Over the course of the past few years I have become much for aware of what Christmas really means to me. Despite receiving a religious education as a kid up to confirmation, growing up I realized I wasn’t much of a religious person and took distance from the church and catholic religion. I have always enjoyed Christmas time (although when I was younger it was mostly because I knew I would get more than enough gifts) but it is especially since I moved abroad that I understood what this time means to me: thanks to my eco-minimalist journey I learned to cherish much more time spent with people I love and care much less about the mere mindless consumerism built around the latest fleeting trends. „Collect moments, not things“ for me has become a sort of life motto and Christmas time is no exception, whether I decide to spend it in my hometown with family and old friends, or wether I spend at home in Berlin with my „chosen family“, the friends I made here and who stay here over the holidays. So, inspired by this spirit, I‘ve put together some tips to make your Xmas more conscious and sustainable and less impactful without missing on anything.
How to be more sustainable at Christmas
Prefer gatherings to gifts, especially with people you don’t have the chance to see very often. I did it with my friends back in my hometown years ago (at some point we decided to ditch the Xmas presents between us to avoid useless gifts and waste of money to treat us to a nice dinner together instead) and keep on doing the same thing here in Berlin too. Choosing to meet over a dinner or a drink is such a nice way to catch up and spend time together before Christmas arrives, plus it is much more environmentally friendly and less focused on consumerism.
Less is more. If you decide to make some gifts, keep them minimal and simple! Oftentimes we feel „obliged“ to buy someone a gift because „you know, it‘s Christmas“, but this doesn’t mean that you have to run to the closest store and try to figure out something to buy for each one of your family members, friends and co-workers. You can still show someone that you love them without necessarily buying material items: you can choose to DIY something (DIY lotion or body scrub, homemade granola, DIY beeswax wraps like my friend Fiona from Live Conscious made, just to make a couple of examples), to gift experiences (tickets to a concert, a show, a spa day for example) or a gift card for a shop that you know that person likes (in this way the gift recipient can decide to buy whatever they fancy when they need it the most). You can even donate to charities or organizations you care about (for my parents and brother I decided to “buy a tree” for example). Or when in doubt, opt for edibles: bake a cake, get a bottle of nice wine. Edibles are things that will be consumed and won’t sit in people houses and clutter them up with the risk of being unused or untouched and are always appreciated.
Shop responsibly. Choose to buy something second hand if possible, or to support small/local businesses and/or brands that are transparent about their production chain and policies on sustainability and ethicality. If you need some gift inspiration you can check out my ethical and sustainable Christmas gift guides: between reusables, donations to organizations or charities, ethical fashion brands, second hand or DIY options, there is definitely something to choose from.
– minimalist sustainable gift guide 2019
– ethical sustainable gift guide 2018
Avoid unnecessary gift wrapping. Or, to put it simply, avoid buying any new gift wrapping material and try to use what you have already laying around. Did you know that gift wrapping paper is not recyclable? Recycle papers and wrapping materials from gifts you already received to reduce waste: you can use paper bags or old magazines/newspapers and use natural materials and ribbons to decorate (cotton thread, recycled ribbons, cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, dried flowers etc.) . Otherwise you can get creative and use other things, like glass containers, cute fabrics or handkerchiefs. The same goes for greeting cards and tags: make your own little cards out of paper or cardboard you already have at home and personalize it as you like using what you already own.
DIY decor (and make it last). When it comes to decor, you can DIY it (for example by making handmade advent calendars, Christmas tree using upcycled materials, a wreath using natural materials like dried orange or cinnamon sticks). If you choose to buy some decor, make sure to choose something that you will use and reuse over the years and take good care of it (my mum still has the tree decorations she bought when my brother and I were little kids!). You can also use LED lights or soy based candles to create a nice cozy atmosphere in your home with less of an evironmental impact.
Avoid food waste and don’t overbuy food! Food is definitely a big component of gatherings at Christmas time, but the tendency is to buy too much of it. Be mindful and try not to waste any of it: if you have leftovers you can decide to freeze them and consume it over the next days or weeks, or you can donate it to organizations that work to help homeless or people in need (or even donate it directly to them if you happen to meet them on the street). Food should never be wasted considering that 2/3 of the world lives in poverty, and this should be kept in mind especially during Christmas, when it seems like a shame if there isn’t a huge abundance of food on our tables. We should always remind ourselves of how lucky and privileged we are not having to worry to bring lots of food in our homes. So let’s buy and eat mindfully 🙂
Eat less meat and less animal products. We all know how harmful the meat, dairy and fish industry are for the planet. Try to be mindful about the consumption of these products and, if possible, try to reduce your it and replace some of your favorite festive dishes with vegan options.
I hope this little ethical Christmas guide will give you some good inspiration for a more conscious festivity celebration. How will you spend your Xmas? Do you have more tips to add to this list? I’d love to know!
I’ll talk to you soon!