Are you a lover of vintage? Do you want to ensure that your Christmas isn’t going to increase your carbon footprint?
If you’ve been following the news and watched the many documentaries this year regarding plastic waste, then you will know we are beginning suffer for the disposable society that we have become. Whilst there is much inspirational positive action from consumers and some businesses, Christmas will nonetheless be a challenge. It may be the most wonderful time of the year but it is also a time when our waste increases drastically and we are at our most over indulgent.
The good news is that if you’re a lover of vintage then you’re probably already well practised in the art of recycling and upcycling. So here we have a few ideas of how to marry your vintage tastes with your eco efforts and still have yourself a merry little Christmas:
Brown Paper Gift Wrap
Wrapping paper, it’s just paper right? So it can be recycled right? Wrong. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but our lovely patterned sparkly gift wrap has been dyed, laminated and many rolls have even had glitter added. It us not fit for recycling and can you imagine how much is used and thrown away every Christmas? It is enough to wrap around the equator 9 times – and that’s just the UK’s contribution.
So let’s go back to simpler times and plain old brown wrapping paper this year. Firstly this can usually be recycled but it can also be reused as it is often easier to unwrap brown paper covered gifts and keep the paper in tact. Plus it doesn’t have to be dull! There are so many ideas out there for making your parcel paper more attractive that are quick and easy even for those of us who don’t consider themselves creative.
Personally I like to tie up my brown paper wrapped gifts with scraps of lace and ribbon, which I keep and reuse every year. Others are using stamps, stickers or even dried leaves and flowers to embellish theirs. Find even more ideas at: https://fatmumslim.com.au/20-beautiful-ways-to-wrap-with-brown-paper/
Christmas is mostly about the children, especially when it comes to gifts. As a child I remember the jokes and sarcastic remarks that the adults would make as we unwrapped our presents; ‘I give that five minutes before that’s broken’, ‘that should entertain them for about 30 seconds’, ‘who wants to bet they’ll be lost parts by this time next week’ and such like, and they’d all laugh. Now I’m one of the parents watching their child receive presents and calculating the product’s lifespan, only it doesn’t seem so funny anymore. It is estimated that a shocking 90% of children’s toys on the market today are made from plastic. Not only is plastic potentially the biggest threat to the future of the environment, but we are also becoming increasingly aware that the chemicals in the material may well be threatening our health. I ask; whatever was wrong with wooden toys? They were hardy, beautiful and stayed in such good condition that it was possible to pass them along to the next generation. Well, they are making a great comeback! It seems this generation of parents, who are far more keen on vintage, are keen on the more enduring less controversial wooden toy alternative. Obviously the more economical way to do it would be to buy second hand wooden toys. However, if you want to buy new it doesn’t have to cost the earth. ‘Flying Tiger’ do some classic vintage games such as Bird Race and Pick-up Sticks, which is a game my family will play for hours, with all parts and packaging wooden or cardboard. They also have a good selection of doll and farm houses with all wooden furnishings and people (great stocking fillers). Many of their wooden toys and games come in at under £8 as well so who says that quality costs more?
Amazon supply pretty much everything so they too have a good range of wooden toys, and particularly wooden instruments, for babies and children. Although, if you are going to order from Amazon, we urge you to order all your gifts at once and request that they are packaged together if possible. They may take a little longer to arrive so best to get in early, but it will help reduce the carbon footprint and cut down on packaging.
Save yourself some money and give a little of your time to make something special for your family and friends. We live in a consumer world and nobody, with the exception of children, seems to be able to come up with much of a Christmas list anymore because we live in a culture where we refuse to wait for things we need or want. I can feel you shrinking back from the screen as I write this, I can see your noses crinkle and hear you tell me that you aren’t creative enough to make something, but not all homemade gifts are complex. Ok, so if you have the ability to use old clothes to make a patchwork quilt then fantastic – that’s a great present and very eco friendly. However, if your knitted scarves resemble something that has barely survived a house fire and your glue gun has been used only to reattach shoe soles, then here are two very simple ideas that your friends and family will love, using just old glass coffee jars:
Refillable Hair Shampoo Jars – There are literally hundreds of things you can do with an old coffee jar (ones with glass tops instead of plastic preferred), but one of our favourites could make a real lasting reduction to waste. Simply clean out two empty coffee jars and take them to your local refill shop to fill with shampoo and conditioner. You may not yet have heard of this but many smaller heath and ethical shops provide refill products. First to come was household products but we agree – it’s not the more exciting gift, so try out natural hair shampoos by brands such as ‘Faith in Nature’ who have no waste refill options. There are probably more of these services around you than you think. Check https://thezerowaster.com/zero-waste-near-you/ to locate one near you.The products smell fantastic and are chemical free and will look luxurious in the jars, especially once you’ve tied some vintage style lace or ribbon around the top. We suggest you add a brown paper tag informing the recipient about the shampoo/conditioner and letting them know where they can get refills once they have all been used up! This means your gift isn’t only eco-friendly, but it may prevent further plastic bottles being purchased. An Activity Jar – This could be created for your own children or for someone else’s family (one present for all is always a bonus). One of the most thoughtful and inspiring gifts possible, encouraging time better spent! Simply use small pieces of recycled paper or lollipop sticks and write down an idea on each one for an activity. Some jars are filled with solo activities for when a child claims to be bored, which would be a great gift for your own child (and probably for you too!). However, as a present for another family we like the ones that bring them all together such as ‘play a board game’ or ‘go for a walk in the woods’.All you need is ideas and there are lots to be found on the internet. https://theimaginationtree.com/activity-jars-for-busy-kids/ Perfect for families over the Christmas holidays, rainy days, long winter evenings and all those ‘bored’ moments!
Eco Vintage Decorations
Trade tinsel for paper chains – Use recycled paper to make paper chains. They can be as easy or as complex as you wish and can be made in front of the fire watching a classic Christmas film. They go anywhere too – around the tree, hung from picture frames or beams and they even work as table decorations. Be delicate with them and they can be reused next year.
Forage For Christmas Decorations – A day out in the wintery woods and natural, scented, seasonal decorations to bring into the home; who could ask for more? After all, the idea of Yule celebrations was to bring the outdoors in, as we did with the Christmas tree. Again, you can be as creative as you wish. Simply fill a bowl with cinnamon sticks, dried oranges and pine cones for homemade popery or fashion intricate wreaths. You could even spray paint some sticks and such with white to give a snow effect, nestle tea lights around them and hey presto – you have a centrepiece!Just a few adjustments, a little vintage flair, and we can go back to the Christmas’ of old where time spent together was at the heart, we gave gifts that would stand the test of time and we didn’t damage our planet for one day of celebratory indulgence.
Disclosure – although this article mentions some specific products and suppliers, these are in no way associated with or endorsed by Betty Lou but merely given as examples.