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How to Have a Greener Christmas

  • person Kevin Purchase
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We've got a guest blog from Katherine from Shop PomPom, and she's going to give you some tips on how to have a greener Christmas. Check out these 3 easy ideas that involve little effort but have HUGE impact!

Let’s start with a full disclaimer, I run a plastic-free kids shop for unusual and imaginative toys, gifts and homeware. However, I wish I could tell you that my family was 100% plastic-free but we ain’t that!

Yes, we have reusable nappies and beeswax wraps but we also use Tupperware and my children spend hours with their inherited PlayMobil. If I can’t make it to the fishmonger that week, I wont starve rather than buy supermarket wrapped food.

So now we’ve established I do my best but I am clearly in no position to preach, let’s talk!

Let’s talk easy, simple swaps that any family can make this Christmas and crucially why we should all bother.   

There is a lovely meme that muses, “But it’s just one plastic toothbrush... says 1.9 billion people.” 

And there is the truth of it. The impact is bigger if we all make small changes, rather than a handful of people going perfectly plastic-free.

Here are my easy swaps for Christmas. Not life changing, just could-do-them-with-your-eyes-shut simple modifications that have a huge impact.  

Wrap it Up

In the UK we use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, which averages out to about four rolls of wrapping per household. Over 83km2 of this will end up in our bins.

Much of this cannot be recycled as it is often dyed, laminated and/or contains non-paper additives such as glitter (plastics) which cannot be recycled.

So what to do?

Easiest: Use Newspaper. If you don’t want to use the Sunday Sports section, buy recycled wrapping paper. There are many out there but PomPom loves the recycled and biodegradable wrapping paper from artist Sophie Botsford.

Medium difficulty: Buy brown paper and decorate it yourself or ask your kids to decorate it with potato stamps, plastic-free eco glitter. Tie up your presents with a sprig of rosemary.  

Challenging: Furoshiki.  The Japanese art of wrapping. Take a scarf, watch a youtube video or our talented friend and designer, Emily Dawe. Learn a skill for life!  

Food, Glorious Food

One of my favourite bits of Christmas is the food, I love rolling from meal to meal. Turns out, I am not alone!

The UK will eat 10 million turkeys, 25 million Christmas puddings and 175 million mince pies. 

125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will be discarded over the festive period. 

However, we can’t eat it all. We will waste 54 million platefuls of food during December.  70% of us admit to buying far more food than we need.

Eldest: “But Mummmmm, we ALWAYS have Christmas pudding.”  Me: “but you hate it!”  Eldest: “But I like the money Uncle James hides in it.”

  •  Make a list. Stick to it.
  • Don’t buy food for the sake of tradition! Sprouts, I am looking at you!
  • Cross 1 thing off your list, you don’t need it all.
  • Make instead of buying - could your kids make the mince pies?
  • Don’t shop for leftovers.
  • OK fine, use up the inevitable leftovers. Get creative, there are such fab recipes out there, Boxing Day Turkey Curry, Bridget?!

Wooden and Plastic-Free Toys

£42 million unwanted Christmas presents are thrown out in landfill each year. Don’t let yours be one of them.

You are buying gifts anyway. So, take a minute, pause and question those toys and games. 

What are your options?  Are there alternatives out there? Do they need to be all flashing, all singing, all dancing? Do they need to be plastic?

The truth is, non-battery operated toys will keep your kids entertained for longer.

The secret to this, is that they are often “open-ended” so designed to spark the imagination and creative play. Usually, they don’t just do one “thing”, and so play lasts for longer.

Creative play inspires children to happily play independently.

Interestingly, it is usually only parents that ask what “open-ended” toys actually do! Kids seem to have no problem building castles, creating dens, stacking bricks, balancing games, zooming cars over and under bridges, cooking lunch and playing shop.

So if it’s anti-plastic stats you want, plastic toys and games will not usually be collected by your local council for recycling.

Plastic can only be recycled if it contains only one type of plastic and indeed, no other material is attached. This is rare in toys that are made from multiple types of plastic, screws, batteries, and fabric.

Therefore only 18% of plastic in the UK is recycled and every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans.

So think differently.  Here are our ideas for kids:

  • Give an experience: a membership to the aquarium, science museum, local music class, football club.
  • Think longevity, give toys that outlast the pram; a climbing triangle, a balance board, books, baking set, gardening tools, play kitchen (yes, Le Toy Van!)
  • “A Yes Day” – kids can choose what to do for the entire day, start to finish, meals, restaurants, activities, the works. You set the budget.  This year, it will be restricted but you get the idea.
  • Redecorate your kids’ bedroom (with them!) If you are bold enough to repaint, do it!  (Edward Bulmer have eco friendly, plastic-free natural paint, love them!) Otherwise choose from bookshelves, toy baskets, rugs, pillows, hooks, wall decorations to mix it up!

Have a fabulous Christmas one and all. Let me know if you do choose to redecorate – go bold!  Dream a little green with me.

Cecily Henderson launched PomPom in October 2019 with friend and business partner Katherine Rhodes. PomPom sells stylish and unusual designs for kids. Plastic-free from product to packaging. PomPom has been featured in Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Country Life and Country Living.