1. Donate unwanted toys
2. Use art to make Christmas card and wrapping paper
3. If you give stuff stick to the want, need, wear, read rule
4. Give experiences not stuff
I am a huge fan of buying experiences for people. Last year my husband and I got each other tickets to see a band. I’ve got the girls season passes to zoos, museums, and aquariums on past Christmases. This has the added bonus of giving opportunities for us to spend time together throughout the year which is really important to our family.
5. Buy local or secondhand
If I need to buy a gift I do checkout my local Salvation Army. I almost always pick up a great book or two, and the Salvos had helped fill our board game cupboard. If I need to buy something new I try to support local businesses, visiting the markets are a great place to find beautiful handmade gifts which have less of an impact on the environment that other options.
6. Make your own gifts
Now I do happen to be quite a crafty person, so making gifts doesn’t seem as daunting as it might to other people. I once handmade an entire ice cream stand out of cardboard and felt for my daughters birthday, and another time a pair of silk and lace fairy wings. If I can’t find the perfect thing, I’m not afraid to have a go at making the perfect gift.
7. Don’t be guilted into keeping up with the Joneses
This year I know families who are buying all their kids new bikes, or another new laptops. It’s easy to feel like you are depriving your kids of something that every other kid is getting. But. I don’t need to buy things just because everyone else is, and you don’t either! I always explain to my kids why certain toys are not great for the environment and we explore alternatives that have less of an impact. My eldest is of an age now where we can have chats about consumerism and marketing strategies, she’s getting great as spotting the latest fad for herself.
8. Make decorations out of stuff you already have
I avoid buying single use decorations, I haven’t brought any new decorations this year but do have a lot of plastic baubles and tinsel that I reuse from previous years. The girls and I also make decorations too, look up a simple salt dough recipe and get creating. Cut out snowflakes or make paper chains as a way to recycle paper. Google has loads of ideas on ways to make Christmas decorations out of bottles, cans, magazines etc… you are only limited by your imagination.
9. The tree
Now this is a tricky one, the great debate on what is more sustainable. I personally already own a plastic tree, and as long as a keep using it and it doesn’t end up in landfill, this is the most sustainable choice for my family. However, I know a lot of families who purchase live trees each year, again, as long as it is composted properly this might be the right option for your family. Do your research and see what is the best fit for you.
Plan your menu, only buy what you need, and whatever is not used compost ( or give to the chickens in our case)! Christmas is a time of over indulgence for many of us; keep reducing food waste in the back of your mind when making food purchases. Many people panic about the shops closing for a day or two and over buy. If you know you are going to be away over the holiday period, buy less so it doesn’t go to waste.
Alyce Kirk, is Banish's resident Parenting Editor and mum of two girls who is kicking goals when it comes to reducing her families footprint and wants to empower her kids to make the best choices for our beautiful planet.