With the holiday season almost upon us, and this time of year being when most of us shop, eat, drink and attend events more than any other time, we’ve come up with 6 of our favourite ways to keep it sustainable.
Plan your meals – reduce the waste!
With a dramatic increase in household waste over the Christmas season, we think it’s high time everyone thinks a bit more about they can do their bit. This doesn’t mean not indulging in a few extravagances, but it does mean doing a bit of thinking ahead… Don’t bowl into a big shop without thinking through how many people are going to be there, what you’ll be having, and whether any leftovers can be repurposed in the next meal. *Top Tip* clear space in your freezer right now. You might not feel like it at 4pm on Christmas Day, but we guarantee a week later you’ll be grateful of an easily warmed up supper.
Less meat for festive treats
Christmas seems to attract us towards meat focussed meals, but making some small changes can help reduce your meat consumption over the holidays. If you haven’t already done your Christmas shop try swapping pork sausages for veggie sausages in your pigs in blankets, go for a mushroom pate instead of chicken liver, and maybe forego a fry up on Christmas morning in favour of something lighter, it’s not like you’re going to be short on food at Christmas dinner, and you heart will thank you too! If you’re feeling really committed to a plant based diet, maybe you could try this roast watermelon as a replacement for a festive bird. If you do, we’d love to know how it tastes!
With the average family spending £660 on gifts each holiday season , now is the time to shop with your feet. Shopping locally not only benefits the local economy, but also has potential for reducing transport pollution. It’s also the time to pay attention to whether the brands you’re buying are doing the right thing. A little bit of research can go a long way.
Read the label; recycle right
During the rest of the year, you’re mostly in the rhythm of recycling the things you regularly buy, following your local authorities guidelines (you are, right?!). But at Christmas you end up with a melting pot of unfamiliar product packaging and you (or your guests) being in unfamiliar recycling territory. Recycling contamination costs lots to sort, and can often compromise the recycling taking place at all. If you’ve got guests, make sure they know what goes in what bin (maybe with some festive signage) and if you’re a guest, make sure you know the deal. Most of all, when out on your shop, give yourself the time to read the label, and see if you can maximise your recyclable packaging quota, or just try to avoid that pesky plastic packaging in the first place.
It’s rare to get the time to reflect and make plans, but the Christmas period sometimes gives moments of space to think and get on top of the things you hadn’t in the past. Thinking of switching to a renewable energy supplier? Take the 20 mins to do it. Been meaning to get those home DIY projects to be more efficient underway? Make that plan. Outraged by something happening locally to you? Write that email to your MP. Up for a challenge? Try beating this.
Forget the Christmas jumper
Unfortunately, despite getting plus points at the office Christmas party, the growing trend for a festive jumper is a prime example of wasteful fast fashion, and because they’re mostly made of plastic, cause further problems. With an estimated 2 in 5 thrown away after just one wear , its worth thinking about whether that purchase is really worth it. If you’re a Christmas jumper fan, we’d encourage you to find that rare one in the charity shop and treasuring for many years rather than buying new and chucking out. Alternatively, you could opt for something festive, but not strictly Christmassy, which you can wear through the winter. Our favourite jumper this season is from sustainable clothing brand Rapanui, it looks like Christmas Trees but would be acceptable year round, and it carries a poignant message.
Above all, don’t feel burdened to be your perfect sustainable self, but recognise that making small changes in the right direction along with encouraging others can make a big difference. Set achievable goals (consuming less/ consuming better/ wasting less) and don’t give up.
Any other top tips? Let us know in the comments.
Happy Holidays from The Totem Sustainability Team.