IT’s true, Christmas is just around the corner and employees are looking forward to receive their 13th and 14th month plus cash bonuses (for government workers) and performance bonus (to workers in private firms). And that would mean a long list of gifts to buy for friends, loved ones and godchildren.
When it comes to decorations, many prefer to use natural materials like real trees, branches and twigs. But to some, they still stick to non-recyclable décor including disposable partyware that would only clog the drainage and add to piles of trash after the holidays.
But by shopping local, crafting your own gifts, upcycling, and reducing waste, you can not only make the Christmas season more sustainable (cutting your carbon footprint), you can also save money and have a positive impact on your community. Here’s how:
* Choose alternative Christmas trees. Heady pine and fir are some of the most evocative Christmas scents, but the gorgeous trees are only on display for a few weeks before ending up in the discard pile at the curb. Extend the life of your Christmas tree by purchasing a live potted tree. If you live in a small space like in condo, you can also create a Christmas tree alternative by decorating a potted plant. You can even craft or purchase a tree made from cardboard or wood, which will last for years with no messy needles to clean up. If you still crave that all-natural evergreen scent, wreaths and swags are a more sustainable choice, as they’re made from the boughs of live trees that can be harvested again and again.
* Use natural and recycled decorations. Christmas decorations are fun and easy to make, whether at home, with kids, or even at your office. Make your own recycled cardboard Christmas village, upcycled wreath, or reuse old Christmas cards to make a garland. It’s also sustainable and seasonal to decorate with materials collected from nature, like pinecones, pine boughs, and holly.
* Skip disposables. We understand you do not want to wash aplenty of plates, utensils and cook wares, but using disposable plates is not so healthy for you and to the environment. Instead of using disposable paper napkins, cups and plastic silverware at Christmas parties this year, use dishes and cloth napkins instead. Not only are they reusable, but you can shop thrift stores to find charming mismatched sets of china and dishes that you’ll use again and again. If you must use disposable, spring for unbleached compostable products that reduce toxins and break down more easily than conventional disposables.
* Recycled gift wrap. It’s not the wrapper that counts, it’s the gift and giver that really count. Keep bags of trash out of the landfill by creating your own simple gift wrap from recycled shopping bags or brown kraft paper. You can also spruce up the packaging by making your own stamps from potatoes and other veggies.
* Make DIY gifts. Crafting your own gifts can be a rewarding experience, and personal gifts are always meaningful. You can take it one step further by using recycled and sustainable materials. Try at making a tiny terrarium, scented pomanders, or herbed salts and sugars for baking.
* Burn clean. If you’re planning to use candles to add warmth on your dining table, buy candles made from beeswax, soy or vegetable wax instead of candles made from petroleum-derived paraffin. Beeswax has a sweet all-natural aroma that will scent your home as you light the night.