The ultimate guide to a plastic free Christmas party
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! … and the most wasteful. Did you know that at Christmas, households across the UK produce 30% more waste than any other time of year? This is easy to see – there is mounting pressure on us to buy more, have more, give more – but is this really what this time of year is all about? Particularly given the difficult times we are all living through right now – both financially and emotionally – perhaps it is time to strip back Christmas to what it truly stands for: the gift of time, helping others if we can, and sharing moments with loved ones. Taking the pedal off the acceleration of Christmas chaos and throwing an eco-friendly celebration can help us remember what really matters – whilst helping the planet and all its inhabitants too.
So, for a guide on how to throw an eco-friendly Christmas celebration – with all the wonder but none of the waste – then read on!
Every year, £26 million worth of christmas waste ends up in landfill – 12,500 tonnes of which are Christmas decorations – including 68,488 miles of Christmas lights. So, how can we decorate our homes a to be a little kinder to the planet?
Dried orange garland: slice oranges into thin slices (around ¼ inch), pat dry to remove excess moisture and place on a piece of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Pop in the oven (140C/120C fan/gas 1), bake for 45 mins – 1 hour and turn occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. You can stud with cloves if you like, and either string through the middle (if making vertical hangers), or poke 2 holes at the top using a skewer and thread your string through both of those (f making horizontal garland). You can also add cinnamon sticks to your garland too by tying the string around them.
Popcorn & cranberry garland: Use pieces of popcorn and either dried or fresh cranberries, create a hole in each one using a large needle & thread onto strong string or florist’s twine creating your own pattern.
Bunting: using scrap bits of fabric, coloured card, or even cut-up triangles of that pair of jeans that are a bit too scrappy to be re-worn!
Paper chains: using newspaper, scrap paper or recycled paper
You can create decorations using salt-dough: simply add double the amount of plain flour to salt (e.g 250g salt, 500g flour) and then the same volume of water in ml as salt in g (so here, 250ml). Roll out onto a floured surface using a rolling pin and use biscuit cutters to make shapes (or go freehand!) Make sure to poke a hole in each decoration – near the top but not so close that it will break. Cook in the oven at its lowest temperature for 3 hours or until solid. Decorate using acrylic paints, tie with ribbon and hang on your Christmas tree or around your home. These decorations can be made for different events throughout the year for all those eco-friendly celebrations!
OTHER ECO FRIENDLY DECORATIONS
FOR THE TABLE
Rosemary Wreath place names: For place names at the dinner table, tie a bit of florist’s wire into a circle. Wrap springs of rosemary around this wire, and tie a red ribbon at the top. On a bit of brown (recyclable!) paper, cut rectangles and write the name of each of your guests. Lay a wreath at each place at the table, and place their name on top.
Do you know that each Christmas we use enough wrapping paper to cover 238, 855 miles? (that’s approx. the distance from here to the moon – crazy!). And, sadly, much of this is made from plastic and is non-recyclable.
How to tell if wrapping paper is recyclable? A pretty good trick is to scrunch it in your hand – if it scrunches it is most probably paper and recyclable, but if it is plastic, it will just sort of spring back.
A simple and festive way to wrap is simply using brown paper and string (you could even pop in a few sprigs of holly or fresh rosemary under the string for an extra flourish!)
You could also use scarves or jumpers to wrap your presents or invest in reusable gift wrapping!
For gift tags, you could use brown card (e.g from a cereal box that can then be recycled) cut into a festive shape, or by cutting out images from last years Christmas cards (this is a really good way to keep those Christmas cards in circulation a bit longer! You could even write in pencil so that the recipient can rub out their name and use again for someone else next year).
Christmas is a time of year when the marketing for new clothing is pretty relentless – all of those sparkly, sequinned rainbow dresses glinting at us from shop windows. If you can, the holiday season can be an exciting time to thrift for outfits instead of buying new. Need a Christmas jumper? Second hand or thrifting platforms are stuffed with retro Christmas jumpers at this time of year – with options for every style!
If you are buying new this year, try to steer clear of sequins. These glittery pieces of plastic do not biodegrade, sitting in landfill for generations or polluting the ocean with toxic chemicals and disrupting ecosystems. Again, there are plenty of sequinned items available secondhand so if you’re desperate for that glitter ball dress – it can be really fun to try and source it this way! The wonderful thing about buying this way is that you know for sure no one else at your eco-friendly celebration will be wearing the same thing as you; your outfit will be totally unique.
We spend £700 million a year on unwanted gifts – think of the amazing things this money could do instead!
Of the gifts bought, just 1% will still be in use 6 months after Christmas.
For party favours or gifts for your eco-friendly celebration, the salt-dough decorations above can be really effective. How about cutting out salt-dough in the shape of jumpers, and decorating a different xmas jumper decoration for each member of your family?
Crackers: On xmas day, around 40 million crackers are thrown away – think of all the plastic!
Unfortunately (because they really are fun), crackers are pretty terrible for the environment. Most of their make-up cannot be recycled – not to mention the plastic toy inside or the big plastic box they come wrapped in. If you can, opt for more eco-friendly versions – ones made from recycled card, ones without any glitter, ones that come in a box WITHOUT that plastic film keeping them in place (this is usually not recyclable).
You could also make your own crackers using old toilet rolls, brown paper and string/ribbon. Or of course, you don’t need crackers at all to feel festive or celebratory – so you could leave them out of your eco-friendly celebration altogether!
Charitable gifts: If you can, giving to charity can be the most wonderful of Christmas gifts.
Homemade DIY gifts: Here are some examples of things you can make from home:
- Kitchen salt mix (mix rock salt with dried herbs in a clean, decorated jar)
- Sugar scrub (see our Rainy days with the kids: craft works with waste materials)
- Jars of homemade granola, jam or even infused gin or vodka!
Nothing! Just love! This is the greatest gift of them all!
A SELECTION OF GIFTS FROM OUR VERY OWN SANTA'S WORKSHOP
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