Monday, 10 December 2018

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

Hate to be a Grinch about it, but whilst Christmas is the time for love, family and giving, it's also the time for producing the most waste, using the most resources, and spending the most money. But there's SNOW need to stress your sELF, we've got some ways of saving your pennies and the planet this BLEAK MIDWINTER!

Here are a few simple tips to make this Christmas more green than red!


No, you're not being a cheapskate, you're being ethical and economical. Having worked in a Barnardos before, I can say first-hand that a lot of stock is brand new: and not just clothes, but gift-sets, mugs, games, jewellery, toys... the list goes on. This shows how often presents and purchases aren't used in the first place, so are given to charity, as well as how much you can save your money and resources by recycling products that have already been sold by the big companies. Today, we even got recyclable Christmas gift tags for 19p! 

Most wrapping paper isn't recyclable. 108,000,000 million rolls were binned last year in England alone. That's a lot of trees.

If you know Julia Roberts' song, you know where this is going. Plus, what better way to look after the planet than to make it part of your retro aesthetic? This year, I bought a 100m roll (normally, a roll of wrapping paper is 3-5m) of brown Kraft paper for £16 from Amazon. It is completely biodegradable. The 6 students in our house have used it to wrap their presents and you can hardly notice that any has gone! Such a good investment!

If brown paper packages aren't your thing, then you could try fabric wrap or reuse any gift bags/wrapping paper that you may have been given. Try to avoid glittery Christmas cards so that they can be recycled after you've sent them, and remember to recycle the cards you have received come New Year.

One of my favourite tricks is to save the Christmas cards I have been given and, after they've had their time on display over December, my Mum and I get crafty. We cut up the pretty designs on the front of the card, fold a corner and use them the next year as Christmas tags. That way, each tag has a funky different design, we save a few pennies, and they have been recycled! 

After a lot of debate, the most recent research suggests that real Christmas trees are better than plastic ones, as long as you're getting them sustainably - look for the FSC-certification Logo. Real trees oxygenate the planet as they grow. They are also replaced each year, and thus renewable. They make a bit of a mess on the carpet and they do use energy to chop down, so if you've got a plastic tree already, use it forever more and save further resource consumption! But if you need a new tree and don't know where to go - opt for au naturale.

(In America, people are 'adopting' Christmas trees to help with the wastage - potentially something viable in England's future, too!) 

This goes for presents, decorations and food. By doing this, you'll support the local community as well as reduce your carbon footprint in terms of resources and air miles. Of course, if its Christmas Eve and you're having a last minute Tesco panic, you don't have much choice, so plan ahead to keep prepared! If you are buying from online, try to get it all your Christmas purchases in one bulk to reduce packaging and fuel.

... something that I actually want! It's not rude or selfish to write a list and ask family members/friends for specific things, in fact, it's very beneficial. Not only do you avoid the anxiety associated with having to act like you love all your presents when you open them, even if perhaps -- you don't -- but you're also preventing waste. I mean, how many hand creams does one person actually need?

If you're anything like me, when people do ask what you want, you can't think of one single thing. Lists are super useful. Also, if you don't have any ideas for smaller gifts, but want something that can save your money and environment, here are a few great things we've requested either this year or in previous years. Sure, they're not glittery and covered in ribbons, but they can perfectly set you up for 2019 to be sustainable in a way that perhaps you wouldn't think to do if you were having to buy them yourself!


Simple, practical, and obvious. Personally, I love the stainless steel water bottles because I am always carrying books, notes, and my laptop in my bag so I hate leakages! Hard plastic bottles usually work for a while, however, I know at some point they will let me down. There's nothing worse than rummaging through your bag to find a soggy library book and wet chargers, it's like an inevitable bad day. Reusable coffee cups are another good idea if we are thinking about beverages!

Last year, Beeswax wrap was on my Christmas list. It is a fantastic replacement for cling film and plastic sandwich bags. I use it to wrap my lunches up, cover my leftovers, and protect my fruit for long days on campus. I was worried (because of the name) that these wraps were not vegan. But, it turns out they use plant-based Candelilla wax and non-GMO soy wax. No bees are harmed in the making of this product, making it the perfect re-usable vegan gift. 

I have not tried Thinx pants yet but they are on my Christmas list. Thinx are "period" pants; they are cute and totally eco-friendly. They look like normal knickers and come in many styles -- they even have a thong which they claim holds half a tampons worth (for those lighter days). I have read the hundreds of certified reviews on their website and am amazed by how many women have said it has changed their lives! All you have to do is wash them in the washing machine and they're ready for their next wear.

Naturally, I was anxious to switch over to a Mooncup. I watched multiple YouTube videos on how to use it, I read articles on the benefits, I looked up whether it was safe, and checked the reviews before purchasing. I was so excited to use it when that time of the month came around and, at first, I was disappointed. It leaked, I hated getting it out, and I was worried about it emptying it even when I didn't need to. Now, after a little getting used to and perseverance, I am totally converted. They are amazing if you're a busy person, an active person, or someone that just wants to use something more eco-friendly! For me, I can leave it in far longer than a tampon and have even started using it at night. They do not 'absorb' the blood, they collect, meaning they are actually more hygienic. 

Mooncups are lower maintenance, waste-free, safer, comfier and CHEAPER! Such a great investment and fully recommend ladies!!! 

It's only when I go to put my lunch in a Tupperware that I realise I need new ones! In our uni house, we put all of our Tupperware in the same cupboard. We have Chinese takeaway plastic tubs, large lids, small lids, and mismatched lids from tubs. It's my OCD worst nightmare and I try to avoid using any of it like the plague. 

Systema does the most efficient Tupperware sets; there are compartments for snacks, compartments for fruit, and some are even layered! I must admit, it's my organisational dream. Paperchase is also doing some super cute Tupperware boxes at the moment -- check out this cute set here. I'm a sucker for a pun and the bright colours mean that they will be visible amongst the clear tubs in my cupboard. No more searching for a lid that fits two minutes before I have to leave the house. And no more non-reusable plastic sandwich bags!

This year, George bought herself the Lush shampoo bar and I got her the conditioner. Let's just say, they're now on my Christmas list. Saving the environment/money aside, her hair smells and looks amazing!

I didn't want to write about solid shampoo and conditioner bars until I had tried and tested them myself. I have only just run out of the shampoo bar that I bought in July... for someone that has thick hair and goes through a bottle of shampoo every month, I think I made a fairly good investment. It does leave your hair feeling less soft than you would expect of normal shampoo, but once my hair dried, there was little difference in my normal texture. 

This year, my Mum made fabric bags for myself, George and Georgia. We love them - they are recycled fabric, completely unique and super helpful for groceries, gym kits, or even just handbags. Even if you don't have any family/friends as artsy and skilled as my Mum, fabric bags are a good idea to stock up on anyway and can be a nice gift for someone else to buy you. 

It's not only receiving environmentally-friendly gifts that help but it's giving them, too. Try to avoid buying from corporations that are not conscious of their carbon footprint - buy local where you can, or even better, MAKE your presents! Bakers, artists and creatives: we appreciate a painting or a homemade vegan brownie. Homemade gifts are always special. That way you can save your own pennies, the planet and bring a personalised Christmas touch!

Some of these tips require a little effort, admittedly, and are not appropriate for everyone. But it's a time where our dependence on the environment's resources is at its peak, so everything we do matters. Listen to Maria: write your list, shop local, wrap your parcels in brown paper packages tied up with string:

and then you won't feeeeeeeel so bad!

Love George and Haze xxx


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