This is Christmas week and in a year darkened by the Covid-19 pandemic, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is sure to bring some cheer. This is a good time as any to reinvent the way we commemorate the Festival, making Sustainable choices that are good for our Planet.
Here are a few ways you can make your Christmas Sustainable:
1. Use a living Christmas tree
According to a report in the Guardian (2018), a 6.5 ft tall artificial Christmas tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to about 40 kg of greenhouse gas emissions! What’s more, every plastic Christmas tree will eventually end up in landfill.
But living Christmas trees are 100% biodegradable and easily recycled. In India, the commonly found Thuja, along with varieties of cypress and pine (especially cook-pine) are considered living Christmas trees. Or you can make your own upcycled Christmas Tree from old Sprite bottles. Just stack them up in a form of a Christmas tree using a bamboo or wooden frame for support.
Use holly wreaths and wreaths made of pine cones, pine leaves, floral wires on doors and entrances. Natural pine cones can be painted in white, green and red to use as tree ornaments.
2. Light up with LED
LED lights on your Christmas tree use less energy and look equally good. According to the US Department of Energy, residential LED technology uses at least 75% less energy and is usable up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. It also helps to switch off your lights at night.
You can also use non-paraffin candles made of beeswax and soy-wax; When beeswax candles like Pratha Beeswax Candles burn, they clean the air like a great, natural, air purifier. Beeswax candles emit negative ions, which help reduce positively charged ions in the air.
3. Shop to build a better world
Unicef Market's Indian Christmas Decoration Collection https://market.unicef.org.uk/christmas-decorations/india/ (like Indian embroidered beaded gold star ornaments 'zardozi stars') helps Unicef save and protect the world's most vulnerable children. Every gift you purchase helps save children's lives.
4. Buy Tree ornaments made by local artisans
Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) set up Okhai which offers handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products created by rural artisans from across India.
With the support of TCSRD, self-help groups (SHGs) have been formed in the villages of Okhamandal and members of these groups are trained in the processes of modern handicraft production. At present, over 2300 rural artisans are benefiting from this programme, with a goal to reach 5,000 over the next five years. https://okhai.org/collections/christmas-decoration-items-online
Look for decorations made from recycled materials. Or get creative and make your own decorations, from wood, fabric and glass, including your own Christmas wreath. Remember that tinsel and glitter can’t be recycled.
5. Consider Sustainable gifting
Gifting is an important part of Christmas but often we end up getting gifts we don’t really need. Instead try buying sustainable gifts such as donations and experiences, or gifts made from recycled materials. Whether it’s a visit to the spa, watching a football match or a skydiving adventure, experiences tend to be more memorable whilst producing less waste.
How about gifting Immunity boosting Teas for Christmas? Gone are the days of eggnogs on Christmas, the current times call for enjoying a hot cup of good health & taste.Vahdam India has introduced a range of exquisite Christmas Gift Tea Hampers in premium fresh flavours especially its Turmeric Tea Tales. Featured in Oprah Winfrey’s Favourite Things of 2019, a luxurious collection of 6 aromatic Turmeric teas, infused with a medley of fruits, herbs, spices & powerful superfoods, packaged in a beautiful gift box.
Zero waste chocolates are another thoughtful gift. Kocoatrait is the world's first sustainable Zero Waste and Planet friendly Bean to Bar chocolate, and it is Made in India! Even the wrappers are made from reclaimed cotton and Cacao shells that are left behind during the roasting of the beans. After you have made use of the wrapper, simply place it in moist soil in your garden and in a few months, it biodegrades.
While wrapping gifts. remember that you can’t recycle ribbon or tape. Wrap presents in an inventive way to reduce the need for any tape. Check if your wrapping paper is recyclable by taking the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper into a ball and let go - if the paper stays scrunched then it can be recycled.
Old newspapers make excellent gift wraps. You can also use bags made of waste paper, woollens, scraps and cloth for gifting.
6. At the table
Avoid straws, skip bottled water and recycle what you can afterwards. Plastic plates, cups, cutlery and drink stirrers can't be recycled easily. There are many alternatives like edible rice straws from Smaart Eats, bamboo cutlery, etc.
What is Christmas without Cakes? But this year go for healthy Organic cakes. Bengaluru’s Soul Treat offers multigrain cakes as well as cakes made with 100% whole wheat flour instead of maida (refined white flour).The bakery uses healthy oils (olive oil and rice bran oil) instead of butter. The cakes are decorated with chocolate icing instead of the heavy cream icing. And if you want to avoid sugar, they can also give you sugar-free cakes made with natural sugar substitutes such as stevia or jaggery. You can also try their gluten free Blueberry Cake made with Buckwheat Flour.
7. Shop Local
Last but not least, shop locally. This will not only support the local economy and employment, but will reduce emissions associated with driving to the mall or city shops.