
3% of the total of 196 hackney carriages and private hire vehicles licensed


AND AFTERWARDS...DON'T WASTE UNWANTED PRESENTS:

Trash Nothing (joined with Freecycle) and Next Door
both fantastically efficient way of passing things on to people who want them


HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Sarah Massey, 20/11/2019