Plastic Free Christmas


All I want for Christmas is less plastic waste!

With so much excitement surrounding many elements of Christmas, being environmentally conscious can sometimes be difficult to think about.

Research shows that waste can double during the Christmas period, and most of it is plastic from gift wrapping and packaging. In the UK we go through more than 40 million rolls of (mostly plastic) sticky tape every year, and use enough wrapping paper to go around the Equator nine times. Along with this around 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food is discarded over the festive period.

“Unfortunately, Christmas fun can often come made of, or wrapped in, single use plastic. Don’t worry though, as by making a few changes this Christmas you can make the most of the festive season while stemming the (yule) tide of plastic pollution.” Rosie, a campaigner from Friends of the Earth.

How to have a better, greener Christmas this year:
  • Advent calendar
    • Online advent calendar – every day a different activity to do, like colouring, baking, subscription to a magazine
  • Cards
    • Look out for ‘recycled card’, recyclable card and NO GLITTER (glitter is usually made from plastic and if so makes cards impossible to recycle)
  • Trees
    • If you already have a plastic tree, it makes sense to keep using it.
    • Natural trees obviously avoid plastic (although many are netted in plastic), but are not without a carbon footprint linked to transport.
    • Do you have a tree in your garden or in a pot that can double-up as a Christmas tree?
    • There are also tree-rental companies (Link for more info)
  • Decorations
    • Make your own (link from Pebblemag)
    • Paper chains
    • Make bunting from scrap materials / old fabric
    • Collect colourful boxes from cereals etc. through the year to cut up for Christmas decorations
    • Collecting and drying leaves/pine cones/holly/berries/oranges/cloves/natural items for decorations
    • Decorations made from salt and flour (saltdough) baked and painted
    • Willow for wreaths
    • Popcorn, cranberries and gingerbread biscuits strung around the tree
  • Tape
    • Sellotape now sells ‘plastic-free’ sellotape
    • Purchase paper tape INSTEAD OF single-use plastic tape
      • Our Plastic Free Champion, Steph’s Sustainable Stuff (on Chesterfield market every Monday, Thursday and Saturday) is selling paper tape
  • Wrapping paper
    • Brown paper for wrapping and decorating it with pens/ink stamps/potato stamps
    • Wrapping without glitter
    • Fabric wrapping / old head scarves
    • Furoshiki – the Japanese art of wrapping presents in reusable cloths/scarfs
    • Make fabric bags for presents
    • Use reusable cotton drawstring bags
    • Use fabric bags you get with bedding as bags
    • Use newspaper or magazines for wrapping
    • Use old maps for wrapping paper
    • Using last year’s calendar as wrapping paper
    • Use loo roll packaging for wrapping
    • Use festive string for wrapping
      • Our Chesterfield Plastic Free Champion, Steph’s Sustainable Stuff (on Chesterfield Market every Monday, Thursday and Saturday) is selling this
    • Green garden string is re-usable and looks festive
  • Gift tags
    • Use old cards as gift tags
  • Presents
    • Start with ‘The Ethical Hierarchy of Gift Purchasing’
    • Support our Chesterfield Plastic Free Champions selling products that help you to reduce your single-use plastic, such as bar soaps, shampoo bars, reusable face wipes, shower scrubbies, reusable nappies, home decor etc.
    • Buy second hand gifts
    • Consider making your own presents e.g. pickles and chutneys, hand-sewn and knitted items, made with love.
    • Buy a tree to be planted
    • Planter with bulbs
    • Packets of seeds
    • Grow your own loofahs!
    • Compostable plant pots – (someone bought a borage plant in a coir pot from Nottcutts)
    • Make your own plant pots out of newspaper
    • Drying veg in a dehydrator as gifts
    • Food hamper of fair trade food
    • Cook Christmas Dinner and give that as a present
    • Baking biscuits / cakes
    • Make your own Xmas puddings
    • Share old LEGO instead of buying new
    • Make your own body care and cleaning products
    • Reusing containers like washed ketchup bottles with refilled shower gel
    • Favour vouchers – e.g. run a bath, make a coffee, bake a cake, cook a meal, buying jigsaws, baby-sitting, dog walking
    • A music lesson with a piano teacher – focusing on The Snowman theme
    • Experiences like days out – treating people to things they might not have treated themselves to
    • Zipworld vouchers – they are OK to use for 2 years and were 2-4-1 last week
    • Theatre tickets
    • Gardening vouchers
    • Quizzler – quizzes and games subscription
    • Charity Water – they encourage people to donate their Christmas present money to the charity which digs wells and puts in pumps and taps
    • Toilet Twinning – Pay £60 to have a toilet built somewhere and get a framed picture to put in your loo
    • Get a Kiva loan – micro finance for people who can’t get a loan from a bank
  • Crackers
    • Make your own crackers (Link from Housebeautiful.com)
    • Instead of crackers, write a bad joke each
    • Plastic-Free crackers – supermarkets selling these including Morrisons, Asda, Booths.
    • Asda sells empty plastic free crackers so you can fill them yourselves
    • Kids to create mini artwork as cracker fillers
    • Competition to make hats out of wrapping paper
    • Buy the ‘pop’ element of crackers so we can make our own and they can still ‘pop’
  • Food and drink
    • Purchase loose tea and coffee
      • Our Plastic Free Champions, Cup & Saucer and Steph’s Sustainable Stuff sells this. Northern Tea Merchants also sell loose.
    • Purchase loose products such as cinnamon sticks and nutmeg along with herbs, spices, and cupboard pantry items (e.g. herbs, spices, pasta, rice, cereals)
      • Our Plastic Free Champion, Steph’s Sustainable Stuff sells all of this
    • Wine is plastic free!
    • Go to the butchers and greengrocers and bring your own containers (there tends to be more local produce there too)
    • Make food from scratch rather than buying in products wrapped in plastic

Other links