It’s December at last and we sure are feeling festive!! This month’s Ethical Bride is not so much for an ethical wedding, but a little guide on how to have a more sustainable Christmas. We hope you enjoy and finds some useful ideas here, ho ho ho!!!
Please note – we don’t expect people to follow every single one of these guidelines, and understand we can’t make every single thing in our lives ethical (unless we live in a hole in the woods, probably naked and eating leaves?) but maybe, just maybe by supporting one of these ideas, we could help the world a little bit at a time. Here’s how:
one. the tree – Christmas tree oh Christmas tree! So the big question is, artificial or real? There are pros for and against. The thinking is if you buy an artificial one you will use it for the rest of your lifetime – but what about when a better one comes along, what happens to your old one? They are difficult to recycle and are often shipped long distances. Plus it is hard to know how they are made and by who. On the other hand when buying a real tree you need to think about how and where it was grown. Have they been transported many miles or come from a local business? Christmas tree farms do help to provide oxygen to the environment, but could it be time to consider keeping the same tree and replanting it each year rather than cutting it down? Try and find a supplier who is a member of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, where members are are asked to comply with a code of practice so that trees are grown to the best environmental and sustainable practice. Plus don’t forget to recycle your tree after Christmas to avoid it going to landfill.
two. the lights – did you know that Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons? Horrifying, yes! Try switching to LED bulbs, turning the lights on only when you can see them or try solar powered lights. Also see point five below!
three. natural decorations – avoid using plastic decorations and look for ethically made, natural decorations instead. Even better try making your own! We love natural decorations such as garlands of fir over the fireplace and holly wreaths on the door.
four. think seasonal – can you make Christmas dinner with locally bought, seasonal food? Seasonal veggies for December include brussels sprouts, cabbage, beetroot, leeks, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, leeks, swede and mushrooms. We love this organic cotton seasonal veg tea towel guide!
five. the candles – did you know that paraffin based candles release harmful toxins into the air? As well as not being great for the environment (they are a petroleum byproduct of crude oil as it gets refined into petrol) they also give off soot as they burn. Alternative ideas? Use 100% beeswax candles. Try Wood-Knit-Bee, Beessence, John Wood or Gold and Black Candles.
six. the food – the amount of food that goes to waste at Christmas is unbelievable. With so many of us bulk buying and stocking up to accommodate guests we often go over the top. Really think how much is needed and remember Boxing Day is all about the leftovers! Try and freeze any left over food or think of ways to make it into something else (Bubble and Squeak!) When buying your Christmas dinner, put money back into the local economy and avoid excessive food air miles by shopping local and independent. Where you can, buy organic and free range (especially that turkey!) and remember to compost those scraps.
seven. plastic free – try and avoid excessive plastic wrapping on the food shop. Shop locally at independent green grocers or farmers markets to avoid the plastic AND support the local economy. Take your own cloth reusable shopping bags and ditch the plastic bag once and for all. Don’t forget to use your lovely crockery and cutlery – avoid using horrible plastic coated paper plates and cutlery – it doesn’t save that much time anyway!! Have a look here at our Ethical Bride post dedicated to reducing plastic use.
eight. wrapping – this has got to be one of the most wasteful parts of Christmas. Many gifts are wrapped mere hours before they are unwrapped and all that paper thrown away – lots of it not even recycled or non-recyclable (we’re looking at you metallic gift wrap…) Try instead to wrap in reusable wrapping – think scarfs, tea towels (see point four for a great one!) or scraps of material that you can reuse for Christmases and birthdays aplenty. If you NEED wrapping paper then only used recycled paper or brown paper (which can be customised with stamps or doodles!) Avoid sticky tape and tie with natural twine or raffia.
nine. stocking fillers – do they really need it? Is it useful/beautiful? Then step away! Get people gifts they actually want and try to avoid the tat – most of it is poorly made plastic that will end up in landfill and not decompose. If you want to get stocking fillers try making edible gifts – homemade biscuits, chutneys or even chocolates will be much more appreciated!
ten. Christmas cards – do you even need to send them?! Reduce this enormous waste by sending e-cards or actually catch up with long lost friends over the phone or in person or even write a lovely long email! For local mates have an in person Christmas meet up and see the family on the big day 😉 If you MUST send a few cards make sure they are made from recycled or sustainable materials and can be recycled themselves.
We hope this has given you some ethical Christmas ideas! Let us know how you get on planning and do get in touch if you have a winter wedding you would like featured on the blog! For information about having an organic Christmas have a look at the Soil Association’s guide here. For more Ethical Bride posts click here.
Photography by Carola Michaela Fotografie