Plastic free Christmas? Jingle yeah!
That's ‘hell yeah’ but with bells on.
A few modest to outrageous suggestions on how to make your ho-ho-holidays a more environmentally friendly, plastic-free snowball of joy and sustainability. Implement my advice at your own risk of tantrums/cries of Scrooge. Remember to act jolly throughout, it’s what Santa would want.
Are you going to be naughty or nice this year to our planet?
I present to you a modicum of partially sensible ideas in the form of a list, a la Santa Claus.
1) ADVENT CALENDARS
Chocolatey goodness - but also hidden behind every door is a plastic surprise! Most advent calendars typically have the chocolate treat moulded into a plastic backing so you can easily pop it out. So, sadly, these must be avoided.
Instead, why not make yourself a plastic-free advent calendar? There seems to be a rise in ‘alternative’ advent calendars. I’ve seen wine-themed ones, a book-per-day themed calendars… choose something you’ve always wanted at least 24 of. Buying in bulk saves money and energy if you’re buying something you’d use up and have to replace as well. Make bulk buying fun for yourself!
You could also just stick to what you know and go for chocolate, as that’s still easy enough to find wrapped in paper and foil.
As an ethical and zero waste alternative, you could instead do a giving version, in which you donate to a different charity each day. 😊
Or just don’t have an advent calendar at all. You’re an adult, grow up.
(Only if you want to.)
2) CHRISTMAS TREES
Come on, Christmas trees are totally overrated… Ok fine, they definitely are not. I know, I know, they are practically Christmas incarnate nowadays, but I have some issues with them.
If you use a plastic tree then my issue is obvious.
Just don’t use one.
That is all I will say on plastic trees.
So we come to real Christmas trees.
I could have a proper rage at this but I shall refrain from getting too incensed. When you live next to a forest that has less and less natural woodland and is becoming more of a Christmas tree farm every year, you’d be annoyed too. Especially when you know that some years there is a massive surplus and so all the spares just get woodchipped. Our forests should not just be stumpy evergreen swathes of pine, fir or spruce!
If you want a real tree, buy a Christmas tree in a pot that you can grow outside and bring in each year if you can, as that would be one of the best solutions.
Those are my issues, take them or leave them. This year, why not have an alternative Christmas tree instead?
Decorate a tree or plant you already own, if you’ve got one in the garden - awesome, it’ll look super festive, if you have a suitably large plant in the house have a go at making that Christmassy. The outcome will vary depending on the size and style of the plant. Your small collection of cacti decorated may not produce quite the effect you were aiming for…
If you - like me - don’t have a garden, get creative and use some card or paper to artfully create a tree on your wall. It’s cheap, leaves no mess, doesn’t take up tons of space, is easy to clean up and could look very stylish, or at least interesting, depending on your art skills. I would love to see your attempts. Send them in, go on.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Pla la la la la, la la la la …stic.
Rule number one – no plastic decorations. If you’ve already got them, hang onto them as long as possible but don’t buy any more. There are much better alternatives you can use! You can get glass, wooden or ceramic decorations which look way better anyway. We’ve got a few fancily decorated egg shells that my parents bought in Prague, so that could be a homemade option, or you might be able to find professional egg artists in the UK somewhere.
How about card decorations? If you’ve saved any of last year’s Christmas cards you could cut out the festive designs on those and create decorations.
Some people make baked goods and hang them on the tree. You could make some gingerbread men or have a go at making candy canes and stick those on the tree. Just don’t eat them all straight away!
Finally, stay away from glitter and tinsel. What a way to spread microplastics!
These are all suggestions that are fun to do with family and friends to get you in the Christmas spirit. Don’t give in to the ‘I’m too busy!’ vibe that hits us before the big day, Christmas is about spending time with those you care about, right? Start the fun early and have a laugh together at your attempts to make homemade decorations.
This is a difficult one, as most supermarkets like to add a little bit of extra plastic to everything they sell, just in case of a major disaster or some other bull-crap. If you can, buy your turkey from a local butcher, avoiding plastic packaging. Vegetables tend to be easier to find unpackaged but not every shop will have the luxury of a plastic-free sprout tree. Just do your best with food and use unpackaged produce where you can.
After you’ve eaten your Christmas dinner, you can drunkenly decide that next year you’re going to grow your own damn Christmas dinner, turkey and pigs in blankets included. Regret that decision a year later when your dinner ends up as guests around the table, rather than on it. They are family now, so crunch on that nut roast with a smile on your face.
Please no, not the plastic 'tat' stocking fillers! Small novelty plastic gifts aren’t so funny when you know they’ll outlive you. More on this at a later date. Set your advent calendar to remind you.
6) PAPER TAPE
or other creative (fabric wrap) or budget (newspaper) gift wrap alternatives
Make sure you don’t give the gift of plastic pollution by proxy this Christmas. Wrap your presents using paper tape and give them as a gift to everyone you know to make them feel bad about their excessive use of plastic Sellotape. Extra points if you start a game of charades and mime the turtle with a straw stuck in its nose rather than outright telling them.
Disclaimer: This May cause family arguments. Especially if they were expecting something other than tape as a present from you. I wouldn’t recommend actually sticking a straw up your nose either, even if it is in the name of entertainment, as you clearly need someone to explain the rules of charades to you.
There are also some pretty cool alternatives to wrapping paper, check out the Japanese art of cloth folding, Furoshiki. Practical origami! Or just use some newspaper if you are on a budget. Although don’t accidentally use an article on plastic pollution and then use plastic tape to wrap it up, that would be awkward.
Hope that was helpful. It probably wasn’t.
Only an adult when I want to be, (advent calendars galore for me!) so have some Christmas cheer for free,
Good luck to you all with your plastic-free Christmases!