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wreath making with natural foraged bits

8 Ways to Have a More Sustainable Christmas

The festive season is a funny one. For many of us it's filled with decorations, gifts and decadent feasts. But sometimes all the excessive buying can feel a little hollow, leaving us with depleted bank accounts, overflowing bins, and a hefty portion of post Christmas consumption guilt. But don't worry, there is another way...

At The Collective, we're always striving to be more sustainable, thinking about ways to cut back on waste and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle; from the sharing economy of our spaces to events championing sustainable brands. Read on for our top tips for a greener holiday season.

1. Buy experiences not things...

Consider taking your loved ones out to dinner, buying them tickets to a gig, an exhibition or festival. (Book a provisional date in the diary for when things get back to normal, it'll give you both something to look forward to.) Or you could give them a online course, a home crafting kit from the likes of Sculpd, a virtual wine tasting, a gallery membership, or a subscription to a publication like the New Scientist, The Guardian, or even Netflix.

2. Gift consumables that won’t go to waste...

If you want to give something tangible, try foodie hampers from a small business or a restaurant that's had to close, a box of wine, spirits or any edible treats that can be shared. You could even make big batches of pickles, preserves or even skincare products; then pop them in reusable jars to give as presents. Check out our faves Wabî for homemade skincare workshops.

3. Buy second hand...

Take a pledge with your family to only buy second hand gifts. Try second hand outlets, vintage or charity shops. Or, if you must buy new look into sustainable brands and ethical brands and consider exchanging lists with your loved ones so you don’t buy (or receive!) any unwanted extras.

4. Make your gift go to a good cause...

Give something that will really make a difference like a Christmas hamper from a social enterprise that employs the homeless; a cookery class taught by migrants; or a care package that uses profits to support young people's mental health. You could choose to give or receive nothing yourself, instead doing your Christmas shopping with Choose Love on hot meal, winter layers or tent for refugees who really need it.

Homemade jams and preserves

5. Craft your own decorations...

Try your hand at making wreaths, cards and decorations with paper, natural materials, foraged leaves and berries. Don’t forget to avoid plastic and glitter in your crafting, as these are often the least environmentally friendly materials.

6. Do you need a tree?

Huge numbers of trees end up in landfill every year, so think about what kind you’ll get if any. Try renting a tree, sourcing a sustainable one or buying one in a pot that you can plant up or donate afterwards. When you’re done with it, make sure it gets recycled by your local council.  

Brown paper & recycled Christmas wrapping

7. Cut back on wrapping paper...

Lots of wrapping paper isn't recyclable. Use brown paper, biodegradable paper, newspaper or fabric to wrap things. And tie presents up with reusable string or ribbon rather than tape and plastic bows.

8. Make your food shop more eco...

Buy foods that are light on packaging. Get as much veg as possible from the greengrocers rather than a supermarket; and try to buy local and in bulk. Could this be the time you finally get round to getting that veg box subscription?

Plan your meals so you use up all your leftovers and don't let anything go off or to waste. 

And while we're at it why not cut down on meat. Look into veggie and vegan options for some or all of the festive days. If you are eating meat, try to buy local and organic. 

Farmer's market Sustainable Christmas