How To Shop Sustainably And Give Mindfully This Christmas

“I’m dreeeaming of a GREEN Christmaaas”

An age old tradition has become a holiday of true excess: Christmas is now a period of peak consumption and the indulgence is beginning to put strain on the environment. However, the festive season doesn’t have to be a burden on our planet. With a touch of imagination and a little dash of effort, each and every one of us can reduce the environmental impact of Christmas.

Will you celebrate with an eco-friendly Christmas this year? We share some top tips on shopping sustainably and gift-giving mindfully….

Less really can be more when it comes to giving. Shop mindfully and begin by making a list of the people you will be buying for this Christmas, then come up with a gift they would really love – rather than browsing the shops, which can lead to panic buying and overspending. Avoid buying extra ‘bits and bobs’, nic nacs or gadgets which loved ones really don’t need. They will likely remain unused or will be quickly discarded. Instead, make every present count by selecting gifts that are thoughtful, personal and have a meaning or purpose. In turn we can give more, while spending less.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 40% of all battery purchases take place over the Christmas period. With a significant number of these batteries ending up in landfill, the chemicals inside leach into the soil and water, eventually polluting our oceans. Prevent this environmental hazard occurring by choosing battery free toys such as naturally-powered toys, wooden toys and fabric toys. Not only will they be more eco-friendly, they tend to be more aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting.

This year more than ever, the planet is in need of our kindness. It may not be at the top of every Christmas list, but a very worthy gift would be to a charity in need of support. Charities such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Earthjustice and Ocean Conservancy all do fantastic work that benefits the environment around us, so consider a donation on behalf of a loved one and protect the future of our families.

Re-gifting has always been somewhat looked down upon, but perhaps it’s time to see preloved (or not-so-loved) in a new light. If you think about it, re-gifting makes good sense. If you have previously received something that wasn’t to your taste or not needed, but you know someone else who would get pleasure from it, why wouldn’t you pass it on instead of being wasteful? If you take the monetary value away from giving, and focus on the thought behind it, there is no harm in re-gifting.

Furthermore, buying second-hand shouldn’t be discounted at Christmas. For example, buying quality, second-hand, beautiful wooden toys for a child that will get a lot of pleasure out of them for many years is a great gift option. What would usually be a fairly expensive present becomes affordable and breathes new life into the toy. Consider charity shops and online preloved / second-hand buy and sell online platforms for great bargains at this time of year.

This Christmas, consider giving a ‘forever gift’ that keeps on giving…. Perhaps a tree to be planted in the garden or a house plant. Such presents will continue to bring joy all year round.

Feeling overwhelmed by a looong gift list? When it comes to extended families or a large group of friends, why not do a Secret Santa? Each person gifts to just one other person in the group, which remains a surprise (adding to the fun of it). That way each person receives just one well-thought-out present, rather than lots of smaller things they may not need. Agreeing on a spending limit keeps the process stress-free and easier to shop for.

This Christmas why not get busy in the kitchen and consider a homemade gift. Grandparents, neighbours and teachers would all appreciate homemade cookies from children, as well as homemade cards. Try infusing your own festive booze with some cranberries and gin, and gift in a reusable glass bottle. The effort behind it will be equally appreciated as the tipple!

Who will ever forget the impact of Sir David Attenborough highlighting the effect of single-use plastic on the oceans in Blue Planet 2? Thankfully this was somewhat of a turning point and many of us have since been attempting to live more sustainably and purchase less plastic in our day-to-day lives. If we apply this to our Christmas shopping we can look at removing plastics from our gift list. More and more companies are supporting this movement by offering plastic alternative, eco-friendly products. When it comes to gifts from Santa Claus or parents, avoid the overload of flimsy plastic throwaways and buy less, but invest. Choose something that’s good for the environment, and that kids will love for years. Think of toys made from wood, bamboo, fabric or natural rubber. Also look at books, board games and jigsaws – choose items with non-toxic dyes, unbleached fabrics or made from recyclable materials.

An alternative present idea, which can be great for children or adults to give, is a zero cost gift of time. A pledge or ‘gift cheque’ to perhaps have a movie and popcorn night at home, or a babysitting ‘voucher’ for a relative with young kids. This is simple, but thoughtful, especially as for many of us, time is precious.

There are many ways you can ‘think green’ when considering your festive buys. Shopping for locally made gifts is a great way to do so. More often than not in today’s marketplace products are flown half way around the world from their manufacturer before they reach us. You can reduce your contribution to greenhouse emissions and global warming by cutting down on the transportation impact of your gifts. Look out for local artisan stores, craft fairs and farmers’ markets for locally handmade gifts. More often than not you can find out more about the gift from these sellers, and therefore give with meaning and thought. Furthermore, you will be supporting small local businesses, which helps to grow a sustainable, local economy.

Shopping sustainably and gifting consciously doesn’t have to cost the earth – and furthermore, it shouldn’t cost the Earth. Enjoy an eco-friendly Christmas, without skimping on festive magic and show your loved ones, and the planet, a little love.



Eve Brannon

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