Christmas without over-consumption: is it possible?
Christmas: it’s mostly a time of joy and togetherness. It’s also a time of great stress. Stress on us, on our purses, and on the planet. Creating magic at this time of year is so important to me, but it often comes at a cost. Every year we try to do less harm than the year before, and this year will be no exception.
If enough people take part, small changes make a big difference. At home, lots of small differences over time will make a huge difference to your individual consumption too. Here are a few ways you could start.
21 ways to reduce your consumption this Christmas
Replace your advent calendars with an advent calendar box you reuse every year. Fill it with Christmas films, seasonal snacks and the odd book to read together. No need to have one each either. A family box is lots of fun!
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has long touted the No Gifts Pact. While it’s not something we would do for the whole family, it’s definitely something worth bearing in mind for distant family and friends. Nobody is going to miss the box of chocolates and let’s face it, if they do, they can always buy their own!
Tear up the Christmas card list. I really struggle to see the point in sending Christmas cards, or cards in general. There are so many other ways to let someone know you’re thinking of them. If sending a quick note is how you wish to do it, make it a text!
Buying second hand gifts means you can give presents without having to have something new produced. There are loads of places to get good quality second hand goods: try Cex for tech and the Oxfam shop for clothes.
Christmas dinner – make it vegan, plan it carefully. Last year was my first vegan Christmas dinner, and although I didn’t make it (we ate with the in-laws), it went down very well. The trick is to keep dinner simple: try making one extra special side rather than all of the veg.
Know what you’re doing with leftovers, whether you eat a vegan meal or not. I used to make veg pakoras with my roast leftovers. If I can nab some veg to bring home (we’re eating with my mother this year), I’ll probably do the same again!
Try giving yourself Christmas experiences rather than Christmas tat. I often find myself browsing the seasonal aisles, wondering what Christmassy thing to buy next. The good answer is, none of it! This year I’m going to make a list of experiences instead.
Give zero waste presents to people who aren’t usually zero wasters: a keep cup or shampoo bar would work a treat here. If they love your gift, they’ll keep on using it, and another is converted to the cause! If you’re really struggling, why not buy them a gift card? Cardyard buy unwanted gift cards and resell them to people who would use them.
Utilise click and collect or drop off points to cut back on delivery van journeys throughout the city. Plan these carefully so you aren’t making extra journeys especially or that defeats the object.
Tie in visits and experiences. You’ll save a lot of travelling back and forth if you tie in your visits with the people you want to see over the Christmas period. A friend of mine comes to Newport every couple of months and meets several people one after another. This saves so much time and you don’t need to travel so much!
Use public transport when going to see friends and family wherever possible. Back when I lived in my hometown, I remember looking out of the window of the fast food restaurant I worked in and seeing massive gridlock, mostly from cars looking to visit the shopping centre for their Christmas shopping. There might not be any need – check Google Maps for the best public transport routes.
Be frugal with your energy use. Even if you have 100% renewable electricity, chances are you’re still using gas for your central heating. Using as little heating as you can get away with is a great excuse to snuggle under the cosiest blankets while watching your favourite Christmas film.
Eat seasonal produce as much as possible: check out my In Season: Vegan December post for inspiration. As well as keeping things interesting throughout the year, eating with the seasons is better for our planet.
Use energy efficient lighting. You should be doing this for your regular lights anyway, but if you’re buying fairy lights, make sure they are LEDs.
Wrap thoughtfully – does the gift need wrapping at all? If you’re dead set, how about a gift box or bag you could use to store decorations outside of the Christmas period? If all else fails, then make sure the wrapping paper you use can be recycled. Foiled or glitter paper can’t, so it’s best to stay old school.
Get out in nature. What better way to see the changing of the seasons than to be out in those seasons as often as possible?
Regift. There’s no point hanging on to unwanted presents in the hope that you’ll eventually use them. Regift them, even if if means packing the item away for next Christmas.
Give your time and effort. This has the doubly good effect of helping a fast-emptying wallet. Offer your time as a present – an evening of babysitting, or a home cooked vegan meal for 4 would go down very well for some. I’m thinking of giving some VA hours this year – be imaginative and see what you could offer!
Fix or remodel decorations. Broken lights or decorations? Repurpose, remodel, and reuse them any way you can!
Reimagine the Christmas tree. Don’t ditch the fake tree you already have just because, but if you need a new one then why not use a small, potted tree you can use time and time again? It doesn’t have to be a traditional tree either: any potted tree can be made to look festive.
Make upcycled decorations. There’s no limit to what you can do with the things you already have lying around the house. Check Pinterest for inspiration!
What are you doing to reduce consumption over Christmas?