Written and illustrated by Deborah Anderson
Today is World Kindness Day, which is something we could all do with a bit more of right now. With the pandemic, especially in the dark winter days, we need to be kinder to each other as well as ourselves. In the last blog post, Kelly gave us all some excellent advice on how to look after our mental health as we navigate these tough times, which you can read here. My job today though, is talking you through how to be kinder to the environment as we approach the festive season!
Yes, Christmas is famously the most wonderful time of the year but when it comes to the environment, it is also very damaging. In the UK, we produce approximately 3 million tonnes of additional waste over the Christmas period which is ridiculous (as well as very depressing)! From excess food waste to plastic packaging to binned Christmas trees, it all adds up!
I’m not saying we all have to sit in a decoration-less room, with no presents while we eat cheese sandwiches for lunch – we don’t have to miss out! With a bit of discipline, forward-planning and creativity you can have an amazing AND sustainable Christmas! From reducing what we buy to properly recycling what can be recycled, here are some easy things you can do to help:
- Shop small - Buying your gifts from independent businesses is a great way to do your Christmas shopping. Not only are you supporting someone’s dream (and livelihood!) but they are more likely to be transparent about their ethics/sustainability practices than a big, corporate company. It’s also far easier to check with them because you’re dealing with an actual person – “Hey, is the packaging you use compostable?” Small businesses also tend to make custom designs, meaning there’s no waste stock and your gift will be more personal! If you’re sure not sure what your loved one would, well, love then don’t worry! Many small businesses sell vouchers so they can get whatever they want! You can buy the most gorgeous handmade and vintage gifts on platforms like Etsy and even Instagram. You can also support designers and artists by shopping on Society6 and Redbubble.
- Swap or shop second-hand - If you’re shopping on a budget but want to be more sustainable then giving pre-loved items is the solution! Whether you swap a skirt you never wear for a friend’s top that your sister would love or you want to look online, the world is your oyster! There are so many sites that sell gorgeous, nearly new, second-hand items including Etsy, eBay and depop. Charity shops are also a winner when it comes to buying gifts, even if they are just silly, stocking-fillers! Hopefully they will all be open again in England and the rest of the UK before Christmas so we can still get our last-minute, panic buys but don’t forget that many charity shops sell online, either through their own websites like Oxfam Online, or through sites like eBay. You can even filter your search on eBay to only show items where proceeds go to charity!
- DIY – If you’re looking for things to do this lockdown, making your Christmas gifts and decorations could be the perfect way to pass the time. Whether you’re a knitter, a sewer, an artist or even none of them – presents that you’ve spent time on and made with love, will be cherished infinitely more than something you bought them from Primark. Making gifts is a way of getting in touch with our creative sides, it’s fun and you’re likely to be cutting out on loads of unnecessary packaging! You could even make your own decorations – from cute felt tree ornaments to good, old-fashioned paper snowflakes, you’ll find endless inspiration on Pinterest and useful tutorials on Youtube. Happy scrolling! We, at One Wear Freedom, are planning to hold a Christmas accessories craft workshop! We’ll send everything out to you beforehand so you can make the perfect gift for friends or yourself, you deserve it! Follow us on Instagram to hear details soon!
- Let’s get non-physical – Presents don’t always have to be physical! There are so many options for non-physical or digital gits: making a donation in someone’s name, buying them a ticket to a show when it opens, an online course for something they’ve always wanted to learn or a membership to their favourite magazine. Eventually we are hoping to be able to offer a One Wear Freedom membership which would mean you could rent gorgeous garms to your heart’s content! In the meantime, why not rent your loved one a beautiful outfit from us, give them a pamper day and have your own little photoshoot? They get to spend time with you and they get loads of pictures of them looking amazing that they can treasure. We also do gift vouchers from £10 - £100 if they wanted to style themselves!
- That’s a wrap – It may not be something you think about but the wrapping paper around your gorgeous gifts may not be as eco-friendly as you thought! Just because it is called paper, doesn’t necessarily mean you can recycle it! Many wrapping papers contain a plastic film coating which means they can’t be recycled and ultimately end in landfill. To see if it can be recycled do the scrunch test – scrunch it and if it springs back then it can’t be recycled. Look for recyclable wrapping paper made from 100% paper, wrap your presents in brown paper and string or use bits of scrap fabrics or scarves to cover your gifts in. Also, get yourself some plant-based sellotape that you can use, if scarves and string ain’t your thing!
- Be mindful – Before you buy, wrap and dispose of items this Christmas, whether it’s food packaging, gift wrap or glittery cards, consider the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle. You can reduce what you buy by just buying what you need! This includes gifts as well as food – 54 million platefuls of food will be wasted over the Christmas period. Or you could try to reduce plastic packaging – could you buy your stuffing mix from a local zero plastic shop this year? Or if you are going to buy plastic decorations, can you guarantee that you will reuse them for years to come? Will your gifts get reused by your loved ones? And can the packaging of the gifts and food you want to buy be recycled? If not, are there alternatives? (By the way, avoid the glitter! As pretty as it is, it makes the card non-recyclable.)
The thought of being more sustainable can be daunting at first, especially at Christmas when we are constantly being bombarded with messages to spend, spend, spend. Our consumerist society has conditioned us all to think that material possessions guarantee happiness and spending money on people shows that we love them. If there is something good to come out of this year, it’s that our priorities have shifted and we now know that being with our loved ones is what important – not material items. Let’s remember that this Christmas! Yes, giving and receiving gifts is lovely but it should be the cherry on the cake, not the cake itself.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some ideas about how you can be more sustainably-minded this Christmas. Don’t worry about where to start, just start! We can all make a huge positive difference to the environment by just making small changes in our lives. I’ll leave you with some incredible wisdom from blogger and zero-waste chef Anne Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Check out our current collection here and look out for our winter collection dropping soon!