Getting ready for a sustainable Christmas
Follow my 5 steps plan to lighten up your Christmases, spend more time enjoying the Holidays and less time cleaning and sorting. Because I DO LOVE CHRISTMAS but we produce and throw during Christmas time approximately 30% more rubbish compared with the rest of the year, including unwanted presents, packaging from food and objects, Christmas trees, decorations, cards and wrapping paper.
I feel like this year is the perfect year to redefine our priorities and set a new kind of celebration. After all 2020 was very special and we realised that we cared more about being able to go on adventures, to meet with our friends and enjoy life than we do about possessions.
1st step, the reverse advent calendar.
To declutter your home to make space for Holliday cheer and gifts!
Everyone knows the concept of an advent calendar: 25 chocolates to patiently wait for Christmas. Well this year, to deserve them, lets star by doing a reversed concept in November. By December 1st clear your home of 25 objects. You can do it with your kids too. Go in every room and look for things kids have outgrown or that you haven’t used in a year.
Go the extra mile
Donate, regift or recycle what you are getting rid of.
You can donate toys to www.pekesbags.com to give them a new life at Hong Kong's second hand toys repair and rental service.
Gift some for Christmas: second hand objects need zero raw material to produce, they pollute less and they have a story!
Give for free anything and everything on the Facebook Group: Rehoming & Donating Goods to Reduce Waste in Hong Kong.
Donate your books to the online platform Rebooked, a Hong Kong based, non-profit social entreprise promoting a circular economy.
Ask your friends, your kid's nanny or their school, you neighbours, local charities if they need anything you don't anymore.
2nd step, make your own advent calendar.
To avoid unrecyclable, overpackaged ones!
After all that cleaning up, this one is well deserved and you don’t have to be a DIY King or Queen to get it right. Just chose 25 small gifts (like chocolate, animal figurines, origamis, jokes) and write the numbers from 1 to 25 on 25 pieces of paper. Find 25 containers (could be baby socks, jars, paper envelopes or jewellery pouches) and chose where to display them in a creative way.
3rd step, make your letter to Santa!
To get things you or your kids with actually use and cut down on waste.
It’s pretty common in every family to ask each other ideas for another member. My husband and I will ask for experiences (tickets to a show, a baby sitting, a fun moment with the gifter). For the kids, I prepare an email to Santa AKA grandparents, aunts and uncles because they don’t want to give the kids something we already have or a paw patrol cap when it’s clearly a batman phase.
My low waste tip
last year I specified that we’d be thrilled to receive second hand gifts when possible and that we’d love them to be gift wrapped creatively, using anything except first hand wrapping paper. It was a big hit and everyone loved it.
This year, join my Gift Wrapping Challenge on Instagram! #RespectfulChristmas
4th step: revisit gift wrapping.
Wrapping paper is not recyclable and it’s a common mistake to throw it in the recycling bin, contributing to recycling contamination.
You can use anything to wrap your gifts: newspapers, scarves, clothes, reused and decorated kraft bags, fabric bags, fabric scraps, towels, tote bags, produce bags, drawings.
Replace plastic tape with paper tape and plastic ribbons with reused fabric ribbons or raffia.
My 2020 trick
I bought a dinosaur colouring paper roll for my kids and I find it’s a good alternative to use as a wrapping paper in its first life and colouring paper in its second life.
Use as little paper tape as possible
Adorn the package with raffia or a fabric ribbon
Add a crayon in the packet so it can be used immediately
5th step: make your own decorations.
To avoid single use decorations, personalise your home and make meaningful decor.
My go to natural decorations are oranges, star anises and cinnamon sticks, pine cones, leaves and branches. White Gypsophila flowers make a beautiful snowy, airy decoration and stay beautiful even without water. You can also make Origami tree decorations. My kids enjoy hanging their decorated photos, home-made biscuits or dried and painted salt dough ornaments.
My favorite decorations
Dried orange circles, which I hang or use in a potpourri arrangement with star anises and cinnamon sticks. They smell and look so Christmassy!
Cut your oranges in slices of minimum 0.5 cm thick so they don’t curl in the oven
Place them on a backing tray and let them dry at 180C until they have your preferred colour
They will continue drying on your tree but will not rot
Compost them after Christmas
Be the change this Christmas, show your family that things can be done differently while keeping the spirit of Christmas. Every year I am impressed by a family member who changed a habit or agrees to stick to the list! As a parent, I am so proud to be redefining this special time of the year for my little ones, to make it more about the moment and the memories.
I originally wrote this article in French for the podcast Nos Petits Pas and in English for Playtimes Magazine/Webzine Hong Kong.