Who doesn’t get swept up in the glow of twinkling lights, the warmth of family huddled together, and the sheer joy that Christmas air brings? It’s magical. Yet, we know it’s also the season of ‘just a little bit more’ – more gifts, more decorations, more food, more.. well, everything.
Whilst we all love a bit of sparkle and merriment, the Clean + Conscious team are also also yearning to infuse our festivities with mindful choices and sustainable practices. Imagine a holiday where less waste and just as much joy coexist, where eco-friendly gift wraps steal the show, and where decorations bring light to your home without burdening the planet. We’d love a conscious Christmas that’s as magical as it is mindful.
Happily, there are many easy ways we can have a very merry conscious Christmas. Here are our favourites:
REGIFTING AND THRIFTING SHOULD BE CELEBRATED
Buying second- hand items or regifting an item you won’t use are great ways to gift more sustainably as it is saving on the resources needed to make new products. There are so many designer products even available second hand now, there doesn’t need to be a compromise on quality or style.
Whenever you spend money, remember you are voting with your wallet for the kind of world you want to support, so make sure you do it consciously. Support businesses who are manufacturing ethically, packaging sustainably and giving back to their local and global communities.
Look through the Clean + Conscious Directory to find the best conscious buys.
Not only are these small businesses usually at the forefront of innovation and making wonderful products that are healthier for your body, but your purchase will be kinder to our planet and you will be able to fund some amazing initiatives at the same time too.
CHOOSE A GIFT THAT LASTS OR ONE WHICH DISAPPEARS WITHOUT A TRACE
This Christmas, make it your purpose to only buy gifts which won’t add to landfill. Rather than going for gimmicky, make Christmas giving about quality. Think about the lifetime of the materials that your gifts are made from and make sure every purchase is something with purpose or meaning. You can even choose a theme of sustainability in your gift giving and inspire loved ones to live more mindfully.
For children, choose to gift toys made from sustainable wood, natural rubber or non-toxic, recycled plastic that are durable enough to be passed on to younger kids when outgrown, instead of into landfill.
Great zero waste gift ideas include essential oil candles with refills, organic cotton un-paper towels or a reusable infuser flask. There are also some beautiful zero waste body and beauty products which are sure to delight.
Other fantastic zero waste gift ideas include experiences, vouchers for cleaning, massages, gardening, cooking classes, music or art lessons or a gift of food consciously packaged. For food gifts – why not gift Fairtrade, organic chocolate that has been ethically and sustainably sourced from cacao farmers. Or organic chai made from fair-trade tea and organic spices? Or how about a superfood, collagen or immunity powder to kickstart a loved ones health journey?
When making purchases, keep in mind where a product is coming from and the impact that transportation across the world has on contributing to greenhouse emissions. Choose to purchase products made locally if you can. You will not only be supporting small business owners and reducing your footprint on the environment, but also supporting local farmers and communities. Skincare products made with wildcrafted Australian native ingredients such as Kakadu Plum, Kangaroo Flower and Lemon Myrtle are incredibly popular and sure to impress.
Wrapping paper is one of the biggest sources of waste each Christmas and not all of it can be recycled. CARE Australia conducted a survey of more than 1000 Australians and found Australians will use an estimated 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper this Christmas. That’s the same distance as nearly 4 times around the world! Metallic wrapping, glitter encrusted paper and plastic cellophane go straight to landfill. Even the wrapping paper which does get recycled, requires more chemicals to process due to the high ink to paper ratio.
This year, why not make the sustainable swap to recycled brown paper or even better, use old newspapers, magazines or last year’s wrapping paper to wrap gifts. We also love the idea of using fabric bags, such as the gorgeous Gift Me Again bags, or old linen or fabric to wrap presents or combining the wrapping as part of the present – a tea towel or a second-hand scarf. Also make sure to use recyclable paper tape or twine so that you can be sure everything can be recycled after, and keep any special bows for next year to reuse again!
GIVE TO CHARITY
If you are stuck for a gift for someone who has everything or if you want to give something meaningful, why not gift a donation to a charity? Many charities provide gift cards or vouchers. What better gift than the promise of a better future?
McCrindle conducted a survey of over 1000 Australians in 2019 and found 48% would be genuinely happy to receive a card saying that a charitable donation has been made instead of receiving a Christmas present.
SUSTAINABLE TREES COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
The most sustainable tree options are using a living tree in a pot which you can bring inside each year or a tree made from driftwood, decorated branches or sustainably sourced timber.
If you did want a real tree, that too is a sustainable option as long as you make sure it is from a sustainable farm and at the end of its life, it is recycled back into mulch and doesn’t go to landfill. (Check with your local council to see if they organise a collection.)
If you do already have an artificial tree, the most important factor in its sustainability is to use it for as many years as possible. What stops it from being truly sustainable, is that even after a long life, it will unfortunately continue to exist for hundreds of years.
If you’re feeling creative, we’ve also seen some incredible sustainable ‘trees’ made from a creatively stacked pile of books, a decorated ladder and even a pineapple!
REUSE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
The best sustainable Christmas decorations are high quality ones which become family heirlooms and are used every year. Reuse the decorations you have already or try to thrift some vintage ones. Always look to avoid plastic and polystyrene and choose recyclable or natural materials such as glass, wood or fabric.
Other sustainable decorations include ones from nature – foraged holly, red berries, mistletoe or homemade dried orange garlands. Christmas decorations are also a great opportunity to have fun and DIY – the possibilities are endless, just make sure to use biodegradable glitter! (A favourite decoration in our house for the children to DIY is painting cicada shells gold and sticking those to the tree!)
There are now beautiful choices for conscious Christmas crackers. Reusable Christmas Crackers can be loved and enjoyed year after year and include beautifully sewn hats. There are also stunning Conscious Crackers made from 100% post-consumer paper. Both have beautiful zero waste, ethical gifts inside.
USE LED LIGHTING
When it comes to Christmas lights, make sure yours are LEDs. These use up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent lights. Make the effort to turn the lights off when you go to bed and choose lights which aren’t flashing as these use more electricity too.
EAT MORE PLANT BASED FOODS
Consider minimising your meat consumption this Christmas. Why not try a plant based main meal or if you do choose to eat meat, sourcing from a regenerative farm.
Regenerative agriculture aims to rebuild organic matter in the soil and restore soil biodiversity, working to reverse the effects of climate change. Use this as an opportunity to support a local regenerative farm.
It’s always good to aim to avoid over-catering, to prevent food waste. However, if you do miscalculate, embrace the leftovers and create new meals. Leftover cold meats and salads are wonderful sandwich fillers and you can always stock up your freezer too. There may also be the opportunity to donate to a local food bank or soup kitchen.
RECONNECT WITH NATURE
Christmas is about spending time with family and giving back. Use it as a time to reconnect with nature as well as each other and take time to enjoy time outdoors. Focus on giving back to the earth – in your garden; plant a tree together or decorate one in your garden for the birds with seed balls.
You could also attach a nesting box to a tree for a local bird or animal to make a home in or spend time cleaning up a local area. These are great activities to share the value of the importance of sustainable living with your children.