People are kind to each other at Christmas BUT at Christmas you often aren’t very kind to the planet! Did you know, an extra 30% of rubbish is produced and thrown away over Christmas compared with the rest of the year? That’s about 3 million tonnes of extra waste! This article is about some ways you can be kind to the planet at Christmas.
Christmas decorations are not always environmentally friendly, so you can make some that are! We made some of our own decorations using mostly natural and recycled materials.
We made a Christmas wreath for our door using natural materials that came out of our garden.
First we wove a circle using willow that came from our willow shelter when we cut it back last winter.
Then we collected cuttings of holly, ivy and other evergreen plants from our garden. We tied them into bunches, then tied the bunches onto our willow circle, going all the way round.
Then we tied on teasels from our garden and pine cones from our pine cone collection.
We hung the wreath on our door.
We made some little mini wreaths to hang on our Christmas tree using willow, alder cones and scraps of old ribbon.
We made wooden reindeer using wood that we cut from our garden when we were pruning our elder and buddleia.
I also made robins using some old hessian material. I put a thin layer of Mod Podge around the edges to stop it fraying. Then I sewed felt on to make a tummy, beak and wings and I used old buttons for the eyes.
Some Christmas cards are made from recycled card but not all are and lots of them come wrapped in plastic packaging, and some Christmas cards have glitter on them which is made of plastic and can’t be recycled. Rubbish has to go somewhere and the glitter on the Christmas cards will stay in the environment for a very, very long time because plastic doesn’t rot away!
We made our own Christmas cards using recycled blank cards which didn’t come wrapped in plastic. First of all I drew a picture, then we used part of an old plastic tub to make an engraving of the picture. Then we put ink on the engraving and wiped most of it off so there was still some ink left on the lines. Then we put paper on the side with the ink and put cardboard on both sides, then we put it through a pasta maker to make prints to put on our Christmas cards. This Christmas I made a robin picture.
It is thought that about three and a half bin bags full of gift packaging are thrown away per household every Christmas. That’s 100 million bin bags full of packaging altogether. Making so many new things to get bought at Christmas is bad for the planet too.
We made some of our own presents out of natural and recycled materials to try and make it less bad for the planet.
We gave our family and best friends Christmas hampers with things that I had made with my brothers. There was a wooden reindeer Christmas decoration which we made with wood from our garden. There was a robin decoration which I sewed using old hessian material and old buttons for the eyes. There was a jar of plum jam which I made using plums from our plum tree in our garden. There was some homemade fudge wrapped in a beeswax wrap which we made.
For Mummy we made some wooden seed trays using old pallet wood from The Wood Shack. The good thing about wooden seed trays is they’re not made of plastic like most seed trays are so it will help Mummy to use less plastic when she is gardening. For Grandpa we made a big mallet out of an old log.
When we didn’t make our own presents we tried to buy lots of presents from charities that help wildlife too.
Did you know, about 108 million rolls of wrapping paper are thrown away every Christmas? Some wrapping paper has shiny bits and glitter on that can’t be recycled. And about 40 million rolls of sticky tape are used every year! That’s bad for the planet because most of it is made of plastic.
We wrapped all our presents in wrapping paper that we made by reusing brown paper packaging. We started collecting brown paper packaging in the summer and we carried on collecting it until it was wrapping time!
It was all screwed up to start with so we ironed it all to make it nice and smooth for wrapping presents.
To decorate it, we stamped it with a Christmas stamp. We tied all our presents up with string instead of using plastic tape. String can be reused again and again but plastic tape cannot. We made our own gift tags using cardboard from old boxes and envelopes.
Christmas crackers are often made out of shiny paper which can’t be recycled, and they often have plastic decorations on them like plastic ribbons and glitter. They usually have stupid plastic stuff inside like a plastic paperclip or a rubbish plastic yo-yo! So I decided to make my own Christmas crackers for my family!
We saved up lots of toilet rolls, brown paper packaging and tissue paper to make the crackers.
To make the crackers, first of all we got two matching toilet rolls. We cut one in half to make the ends and we left the other one whole for the middle. We put a cracker bang through the middle and one of the ends and taped it on using paper tape. Then we joined the first end to the middle by wrapping tissue paper round and sticking it down with paper tape. Then we put the filling in the middle and attached the other end by wrapping tissue paper around and sticking it down with paper tape just like the first one. Then we twisted the tissue paper round and stuck the cracker bang down to the second end using paper tape. We decorated the crackers by stamping some brown paper packaging with Christmas stamps and sticking it on.
I wanted to make sure the crackers weren’t wasteful so instead of plastic toys I put in Lego that I already had. We made lots of Christmas models using my Lego and then we took them apart a bit at a time and took photos to make instructions. We put the Lego bricks and the instructions in the Christmas crackers. We got some of the ideas for the Lego models from Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls. I also wrote some jokes to put in the crackers.
At Christmas we got the Lego in the crackers and built the Christmas models together.
I think my Christmas crackers were better than normal Christmas crackers and they were more fun. Just compare the Lego to a plastic paperclip!
How do you get rid of your Christmas waste? The best thing to do is to reduce the amount of Christmas waste. The second best thing is to reuse it. The third best thing is to recycle it. The second worst thing is to throw it in the bin and the worst thing is to fly tip it, like these dumped Christmas trees we saw on a walk in the woods!
Lots of things can be reused. You can reuse old Christmas card for crafts or to make new Christmas cards or gift tags for next year. Sometimes you can reuse wrapping paper and packaging and if you wrap presents in string you can reuse that.
You can recycle lots of wrapping paper and Christmas cards and lots of places will take old Christmas trees to turn them into woodchip and recycle them. Last year we used our old Christmas tree in our garden. We put bits of the branches under our hedge to stop our chickens getting through but make sure hedgehogs could still get through. Leftover uncooked food like vegetable peelings from Christmas dinner can go in the compost heap.
There’s a lot of stuff you can do to help the planet at Christmas!