Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels
December is here together all the Christmas lights, the ornaments and the festive mood for our favorite celebrations, the dinners, and of course the traditional Christmas shopping and our special outfits! But can we combine all the “glitter” and the glow of the holidays with a more ethical attitude as consumers?
Of course, we can! How?
Find below some suggestions and ideas that will help us both enjoy the festive season and also leave the smallest possible footprint on society and the environment.
We definitely avoid plastic in gift packaging and wrapping. Christmas packaging is probably one of our favorites! Whatever our style, we will definitely find many eco-friendly options of wrapping paper, boxes and envelopes that will make us grab them from the shelf! Unfortunately, most wrapping materials – and especially those with glitter and other extraordinary embellishments – contain plastic, so their production has already burdened the environment AND they cannot be recycled. Even the simplest wrapping paper has a thin plastic film. So, we prefer packaging items from recyclable or recycled paper and, if we are in the mood, we can put our imagination to work and wrap the gifts with pieces of fabric or put them in fabric bags (from fabric with sustainable specifications always!), and many more alternative materials!
When making a shopping list and a gift list, it is best to do some research beforehand and choose quality over quantity. If we cannot reduce the number of gifts, let’s at least try to ensure that our gifts are environmentally friendly and choose something smaller so that we do not exceed our budget (sustainable items are usually more expensive than the rest). Even for children, there are gifts that are made from environmentally friendly materials and not almost 100% plastic! And it’s usually the most educational and constructive ones.
Also, what about creating gifts instead of buying? There is a vast variety of materials and ideas, and, plus, our gifts will have even greater emotional value!
Another great gift idea is to offer a service… a day trip, a spa or massage session, tickets for theater and cinema or even a subscription to an informative, educational or entertainment channel. Think about what your loved ones like, and you will surely get many ideas for such “intangible” gifts. Also, supporting an organization for the protection of the environment, animals, children or people by buying a gift from their bazaar or from their website will definitely have a double meaning and a double benefit!
Where do we buy from?
We shop ethically and locally: we prefer small businesses and shops in our neighborhood instead of the big commercial chains, who are usually not at all innocent in terms of production and human resources strategies (especially in countries where most consumer products are produced). Choose companies that clearly manifest their environmentally friendly policies and products, without spins and “hidden” information.
Seasonal small gifts when visiting friends
Instead of getting a usual Christmas (seasonal) ornament or pastry from a patisserie, you can get a bottle of good-quality wine or even make cookies, truffles or some other easy pastry, put them in one nice eco-friendly packaging and…voila! You have the perfect gift!
CLOTHES & OUTFITS
Frankly we do not need completely different outfits every year! Especially the last 2 years with the pandemic crisis and the lockdowns have definitely left in our closet clothes that have never been worn or just worn once or twice. Smart combinations or even exchanging clothes with friends can solve our dilemmas and this seasonal “problem”. Even if we finally buy the New Year’s Eve outfit, let’s choose consciously on where to buy it from and what would it be.
TIME TO DECORATE
The big deal: decorating the house! Options are countless. If you have a flair for handcrafts, without being a great artist, you can make beautiful ornaments from paper, cardboard, dried plants, and many other materials. All you need to do is search a little online and you will find countless DIY ideas for all tastes, available time and budget. And if making things with your hands is not your thing, choose ornaments from natural materials or ornaments that have durability and timeless style so that you can use them next year too. You can also consider exchanging ornaments with family and friends; this way you will all make the desired décor updates.
AND WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
An even bigger chapter: food! We all know what happens with food during the holidays, especially in countries like Greece.
First, choose organic products from certified companies, try to avoid big commercial chains and aim at quality and not quantity. And can we please leave aside the “favourite” habit of cooking huge quantities in fear of missing food? Basically…let’s think about quantity a little closer. Honestly, we do not need to buy and prepare food for 10 people when we will only be 5, because we definitely going to have left over food, which, most likely, is going to be thrown away.
We can also create a menu that will cover most of our guests’ dietary preferences. For example, if we have vegan, vegetarian and meat-loving guests, we do not need 3 different menus in huge quantities. We can prepare several flexible and smart dishes instead, i.e., we do not need to make a salad with bacon or chicken and a completely different vegetarian or vegan one; instead, we can keep the same salad base and just add the non-vegetarian / vegan ingredients in a different bowl. This is just an idea to help you think of flexible dishes for the whole group.
Finally, if there is no way escaping the “impulse” for large quantities, at least ask your guests to bring their own food containers (or get some yourself – mind to get environmentally friendly ones!) to give them a “take-away”! And, of course, keep in mind the all-time-classic and one of the basic principles in food management: food “scrapping” or leftover dishes; to put it simply: use leftover food to make a new, “fresh” dish!
So, it is true…we can actually enjoy the holidays with awareness and love for the environment, animals and people! After all, isn’t that the message of the holiday season?