During our gorgeous southern summer of braais, beaches and blue skies, we might not be dreaming of a white Christmas this December. But there is a lot we can do to make our festive celebrations GREENER. There are many ways to be waste less, and there is more joy in giving and receiving earth-friendly gifts that love the planet while we love our dearest this Christmas.
WE ASKED SOME OF SA’S TOP GREEN EXPERTS FOR THEIR TIPS FOR A GREENER CHRISTMAS:
#1 Go with a Christmas tree that grows
If you don’t have a tree, and were planning on buying a plastic one, rather substitute it with the real thing. The plastic tree will inevitably end up in the landfill after a few years. Greenpop recommends buying a real tree that you can pot for Christmas, and then plant out in your garden after the holiday season. Choose a water-wise, indigenous tree with a great shape such as the Water Berry tree. If you don’t have space in your garden to plant it out after Christmas, you can always donate it to a local school in the New Year and help them green their environment. A great example to the kids!
#2 Eco-wrap your gifts
Unwrapping presents brings us great joy at Christmas time, but the heap of torn paper with layers of plastic tape that we clean up afterwards is a real downer. Zero waste advocate, Shannon Skye Goodman suggests getting everyone involved in creatively using more eco-friendly alternatives this year.
Decorate brown paper and newspaper, and use spare boxes or pretty scraps of fabric. Use paper tape or string and ribbons that can be reused. Consider making the wrapping part of the gift by using scarves, décor cloths or sarongs.
If you just don’t have the time to make your own, another option is to choose eco wrapping paper such as the FSC certified collection from Rotoflux which is made with 100% recycled materials and plantable tags. These seeded tags can be planted and watered. As the paper biodegrades, the seeds embedded in them will flourish into a crop of herbs or flowers. Kids will love this!
For more eco wrapping options click here.
#3 Mindful shopping for meaningful gifts
In the Christmas rush, it’s easy to find yourself buying whatever is to hand for someone who has everything anyway. It pays to really spend some time thinking about what you can give your loved ones and friends that will delight them and won’t compromise your greener Christmas this year.
Founder of Faithful to Nature, Robyn Smith points out that there is more choice than there has ever been when it comes to eco-friendly goods. From luxury organic toiletries and chocolates to quality gadgets for the greener house and garden, you can far more easily find gift options that are better for the earth.
It is also becoming increasingly popular to give gifts for good by making donations to causes in lieu of gifts, or to go for gifts that keep on giving such as the Sow Delicious ‘Slab of Seed’ which sets your loved one on the path to grow their own food garden full of heirloom crops.
Another great idea is to give the gift of an experience rather than a thing, or to make your own gifts. Cosmetic chemist, Conny Oberrauter, recently released her amazing book, The Cosmetics Chef. The book contains recipes to make your own natural skincare, body products and lifestyle products – she even has a recipe for natural dog shampoo! I recently made Bath Fizz Bombs with my “Little”. It was so much fun, and she loved adding them to her bath that evening.
(RELATED POST: To read our full review of The Cosmetics Chef book. Click here.)
Here is the recipe for Fizz Bombs (makes about five):
100g Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
20g Citric Acid (buy this from your local health shop)
2-3 drops of your favourite essential oil (like lavender or neroli)
Water in a spray bottle
Add all the ingredients except the water together and mix them thoroughly for 20 seconds.
Spray about 4 sprays of water and mix again.
Pat the mixture into mould and leave uncovered to dry for at least 30 minutes.
Note: for coloured Fizz Bombs add some food colouring rather than water to the spray bottle. You can also add food glitter (Woolies stocks some) for extra bath glam.
Put these Fizz Bombs in beautiful glass bottles, add a ribbon and a tag and you’ve got a gorgeous gift! Get the book for more recipes on scrubs, moisturisers, balms etc.
#4 Plan for feasting with zero food waste
We get to the end of a long year and we naturally feel like indulging and being indulged over the holiday season. It’s the time for lots of social meals and festive treats which can surely lead to an excess in food. According to celebrity chef, Sarah Graham, just a little planning can go a long way to alleviating this. She recommends including a strategy for how to use the leftovers when you are planning your festive menus. You can conserve food and budget, as well as your own time and energy by intending to ‘cook once to eat twice’ every time you are preparing for a mealtime gathering.
It might also be the ideal time to think of a natural food waste disposal system such as the Probio Bokashi home composter to deal with off-cuts during preparation and unavoidable food waste. A no-mess, no-smell and no-fuss composter such as this can help you cleanly upcycle food waste into nutrient-rich compost to help your garden thrive.
#5 Commit to a recyclable or plastic-free Christmas
“It’s amazing how easy it is to find great alternatives when you set the intention that you aren’t going to do plastics,” says Robyn from Faithful to Nature. From taking your re-usable bags with you when you shop to saying no to plastic straws and bottled water, there’s so much you can do to help avoid plastic waste. Explore buying eco-toys for kids. Try using paper tape rather than sticky tape. Swap heavily plastic-packaged food products in supermarkets for fresh options at your local market. Let go of the cling wrap (and the aluminium foil) – neither can be recycled.
Here are a few great eco-friendly gift ideas.
Have a very merry and a greener Christmas this year.