Christmas is all about tradition and every year we find ourselves looking forward to enjoying the comforting festive routines that have existed for as long as we can remember. The best thing about traditions, however, is making new ones. That’s why this year our Tom Raffield team have decided to shake things up and look at Christmas in a greener light - we’re ditching unsustainable habits and behaviours and thinking outside the box.
Here’s our round up of how to reap the benefits of the season without costing the planet...
A note on gift giving
Instead of panic buying last-minute presents for friends and family why not try something a little different this year?
Handmade gifts always make a great impression as people know you’ve spent time making a thoughtful, personalised present just for them. Some of our favourite ideas include an album of photographs of the year’s events, a wreath, dried flowers, tree decorations or home baked goods (homemade mince pies, jams, chutneys and Christmas cake always go down well in our experience).
If homemade isn’t your thing, our range of sustainably handcrafted gifts is a good place to start - you can read our gift guide here.
Furthermore, why not gift somebody an experience to enjoy together the following year? A day out at their favourite national trust gardens, membership to something they feel passionate about, band tickets, a charity donation…
You’ve got the gifts sorted (or you’re at least halfway there) so now’s the time to think about how to wrap them. There’s something indulgently festive about sitting down with some Christmas music or a film, perhaps a mulled wine and a mince pie and spending time making your gifts look extra special, so they’ll stand out below the tree.
Some of the statistics, though, are shocking. According to waste management consultants Enviro Waste, 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will be thrown away or burnt over Christmas – enough to gift wrap the entire island of Jersey.
Evidently, it’s time to rethink wrapping and think outside the box (no pun intended). Wrapping presents in brown paper (always check labels to ensure the paper quality is FSC rated and sustainably sourced) has a timeless look and ensures the paper can be recycled after. Opting for wrapping paper that is not holographic means its chances of being recyclable are much higher.
Reusing last year’s Christmas cards as gift tags is also an eco-friendly and creative way of recycling. Instead of just throwing them away, sit down, get artsy and have fun!
Weekends in December bring streets filled with shoppers on a mission to find the perfect gifts. Homemade gifts are a good way to cut down the stress and save a trip into town, but if you are venturing in here are a few green tips:
- Shop locally. Supporting your local Christmas craft fair or high street should be a priority in the lead up to Christmas.
- Lift share where possible. Parking can be a nightmare and the roads busy – share a car with a neighbour, friend or family member to reduce emissions.
- Take your own bags. Cotton totes are an obvious choice but equally baskets make for a good option. Taking your own bags ensures you save some money and, if you get caught in a heavy downpour, the brown paper bags most shops seem to have opted for this season won't disintegrate and leave gifts behind!
Most important of all - if you're buying gifts ensure that they will last. Investing in a really special gift that will still be around next Christmas, and the Christmas after is a much greener approach to present giving.
To tree or not to tree?
Christmas trees can be controversial – we chop down 6 million in the UK every year (enough to stretch from London to the North Pole and back). Whilst you can purchase a tree that has been sustainably grown in a reputable forestry, it's easy to understand why the decision to chop down a tree just to decorate for a few weeks of the year doesn't sit happily with some people.
In this year’s annual Tom Raffield photo shoot we opted for a paired-back minimal and alternative Christmas tree – green foliage and a big felled branch. The effect was equally striking and if anything, even more eye catching. A guilt free way to decorate and one that invited a personal touch.