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Total Swindon’s Five Steps to a Sustainable Christmas

“There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it.” David Attenborough

We may have only a few shopping days until Christmas, but according to experts we only have twelve years to save the planet.

In the UK alone, we throw away 74 million mince pies, 5 million Christmas puddings and 2 million turkeys. And create 30% more waste in the festive season than any other time of year.

To help you make the environment the top Christmas recipient this season, we at TGt Swindon have listed our five steps to a sustainable Christmas. Because we believe your actions, however small, will make a difference to our planet’s future.

1/ Unique wrapping

Love it or loath it wrapping presents is a crucial feature of Christmas and globally we are predicted to use approximately 364,700 km - enough to stretch around the equator nine times!

Ensure yours does not add to the ever-increasing seasonal landfill by choosing an alternative wrapping this year;

Eco-friendly brown paper and natural decorations

Brown paper is not only cheap but recyclable. Personalise wrapping through drawings, stamps or natural embellishments, i.e. cinnamon sticks, sliced oranges and fir cones. The beauty of this eco-friendly wrapping is it is not just for Christmas and can be used for all occasions.

Fair Trade, FSC Certified Recycled Wrapping Paper

If you cannot bring yourself to ditch the decorative paper, make a difference by choosing Fairtrade, FSC or recycled. A wrapping paper with colour as well as a conscience.

Personalised wrap

Personalising your wrap allows you not only to recycle but use your imagination. Why not wrap your gifts in old maps, magazines, picture book pages, wallpaper and fabrics? Tell a story with your wrapping as well as your gift. Remember reusing means less refuse.

2/ Potted tree / Alternative trees

We buy over six million trees in the UK at Christmas, most of which are thrown out and create over 9000 tonnes of additional rubbish.

To reduce waste and continue the tree tradition which dates back in the UK to the early 19th century. There are now various environmentally friendly alternatives on offer, here are just a few;

Rent a potted Christmas tree

Swapping to a potted Christmas tree is one way to ensure yours does not end up in landfill. You will not only benefit from the scent of a real tree in your home, but air quality will be improved when it is replanted after the festivities are over.

Upcycling alternative tree

Christmas is all about traditions, but they also can be reworked. Why not upcycle your Christmas tree with our alternative ideas;

Driftwood tree

A tree without the waste. Driftwood trees are ideal where space is limited and guarantee no dropped needles.

Either space and stack wooden branches on your wall ready for decorations, or, tie driftwood together with rope/string, ready for hanging and lights.

Book tree

As bookworms, we love the idea of making our literary friends a feature at Christmas time. Stack and wrap a few festive lights around your tower. Then when it is all over return them to the bookshelf.

Mural tree

When it comes to low maintenance a mural tree is versatile and the perfect solution.

  • Draw and decorate a chalkboard wall with a festive tree.
  • Take a plain hessian fabric and draw your perfect tree.
  • Or, get creative with washi tape (Japanese stationary tape) and stick your tree to the wall. It can be as simple, or detailed, as you wish and promises to give something different each year.

3/ Locally sourced Christmas lunch

Support the local economy and the environment through a locally sourced Christmas lunch.

  • Bring containers for your food purchases to minimise waste and reduce environmental impact.
  • Buy local produce to reduce your impact on the environment through transportation of your dinner.
  • Work with nature by going organic. Organic means higher levels of animal welfare, fewer pesticides, and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife.

4/ Recycled and upcycled decorations

Scientists have widely documented glitter’s impact on our environment calling for its ban to stop the microplastic from causing further ecological harm to our oceans.

Fortunately, nature provides an abundance of biodegradable decorative alternatives to deck your tree and home.

Natural decorations

  • Dried oranges: slice up some oranges and pop them in the oven after cooking, as the oven is cooling down. The oven must be switched off or set to a very low temperature (no more than 100 degrees). Alternatively, put your sliced oranges in an airing cupboard or another warm, dry place to dry out slowly.
  • Tie a cinnamon stick with unbleached string to make a naturally scented decoration.
  • Collect fir cones to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Oranges studded with cloves. A scented festive treat.
  • Or, bake your own homemade gingerbread cookie decorations.

Upcycled decorations

Creative use of waste can result in unique and unusual decorations; left over baubles can become Christmas wreathes and drink can ring pulls tree decorations. To help kickstart your imagination, here are a few of our suggestions;

  • Reuse old book pages to create original decorations. Cut, fold and create your desired shape from Christmas angels to stars.
  • Stick old Christmas card pictures or wrapping paper into jar lids.
  • Turn old cookie cutters into decorations.

5/ Presents and gifts

2018 is the year of gifting experiences as opposed to physical presents. However, if you would prefer to give a wrapped present to friends and family make it sustainable through ethically sourced, homemade or upcycled gifts.

Artisan and Christmas markets

Artisan and Christmas markets offer a wealth of benefits boosting visitors to the high street, supporting local suppliers and providing sustainable Christmas gift options. Markets can also help provide a clear understanding of where, when and how gifts have been made. Speak to stall holders to learn more about your potential purchases as producers they will be more than happy to share.

Upcycling and Homemade gifts

There is no greater gift than one made from love. By making your gifts, you are showing an investment of time as well as thought. Why not incorporate upcycling when making your homemade gifts with TGt’s suggested gift ideas;

  • DIY recipe jars are a great way to reuse jars and produce a low-cost thoughtful gift. We particularly love chocolate brownies and soup recipes but feel free to tailor to your recipient.
  • Candle tea cups helps use up crockery that has seen better days and old candle stubs.
  • Create chalk boards using an old photo or mirror frame. Paint backing with blackboard paint and stick on scrabble letters to create personalised memo boards.

Remember sustainable living need not only be practiced at Christmas. We can buy locally sourced produce, homemade gifting and original wrapping all year around. Sustainable living is a great way, to bring happiness to loved ones and help make an environment a better place for all.

By Emma Smith

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