Mothering during a ‘quiet’ time of the year can be all-consuming, exhausting, and a challenge of endurance and ingenuity. Then, as the festive period approaches, we’re expected to find extra hours in our days to prepare, cook, clean, and decorate for the big day. It’s easy for our environmental responsibilities to get lost in the chaos of the festive period. We make impulsive buys with tired toddlers wrapped around our legs, and we get swept along in the mad rush of consumerism, succumbing to the mass marketing bombarding our lives and the minds of our little people through advertising.
What if, instead of grappling with bouts of intense consumerism during the run-up to Christmas, we went green this Christmas! There are so many easy ways you can make a difference for the planet. Your actions might even inspire others around you. Let’s make conscious decisions, be mindful, and make good choices. So, along with your Twelve Days of Christmas, here are twelve ways you can help make a positive environmental impact this Christmas…and all year-round!
1) Use Reusable
When you are out sourcing gifts for your friends and loved ones or purchasing your festive grocery haul, remember to take along your reusable bags when you shop. Carry tote bags in your car and use cloth bags for fruits and veggies instead of plastic. But don’t stop there! There are lots of things you can reuse! Cloth napkins, reusable cups and no paper plates this holiday season. It may mean a few extra minutes of clean up, but it will feel so good to have not created any garbage.
2) Support Fair Trade
This Christmas, insist the coffee, chocolate, and other products and produce you buy are fair trade. Whether you’re buying gifts or looking for a cozy café nook to relax in mid-shop, ensure your venue supports fair trade initiatives; to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions, and to promote sustainable farming. Members of the movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards.
3) Purchase Organic Cotton Tees
What better gift for your friends, partner, kiddies, or even for yourself? Cotton is the second-most chemically sprayed crop in the USA. Non-organic tee shirts require a third of a pound of synthetic fertilizers. When you wear your new organic tee you will feel the earth giving you a great big hug. You’ll look and feel great about your purchase.
4) Go Local for Food
When seeking venues for Christmas get-togethers, festive occasions and parties, try to support local restaurants that are supplied by local farmers and producers. Your last meal may have traveled 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Do your research and find local food sources near you; winter farmers markets and conscientious supermarkets all offer a good selection of locally grown produce. Buying local helps to conserve fuel, reduce pollution, and enjoy farm fresh food.
5) Go Meat-Free
Whether you’re out during the festive period or staying home and eating in on these cozy nights, choosing even one meat-free meal per week can make a big difference. According to the Vegan Society, the production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment; from grain crops and the volume of water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork.
6) Do less laundry
Wear clothes for several days and hang clothes on a rack to dry. Christmas is crazy busy for us all, why waste precious time doing unnecessary laundry? Save time, energy and natural resources.
7) Clean Up Your Cleaning Routine
For the big clean up after all those Christmas dishes, try switching to a plant-based, biodegradable dishwashing liquid or tablet. These cleaners cut through grease and grime with the same ease as chemical products, but without all the chemicals threatening river and marine life and that leave nasty residues.
8) Give the Gift of Experience
Rather than purchasing ‘stuff,’ why not use the opportunity to gift a special experience or event/adventure, where memories can be created rather than landfill bulk?
9) Choose Your Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Make-up Wisely
Products made from natural (plant-based) ingredients are always kinder to your skin and the environment. Look for strict criteria that disallows the use of synthetic fertilizers in farming, or strong chemicals used to clean equipment in labs; and ensure that tests have not been performed on animals.
10) Green Christmas Decorations
Choose LED lights which use less electricity than traditional Christmas lights. Plastic decorations, glitter, tinsel, and baubles not only contain harmful chemicals, but also need replacing which creates lots of garbage. Consider more natural and old-fashioned decoration ideas like fresh green wreaths, pine cones, dried fruits, and plants, which are all compostable after Christmas.
11) Stocking Fillers
Rather than more plastic bric-a-brac, why not go the old-fashioned route and include oranges, nuts and seeds, or maybe homemade items like socks, mittens, playdoh, or bath bombs. Buy local if you can!
12) Be Mindful of Packaging
Choose products with little to no packaging. Use gift wrap and Christmas cards from recycled paper or simply made, reusable cloth bags.