Let's be honest, Christmas shopping is overwhelming. All the gifts I need to get, the party’s I need to cook for and the house I need to decorate. I often miss the simple days of childhood where Christmas was about waking up in the morning to open presents. However with all there is to do, I still find myself in awe of the pretty colors and flashing lights of the latest trends. Only to come to my senses that this article of clothing or shiny toy has come at a cost, way beyond the $5.00 price tag.
While this time can be hard for many with all the rush and family expectations, I have come to learn the value of our time and money during this season. Meaning having a sustainable and ethical Christmas may not be as impossible as we think. If you want to know more about what sustainable and ethical mean, go ahead and check out this article here before reading on. With this in mind, we can approach the holidays with a new perspective. It is as simple as taking the proper time and care to choose gifts with low impact on the environment and a meaningful purpose. If you aren’t convinced yet, let us consider the alternative.
Why should a sustainable and ethical Christmas matter to you?
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the average American household increases their waste by at least 25 percent. With 125,000 tons of plastic packaging and an average of 228,000 miles of wrapping paper, enough to paper our way to the moon. No one can deny this is an issue. This year try to get gifts with little to no plastic waste. You could also find cards and wrapping paper made from recycled or FSC-certified paper. For gifts you receive, you can even save the paper for next year.
More than wrapping waste, many gifts end up in landfills not months after being received. Please do not take this personally, as much of the gifts bought in stores today are not made to last. Unlike small sustainable businesses, who charge for better materials for a product that can be cherished for a lifetime. Most large corporations have no value in their product, so much so that even when gifts are returned they end up in landfills. It is estimated that 5 billion pounds of returned goods are produced from Christmas time. If that is impossible to imagine, just think that this is more than the weight of 16,000 blue whales!
From the gift to the wrapping, it is important to understand what each choice means for this season. Make intentional decisions, knowing that the little steps make the greatest difference. Choose to support a small family business who depends on their customers to provide their next meal. Choose to support products that will lead to a better and greener future. Choose to support a sustainable and ethical Christmas.
What may these choices look like for you today?
Having a possibly challenging but rewarding discussion with your loved ones may be the first step. Explain your reasons for wanting to be mindful this year. With love, educate your friends and family about the importance of our choices this holiday season. Wether this is not having the expectations of gifts in order to focus on creating memories, or that gifts will be done with intentions. The most impactful way to approach this season is changing your mindset, and it helps when those around you support it.
Buy less. Budget. Be intentional.
So if you need to buy, try your best to buy less. Create a Christmas list, only gifting to those who you feel comfortable with and have has a clear discussion about expectations. Set a clear budget, buying pre-loved vintage pieces to help them from ending up in landfills. You may also consider getting everyone involved in a Secret Santa party, that way intentions and wishlists are made clear.
Quality over quantity.
Coming to realize that quality is more important than quantity is essential. There are so many brands that believe in this, who care so much more about what your dollar means for their families. Thankfully, searching for these brands doesn’t have to be difficult. You can find so many great gifts right here, on our Christmas Gift Guide! Or browse the rest of the sustainable and ethical brands directories here at the full list of categories. All of these brands are trusted sources for well quality products. From your grandpa to your best friend, there is something for everyone on this list.
Make a lasting change.
The holidays can be so beautiful with all the joyful giving that comes with it. Gifts is a love language of many, including myself. Unfortunately the mass production companies take advantage of this, getting rich off of exploiting workers and abusing the earth. Behind the nice flashy packaging is often the workers being paid below minimum wage or forest devastation around the world. We as consumers are essential to making a lasting change, not just for Christmas but all year round.
Memories over material.
In the end, the ultimate way to have a sustainable and ethical Christmas is valuing the memories made over the material. Instead of buying all the new and hip Christmas decorations this year, my husband and I opted to make our own orange garland from our homegrown trees. My family is expecting many handmade gifts, as well as gifts made with love for the earth and people. My friends and I agreed to cherish our time together with a movie night rather than giving gifts. If you want to find out how to host a sustainable Christmas party, you can check that out here. While this holiday may not be as simple as it was all those years ago, I am thankful that I am now able to make a positive impact.
As easy as it can be to get overwhelmed during this busy season, remember to take the time to cherish moments over material things. We are only responsible for our own footprint in this world, but that is more than enough to make a difference. I wish you all the best as you seek how you and your family will enjoy a very Merry sustainable and ethical Christmas!