Tips for a Gloriously Green Festive Season!

It’s time to start planning for a gloriously green festive season! 2020 has been a roller-coaster of a year and this festive season might look different for a lot of us, but we can still make it meaningful and celebrate that we’re all here together!

The holiday season is actually one of the most wasteful times of the year…..

Studies show that while we enjoy family time, food and gifts, our global carbon footprint is 6% higher than during the rest of the year.  The planet has to deal with the consequences of all these celebrations, and the effects are damaging to our already fragile ecosystem. 

Celebration shouldn’t have to cost the earth (or our conscience!) and it doesn’t have to! 

With some careful planning, mindful gifting and conscious consumerism you can have yourself a gloriously green festive season – just follow our guide, and keep it simple!

Keep It Simple!

Before diving into all the green festive tips, let’s chat about YOU!  There is always a frenzy attached to Christmas.  The hustle and bustle of gift buying, card making, cooking, baking and preparing for the big family arrivals – it can actually get pretty stressful! 

So, Scale It Down!  Of course you want to make your festivities special, but special can be simple. 

Simplifying your Christmas plans will not only benefit you and your stress levels, but also the planet. 

Instead of going big with a massive dinner, extravagant decorations and fussing over table settings, why not take a family picnic in the garden or out to the beach?  Divide the food preparation and have everyone bring a little something to share. 

A Conscious Christmas

When it comes to enjoying a green festive season there are a few things to take into consideration, but each links back to our first point of “scaling down” or “simplifying”.  Basically, less is more.

This might sound minimalist and not very festive, but when you apply this principle to your celebration plans you might be surprised how much you can save on time, money, energy and waste, while still having a fun and festive Christmas!

Your Green Christmas Wonderland!

The three main components that go into planning and creating your green Christmas celebrations are:

Setting/Ambience – this includes all the decorations, lights, the tree and festive bits and bobs you need to create your Christmas dreamland.

Gifting – what you buy, the gifts you give, cards etc.

Food – preparation and planning, food choices and more!

Decorating the Christmas tree has to be one of the most therapeutic and rewarding traditions of Christmas! 

The tree is very symbolic to Christmas, with the classic evergreen pine tree symbolising eternal life.  But in our modern era, much of the symbolism and meaning behind the traditions of Christmas have been lost to commercialism. 

The massive scale of these celebrations means that millions of trees are cut down each year to be used as Christmas trees. 

These trees are grown on special farms and most of the time in places where they do not originate, meaning that extra herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers are needed to grow the trees successfully and this has several negative impacts on the environment.

Millions of these trees are grown only to be cut down, causing drastic imbalances to the soil, atmosphere and ecosystem in the surrounding area.  These trees are no different from other trees, and so animals will make their homes in these fake “forests”, only to lose them when Christmas comes around.  The mass felling of these trees also unleashes the carbon dioxide that the trees have stored, creating further imbalances to the atmosphere.

Furthermore, not all the trees are grown on farms, resulting in uncontrolled deforestation of evergreen forests, resulting in more destruction to habitats and ecosystems. 

Grow Evergreen

www.heartwoodtrees.co.za

An eco-conscious Christmas has to start with the tree and so ensuring that your tree is the right one is vital!  

While you can opt to buy an artificial tree, you may want to think about the materials used to make these artificial trees…..most often they are made from plastic – a different kind of evergreen and not one we really want! 

Decorate a LIVING tree! – if you’ve got a tree in your garden why not make it feel special and spruce it up with some pretty decor?  Remember, you don’t need to have the classic pine tree as a Christmas tree, a beautiful indigenious South African tree would be even more special, so whatever trees you’ve got growing in your backyard they sure to make exquisite Christmas trees.  Why not pop online now and order a glorious indigenous tree from Heartwood Trees!

Make Your OWN Tree! – Why not get the family involved in a creative project and make your very own Christmas tree?  Upcycle egg boxes, reinvent old wooden pallets, get fancy with driftwood, ribbon and origami Christmas trees!  If you need some inspiration check out this list of DIY Christmas trees.

Think OUTSIDE the Tree! – It doesn’t have to be a tree!  The Christmas tree is like a communal hearth, it’s where all the gifts wait to be opened, it’s where family and friends gather and it creates the centerpiece for a Christmas celebration.  So why not take this concept and think outside the box? 

Time For The Bling!

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the decorations.  Pretty baubles, shiny tinsel and blinking lights are the Christmas signature!  But what else do all these things have in common?  That’s right, most of it is made from plastic and despite the plastic lasting lifetimes, I think we can all agree that the actual decorations don’t last very long at all!  So each year we’re faced with the rows and rows of shiny decorations.  Each year we buy them and each year a majority of them break or get lost, resulting in having to buy new again the following Christmas. 

