An eco-friendly Christmas: less is more
What if Christmas were all about experiences? Time together? Any maybe a few, valued, long-lasting new items?
Here are our ideas for a green Christmas - share yours below in comments!
Advent calendars don't have to involve several layers of plastic! Check-out our fill-it-yourself reusable Advent calendars here.
Consider 24 experiences, or 24 puzzle pieces, in place of plastic toys or plastic-encased treats.
Gift an experience
- Buy day pass, annual pass, or just a voucher for a day out;
- Or don't buy anything, just craft a memorable trip together;
- Our plantable experience gift cards make a nice "something to hand them on the day".
The higher quality the toy, the more likely it will be resold in condition good enough to gift! Browse:
- Adverts.ie ;
- Local charity shops or their online shop Thriftify;
- Offer and ask in Facebook freecycle groups like Zero Waste Freecycle Ireland / Preloved Toys Ireland - Imagine, Create, Build, or your local area may have its own;
- For LEGO try one of the LEGO buy/sell Ireland Facebook groups, or Bricklink - and/or an annual subscription to BrickIt app - an app that creates step-by-step instructions for hundreds of builds using whatever random pieces you have;
- We've started a buy-back scheme for our own eco-toys - not many available for sale yet but watch this space!
Gift sustainable new
This is the piece of 'sustainable toys' we've worked most on! Our toys are 93% gloriously free of any plastic, 7% have some small plastic element, like velcro for example (clearly indicated in case you want to avoid them)!
See our sustainable Christmas collection - and browse by age - including stocking fillers and Advent calendar fillers, here.
Plastic-coated (shiny / metallic / glittery) wrapping paper is very polluting to make and while it can technically go into home recycling bins in Ireland, like all soft plastics - and especially if it's plastic and paper bonded together - it is very, very unlikely to get recycled.
"Just paper" wrapping paper is more likely to be made from recycled materials - and much more likely to get recycled again. If you can tear it, it's paper = good.
We stock gorgeous wrapping paper that's been recycled and can be again!
Also good is reuse - reuse gift bags, or try Furoshiki with a pretty piece of cloth.
The most eco-friendly Christmas tree is one that already exists (or a locally-grown and recycled real tree)
What's better, a real tree, a fake tree, or a cardboard tree?
- The reusable tree you already have, or can buy pre-loved, is the best;
- If you need to buy new, a real Christmas tree grown locally is best:
- Ideally a living tree you can use for several years. Check-out pot-grown trees (not grown in the earth and then potted - those die quickly) like these;
- Failing a reusable living tree, a single-use real tree from a tree farm that you recycle or compost afterwards;
- Or, plant your own Christmas tree!
...Please, please don't buy a new artificial tree.
But..."a new plastic reusable tree is best if you use it for 5 years or more" - you've heard that before, right? I don't believe it, and here's why:
- That statement is based on 2 solitary studies paid for by the ACTA (American association for producers of plastic Christmas trees), both overseen by the same 2 people. Do you think they're unbiased?
- Those studies:
- Accept that making artificial trees from metal and plastic, and transporting from China, emits lots of CO2 (and we agree, that's just science);
- Say that composting trees emits lots of CO2 (but the EPA says composting is carbon-negative);
- Forgets that the real tree is replaced on the tree farm by new-grown trees - which will absorb as much CO2 as the dead tree emits - that's the natural carbon cycle.
The New York Times quotes Mr. O’Connor of the N.C.T.A (American association for sellers of real trees) as rejecting the study’s findings, saying it was “fall-off-your-horse simple that a tree made out of oil, turned into PVC plastic in China and shipped over on a boat, cannot be better than growing a real tree.”
Companies and associations have in the past spread misinformation to support their own agendas. E.g.: March 1988, Du Pont Chair Richard E. Heckert to the United States Senate, "...scientific evidence does not point to the need for dramatic CFC emission reductions. There is no available measure of the contribution of CFCs to any observed ozone change..." (source)
This video lacks data / legible sources but it's accurate (to my knowledge), it makes the points well, and is nicely shareable!
Crackers and games for Christmas Day
- Reusable crackers: Traditional Christmas crackers have been the source of an hour's fun and then gone to landfill. We're delighted to have brought the world's first reusable Chri stmas cracker to Ireland! It's sustainable in its making - made locally in the UK from recycled materials. And it's the last set of Christmas crackers you may ever have to buy. Fill with delicious, home-made treats, or with small gifts you know will be used.
- Cooperative board games - where better players need less-able players to succeed
Occupy the kids over the holidaysBorrow
- Borrow an all-ages entertainer like Bioblo or a giant bubble kit from us;
- Do you have a local toy library? Check our map here ;
- Stock-up on books from your local library before it closes for the holidays.
Earth-kind crafts - see here, e.g.:
- All-they-need-in-one-box craft kits;
- Traditional crafts like weaving, knitting and felting;
- Outdoor never-ending occupation with STICK-LETs;
- Entertain and delight everyone in sight of you with a giant bubble kit.
Check-out our collection of books about loving nature, leadership, and where they overlap.
More veggies, less meat. 'Just enough food' and freezing leftovers to minimise waste. We're not experts in this area so just flagging it as one to think about!
The biggest thing we can all do for our planet this Christmas is to stay local or travel over land and sea. Every flight we skip is a huge Christmas gift to our planet, even if we off-set. Our planet needs us to plant the "off-set" trees and also skip the flight :-)