The Boiler House

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6 Ways to Make your Christmas Low Impact

The season to be jolly is fast approaching.. yet Christmas rarely seems to ever be stress-free. Could it be that the consumerist extravaganza part is not aligned with our values anymore? Not to mention our planet is begging us for some extra attention. So this year lets make that extra effort to keep our Christmas celebrations as low impact as possible.

With few of the eco-creative ideas listed below, you can still give your home that festive feel! Anything currently lying around your abode could be repurposed and reused, reducing the impact your celebrations have on Earth. And remember, just as “Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling”, zero-waste is not an end goal. It’s a state of mind!

1. Forage Your Decorations

Forget glitter and tinsel, natural foliage is where it’s at. Collecting biodegradable Christmassy items will give you a chance to return to nature and give your abode that rustic festive feeling. Holly, ivy, chestnuts and pine cones are seasonal classics that can never go wrong. Cinnamon and rosemary sticks smell and look lush, while star anise, cloves and nutshells are excellent for adding finishing touches.

If you’ve got a bunch of kids to entertain (or your inner child alone), you could have fun making your own eco-decor with scrap pieces of wood, and those extra buttons and other bits and pieces that seem to amass around the house over the months. Alternatively, you could have fun digging out family heirlooms.

2. Choose Eco-lights

Lights are one of the best things about Christmas in the Northern hemisphere. When darkness is thrust upon us from as early as 4 pm, we need all the light we can get… even if artificial!

However, no matter how pretty, the twinkling, traditional incandescent Christmas lights are highly wasteful. Switching to LED over the Christmas holidays could save us, as a nation, £11 million on electricity bill and 29000 tonnes CO2. Thankfully there’s plenty of options in terms of solar-powered, indoor and outdoor LED lights!

If you can’t get enough of a candle-lit Christmas ambience, organic hand-made organic candles are the best option. Paraffin candles are a big no-no because paraffin is petroleum-based. Personally, we love Otter’s&Co coconut and soy-based vegan candles. They’re handmade in small batches in South London, and are paraben and cruelty-free!

3. Rent Your Party Essentials

Not enough party glasses at home? This year you can hire some from Waitrose and Partners for free! All you have to do is place your order at the Welcome desk at your local Waitrose & Partners store. They offer champagne flutes, wine glasses, half-pint and pint glasses.

Why not do the same with your Christmas tree? The Costwolds Fir Christmas Tree Shop has been running the service since the start of the decade, but interest in their Rental Claus tree hire has ascended to a higher realm this year. They grow the traditional Norway spruce trees in big pots; you can choose to rent the same live tree year after year and return it after the merriment is over. They’ll stick it back in the field and look after it for another 47 weeks until you’re ready to re-decorate it all over again! Live trees capture CO2 so you’re actively reducing your carbon footprint by doing so!

4. Make Your DIY Tree

When it comes to trees, the more natural, the better. It’s true, artificial trees last longer, but you’d have to use yours for about 20 years to make it the greener option. However, once the season is over, remember that your live tree is recyclable! It can generally get shredded into chippings and used in local parks or woodland areas. Check with your local authority, as many around the country will be arranging collection timeslots or drop-off point during and after the festivities. Enter your postcode into this Recycling Locator tool to find out more details.

Otherwise, you could invest some of your free time and creative energy to work into making your own sustainable DIY-Christmas. Driftwood trees seem to be all the rage at the moment (but are obviously only easy to source if you live by the coast.) Our personal favourite is this ladder Christmas tree. Isn’t it just a stroke of genius? Revamp this unassuming household staple with last year’s (or decade’s) decorations and you’re automatically low impact!

5. Scrap your Wrapping Paper

During the 2017 festivities, 108 million papers rolls were thrown out in our country alone. That’s a massive amount of waste! So if you can use that fun, uber-colourful wrapping paper from last year, you’re already lowering your impact. In general, the funkier your paper looks, the more unsustainable it is. A homemade method to assess sustainability is to scrunch it up. If it stays scrunched then it can probably be recycled; if not, then it is most likely layered with different materials that aren’t biodegradable or recyclable.

An old school trick would be to use paper from broadsheets lying around the house. If you fear this might convey little of the thoughtfulness that has gone into your gift, an ancient trick can come to your rescue. The ingenious Japanese art of wrapping gifts with fabric, Furoshiki. A perfect way to make your presents look neat and embrace the eco-friendly lifestyle. This video shows you how to make a traditional Furoshiki wrap in less than 2 minutes.

6. Give Re-purposed Gifts

Opting out from gift-giving altogether would put an end to the massive waste emergency we are facing. However, for those who don’t feel it would be a viable option, second-hand gifting is the most sustainable alternative.

They might have made you look cheap in the over-the-top 90s or the flashy Naughties, but at the end of twenty-tens, re-purposed, up-cycled gifts are the new cool. Forget about the old stigma and forge a new, sustainable gift tradition amongst your loved ones. After all, London and the UK are a hub of great charity shops that can help you find sustainable gifts without breaking the bank!

Most charity shops these days offer online shopping options for those who find themselves racing against the pre-holiday crunch! Our favourite is The Big Issue Shop where you can “Shop with a Social Echo.”

If you’re looking for inspiration on low impact gifts, why not come and get some from our sustainably creative retailers at the Boiler House’s Conscious Christmas Markets? They’re set to take place on the last two weekends before Christmas. And on Sunday 7th December, we’ve invited the Zero Waste Christmas Market in. Oh, come all ye faithful eco-worriers!

The Boiler House Market
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