Let’s break the loop and start decorating our homes with these sustainable, eco-conscious decorations that will last a long time, are kind to the planet and will take your green Christmas game to the next level!

Growing Paper – a proudly South African company making 100% handmade, recyclable, plantable and biodegradable paper products, that will grow into beautiful vegetables, herbs and flowers when planted!  Growing Paper makes a gorgeous variety of Christmas decorations, cards, tags, and DIY Christmas crackers (see photograph)… all of which will grow into a living garden once you’re done!  Their notebooks, coasters, and calendars would also make perfect Christmas gifts. 

SUSTAINABLE.CO.ZA – South Africa’s leading online eco store, sustainable.co.za has everything for a green home.  From solar power, water heating and energy saving appliances, this shop has it all!  Best of all?  They’ve got an entire solar Christmas lighting range that is sure to get your green Christmas juices flowing!  Choose from classic fairy lights,  lanterns, solar candles, rope lights and more! 

Faithful to Nature – we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Faithful to Nature has everything you need to stay faithful to nature!  Take a look at their beautiful range of eco Christmas decor and, of course, check out their festive season specials for eco conscious gifts for your loved ones! 

DIY Decor

If you’re making your own tree (or even if you aren’t!) making your own Christmas decor is a fun way to really get into the Christmas spirit! 

Plus it’ll save you money, you probably already have many of the materials at home, and you can customise it however you like! 

Get adventurous and make popcorn “tinsel”, use your old egg and tea boxes, paint pine cones – let your imagination go wild! 

Check out these gorgeous DIY nature inspired decorations for some inspiration.

Festive Food

As South Africans we waste approximately 10 million tonnes of food each year, and these losses cost the economy about R61.5 billion

These numbers are staggering, especially when the country is faced with poverty and millions of families are unable to get food on the table.  

The festive season is a time of a huge amount of food waste with leftovers from dinner parties and Christmas celebrations ending up in bins across the country.  Food waste contributes to climate change, economic loss and hunger, so how can you make a positive difference this Christmas?

These “fast” festive food tips will help you cut down on your food waste and lighten your impact this festive season!

Stick to the Staples

Making smart food choices is vital to having a green Christmas and like before the concept of “less is more” applies here too.  A majority of the time we end up preparing way more food than we need and this is where a lot of food goes to waste.  Scaling your Christmas dinner down and only making a few dishes that you know everyone loves will help you to reduce your Christmas food waste.  

Plan & Prepare

Being sure of the number of people you’re cooking for will also help you to better estimate how much food you need to make, so you avoid ending up with too many leftovers.

Take it Home

If you do happen to have a few leftovers why not send all your guests home with a little reusable jar of yummy leftovers! 

Store it Tight

Store any leftovers properly in air tight containers in the fridge for the following day or in the freezer for a later date.

Doggie Bag

We all know that little pair of eager eyes that follow us throughout the kitchen!  Share your scraps and leftovers with your furry friends, they’ll probably be more than happy to give you a helping hand, just make sure not give your doggos chocolate or anything too rich, sweet or decadent, we don’t need upset tummies!

Compost It

All your fruit and veggie peels, pips and scraps can go to your compost bin or simply dug into a trench in your garden!  If you’ve got leftover cooked food it would be better to use a Bokashi bin to compost this as any oils, dairy, meat or fats can disrupt the balance of a regular compost heap.

Smart Shopping Checks:

  • Plastic free/minimal packaging – look out for loose fruits and veggies instead of buying those wrapped in plastic and styrofoam.  Skip on overly packaged things such sweet treats and snacks and rather make your own – they’re healthier for you and the planet!
  • Local – head to the farmer’s market or support local producers so you can get the tastiest ingredients for your festive food!
  • Seasonal – try to stick to fresh seasonal fruits and veggies.  Luckily summer in South Africa is full of an abundance of different fruits and veggies for your cooking delights!
  • Ethical – if meat, fish or animal products such as dairy and eggs are on you Christmas menu ensure that you buy these products from ethical, sustainable, organic and free range sources.

The Gift of Giving

It’s no secret that presents are one of the most exciting aspects of Christmas, especially for the young ones!  But the art of gift giving has most certainly changed shape in the years gone past, and the handmade special gifts our parents and grandparents would have given each other are no longer. 

Gifting has lost its meaning through the commercialism of Christmas and the surge of consumerism. 

Gifts should have meaning and be sincere, as well as being ethical choices for our planet.  Don’t waste money, or trees, sending Christmas cards to every person you know, rather give gifts of meaning to those that really mean something to you.

For full lowdown on meaninful, ethical gifting with a load of fabulous green gift ideas – read on!

For now, get planning, get crafting and get ready for a gloriously green Festive Season!

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