How many of us have looked around on Stephens Day and witnessed the post Christmas day carnage – piles of unwanted presents, mounting dishes, bins full of wrapping paper and fridges full of uneaten food and felt guilty? The average Irish person is said to spend €755.67 on Christmas gifts alone this year. This does not even include money which will be outlaid for food and beverages etc. over the Christmas period.
Below are some tips on how we can be more environmentally conscious this year
Decorating your House
- Ditch the tinsel and cheaper flimsy decorations: By choosing more durable ornaments which are made of wood, metal etc. you are more likely to have them for many years and cherish them. Why not check out some charity shops too for some pre-loved decorations. You can also get creative with your Christmas decorating and opt for more natural items from the outdoor such as Holly, pine cones and bark etc.
- Buy a real Christmas tree: Plastic trees are usually manufactured in China and highly energy intensive to make – so imagine the carbon footprint on one of those. Opt to buy a tree grown and sold locally! If you buy a real tree in a pot, make sure you’re a good Christmas tree parent and look after it well as it can be replanted. If you get a regular cut tree, remember to recycle it!
- Switch to LED lights, they are 80% more energy efficient than traditional lights. 95% of the energy used in LED lights is converted to light and only 5% is wasted as heat meaning they use less energy, reduces demand on electricity and overall decreasing GHG’s.
Gifts & Cards
During the Christmas period there is such a focus on purchasing new items but do we really need more things? What happened to traditional Christmas values of family time, celebrating love, valuing the simple joys of community, gratefulness, and sharing the day with one another. So why not focus on some more meaningful things this Christmas such as:
- Be present
- Wrap someone in a hug
- Send some love and check in with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Donate money to charity
At the same time, I am not here to criticise the act of gift giving this Christmas. I know I will be taking the opportunity to spoil some of my nearest and dearest. If you are giving material gifts this Christmas, try and consider:
- Supporting local and buy Irish – there are a number of local trinket & artisan shops and craft stores around Ireland which also deliver around this time of year. It’s also really nice to buy goods which have been made in Ireland. A good online store for this is www.totallyirishgifts.com which feature a number of Irish sourced gifts. Where possible try and buy items directly from craft fair stalls or shops to cut down on delivery and transportation some good Christmas fairs around Dublin are:
- Ha’Penny Christmas Market at Grand Social
- DunLaoighaire Christmas Market
- Christmas Market in Smithfield
- Marts Christmas Market, Rathmines
- Dublin Castle Christmas Market
- Christmas Market on the Green, Stephens Green
- Christmas at Farmleigh, Farmleigh House
- Hens Teeth Bazaar, Black Teeth, Dublin 8
- Opt for reusable tote bags, newspaper, and material over wrapping paper and gift bags where possible
- If you must use wrapping paper, why not opt for some plain brown paper which can be recycled easily. Its simple and understated and can be jazzed up with some ribbon and accessories. If you are opting for traditional wrapping paper,choose wisely and stay away from foil or glitter papers as these are not at all recyclable and need to be placed in the general waste.
- Buy sustainable: As well as buying local, I would always advocate for opting for sustainable gifts, some companies which I would suggest would be:
- Everyday items:
- Toiletries and beauty
- Interiors and Quirky Items:
- Don’t be afraid or ashamed to regift unused items!
- Opt to buy experiences, a course or app subscriptions for people rather than physical items
- If you are buying physical items for people, sway some people over to being more sustainable by purchasing items like keepcups, metal or bamboo straws. Heck, why not even make up sustainability kits for friends and family!
- Opt to make your own cards by using scrap paper, re purposed card. If, like me, you are not very artistic opt for some stamps, keep it simple and watch some lettering tutorials online
Sustainability in the Kitchen
- Buy less: when it comes to grocery shopping this year, remember the shops, if they close, will close for one day usually. You do not need to stock up unnecessarily as if you are preparing for a famine. Annually, the average Irish family will throw €700 worth of food into the bin and this will peak around Christmas time. Be savvy, plan ahead and make a list before going shopping. This will ensure that you do not get carried away in the supermarket.
- Buy more consciously: when purchasing fruit and veg in particular this year, try and opt to buy local from a green grocer such as Nortons Green Grocer based in the Liberties or hit up a farmers market, the weekend ahead of Christmas.
- When clearing up after the Christmas and cleaning away, try and be as sustainable as possible with your cleaning products. Earthmother stock a vast array of cleaning products as do Lilly’s Eco clean. I know in the past I have opted to purchase more eco-friendly washing up liquid, cleaning sprays, floor cleaner and dishwashing brushes online from Earthmother.
- Compost, where possible!
- Reuse those leftovers in the days following Christmas. For a list of recipe suggestions, see here.
- For some of the more sweet and savoury items, try and cut down on the plastic by going to bulk stores such as the one which has just opened in Dundrum, The Good Neighbour.
- Rather than opt for boxes of biscuits and chocolates which generally come packaged with tonnes of non recyclable plastic – why not opt to bake more or make some homemade chocolates this Christmas
- If you do eat meat, opt to buy an Irish turkey, according to the IFA, 30% of all turkey’s are imported – so opt to purchase one which is Irish, organic, free range and humanely rared.
- Instead of wrapping up leftovers in clingfilm, opt for some Irish made, beeswax wraps – these are durable, easily washable and will rid your kitchen of recyclable plastic. The wee trading sustainable company is a great spot for picking some up
For everyone looking to have a more eco home this Christmas. Earthmother have kindly given a 10% discount code for all my readers for their Eco Home section! Just simply use the coupon name “legaldiaries” when you go to check out.
The most important thing this Christmas though, aside from all the materialistic items is to spend time with family and friends. If you know someone who doesn’t have that option why not reach out to them this Christmas. Don’t stress the small stuff this Christmas and just enjoy the holidays!
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful holiday 🙂