“We touch plastic more often than people we love”
This is a sad fact, observed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in their Plastic Atlas 2019. Since 1950, 9.2 billion tons of plastic have been produced, and 56% of this plastic has actually been produced in the past 15 years! Today, plastic is everywhere: in everyday objects, in packaging, in our clothes, our public transportation. It gets in the ground, in the water, even in the air, as microplastics. And according to this report, we eat up to 5 grams of plastic each day (as much as a credit card).
Having a plastic-free Christmas: yes you can!
This year, you've decided that plastic won't be invited at the table. But how can you concretely do that? You could use plastic-free Christmas decorations, cook a plastic-free dinner, and offer plastic-free gifts to your loved ones. Here are some ideas to give a little help.
Plastic-free, sustainable Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations are very often made of pure plastic, even though they don’t look like it. Prefer sustainable material (like wooden decorations) which you can reuse each year, and follow these tips:
- Use the Christmas decorations you already have at home (yes, they are still fine).
- Look for second-hand christmas decorations (check second-hand stores, ebay, or Facebook groups)
- Organise a “Xmas decoration swap” with your close friends on whatsapp: this doesn’t cost a thing, and will make a cool activity for December.
- If you really want to buy new ones, prefer decorations made from eco-friendly materials like wood, metal, fabric, clay or glass. Pine cones and spices also make nice decorations.
- You can also sew or knit your own zero waste christmas decoration. If you can reuse the old fabrics around the house (old clothes, bed sheets, napkins…), it’s even better!
- Remember these little ribbons inside new clothes, which you always cut off and have no idea what to do with? Take these little colorful ribbons, and make little bows to hang on your christmas tree. Long live upcycled deco.
- For the christmas lights, put candles in a few glass jars, warm feeling guaranteed!
- Instead of buying a huge christmas tree, use the green plants you already have at home, and decorate them “like a christmas tree”. Your christmas olive tree, or christmas Yuka could be quite the hit of the season.
Ideas for a Plastic-free Christmas dinner
Christmas this year will be atypical, and we might not celebrate it as we usually do. So let’s turn it into something positive, and not harmful to the planet.
- Buy unpackaged groceries in a Zero Waste / Plastic-Free / Bulk / Refill shop. In Germany they are called “Unverpacktladen”.
- Get your food at your local market, and bring your own containers and boxes, so that you can more easily avoid plastic bags and wraps.
- Order your vegetables, bread, eggs from a local producer (Demeter), they will deliver a box to your door, without using any plastic packaging.
- Try plastic-free recipes: for instance, making cookies with oats that come in plastic-free packaging.
- For the kids, avoid sodas and other plastic bottles on the table. Try to buy glass bottles instead, from Fritz Kola, Leev, or local lemonade manufacturers.
- For the table, get fabric tablecloths and napkins, which you can reuse each year.
- A point of honour: avoid plastic cups and glasses. Use glass instead!
- You can use a flower bouquet, pine cones, dried fruit, cinnamon sticks, green plants, or candles as plastic-free table decorations.
Plastic-free Christmas gifts ideas: turn your values into a present
A “plastic-free gift” is a present that is not made of plastic, not protected in plastic packaging, and not wrapped with plastic. Well, we know, it’s easier said than done. Living your values is quite hard at Christmas. You could also ask your family or friends not to give you anything that contains plastic. We hear you already sighing in despair; how can I explain this to my family?
The principle of a plastic-free Christmas is trying to get out of this consumption society mentality, that dictates that, to show people that you love them, you have to consume a lot and buy everybody some random gifts, that they will kinda like... But will probably end up in a drawer, or on eBay. Many stores and small companies offer plastic-free or zero waste products that will make great presents. Do all gifts have to be new? Does it actually have to be something that you bought?
10 ideas of plastic-free gifts:
- A soap from terrorists of beauty (of course!): The sample box is also a good idea: they can try the 4 blocks, and discover which one fits their skin and hair at best.
- Zero-waste online shops: websites like Avocado Store and New Normal offer a wide selection of zero-waste, sustainable products, which can make a great plastic-free gift.
- Plastic-free toys for the kids: prefer toys made of wood, natural fabric, or cotton.
- Sustainable clothes: many eco-fashion brands, such as Bridge & Tunnel , create clothing made of natural fibres or upcycled materials. Additionally, verify that the clothes are not a mix of fibres, for example 90% cotton and 10% polyester, because these also cannot be recycled.
- A book on plastic-free living: the perfect christmas present for your mom! Other books can be a good idea too, so go to your local bookstore to get inspired.
- A gift from a local store: small boutiques have been particularly suffering since COVID, and they are having a rough year. A pair of gloves or a bracelet bought in a local shop is not only something special, but also avoids plastic and other cardboard packaging which you get when ordering online. Here you can find a list of all local shops that sell our soaps: they have also many more beautiful things to discover!
- Second hand gifts: Do gifts always have to be new? You can avoid spreading more plastic by making it a second hand Christmas with your family.
- A scarf you knitted yourself: if you have the skills, go for it.
- A poem or a song: gifts don’t have to be material to have value. A very personal gift will show more love than a random pair of socks. So be creative!
- A photo album: shared memories are the best gift!
Zero-waste gift wrapping ideas
Caution: gift-wrappings and ribbons are very often made of plastic, and will serve only 10 minutes before they end up in the trash. Try to wrap your gifts into old paper, newspaper, old magazines or paper bags you already have at home, and use a piece of string or a biodegradable curling ribbon to tie them up. You can also use the Japanese technique of Furoshiki to wrap your gifts into a nice fabric, which you can reuse every year.
Minimising the number of gifts
Not everyone has to get a gift for each person. Instead, you can decide to make a lucky draw in advance, and each person gets to offer one gift to one of the relatives. This way, you have more time to focus on this gift, and to try and understand what he or she would really like to have for Christmas. What would make his daily life a bit nicer?
Beauty is not made of plastic
We believe that beauty is created in nature, and it shines from every human being. You don't have to make yourself beautiful. You are already beautiful. You just need to find the things that reveal your true beauty. Christmas should be about spending time together, even if we have to do it virtually. It should not be about giving each other more plastic. We hope this article was helpful, and we wish you a merry, plastic-free Christmas!