With all the unwanted presents, uneaten food and plastic decorations there seems to be waste everywhere at this time of year, but with a bit of thought it’s easily possible to enjoy a stylish and sustainable holiday season.
This week META has five tips for a beautiful green Christmas and an environmentally-friendly new year.
1. Plastic is not a gift
People (especially kids) want to receive a mountain of presents, not a mountain of packaging.
Choose gifts from businesses that avoid excessive packaging and reward firms that are serious about making their products and packaging recyclable. Found (or been given) a product with too much plastic?
— Kevin Pierloot | Oostendenaar (@Pierloot) August 19, 2018
Why not take a picture of packaging waste and post it to social media tagging the offending company? Don’t forget to use a hashtag like #BreakFreeFromPlastic so others can witness the crime!
Interested in getting really serious cutting waste? Then check out your local Zero Waste group and check our our five simple steps to reduce plastic pollution in 2018.
2. Ditch plastic-wrapped food
Some supermarkets claim that wrapping food in plastic extends its shelf life and saves food. But 88 million tonnes of food is still wasted in the EU every year.
Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Product Policy and Circular Economy Officer at the EEB dismisses the supermarkets’ argument:
“Historically, an increase in plastic packaging has actually happened alongside an increase in food waste, so it’s strange to argue that you can somehow solve a problem with waste by creating more waste.”
A recent report concluded that the combined challenges of food waste and plastic packaging waste must be tackled together.
So instead, why not choose vegetables without packaging or bring your own bags and pick loose fruit and veg.
Want to cut out the greedy supermarket middle man entirely? Search for a zero or low-packaging shop near you.
— Roberta* (@RougeRoberta) 26 juni 2017
Or what about finding a local farmers box scheme? In many places it’s possible to order weekly deliveries of seasonal, organically-grown vegetables from farms close to your home – what could be fresher or more delicious?
The EU is starting to get serious about plastic waste problem and people power is keeping up the pressure on big plastic polluters who are now afraid of a giant plastic-waste-spouting dragon that’s ready to attack:
Un drago sputa rifiuti davanti al Consiglio europeo, l’iniziativa dell’ong ambientalista @RethinkPlastic a supporto della direttiva del Parlamento europeo che abolisce l’uso della plastica monouso → https://t.co/lab4zE4bAT pic.twitter.com/n0nqWddLxI
— Rainews (@RaiNews) 28 november 2018
3. Wrap like a champion
Nobody enjoys chucking away that mountain of hastily torn up wrapping paper, but we all love beautifully wrapped presents.
So instead of lots of wasted paper and plastic bows, why not get creative with reusable fabric and and ribbons. Check your favourite social media for plenty of ideas!
If you already have decorations at home then it’s obviously better to reuse-reuse-reuse before you go out and buy more.
The jury is out on whether to replace old fairy lights with LED alternatives. On the one hand, LEDs will use a lot less energy, on the other – cheap LEDs can break and unlike the older string-of-bulbs, they are often difficult or impossible to replace. With products like these most likely shipped in from China, it may be better to old on to your old lights for as long as possible (but turn them off when you leave the room!)
Still, one thing is clear: there are all sorts of beautiful decorations you can make by upcycling things that might otherwise end up in your bin.
What about these cute little reindeer?
View this post on Instagram
5. A tree for life, or just for Christmas?
Plastic trees can offer years of service but are still made of fossil fuels and almost impossible to recycle. If you’ve already got one, take good care of it and don’t leave it alone with your cat.
If you really want a real tree then find a company that sells locally-grown trees and buy one in as large a pot as possible. It’s not easy being a pine tree in a cozy warm house, so be kind and don’t let it go thirsty.
When it’s time to take down the decorations plant your tree in the garden or find a local project that adopts Christmas trees!
A cut Christmas tree has no chance to survive but it could make a nice habitat for creepy-crawlies if you lay it in a dark, damp corner of your garden.
Still not enough?
Then why not send a Christmas or New year’s card (or social media message) to a politician or business explaining why you’re sick of needless waste!