4 ways to celebrate without eco-guilt
The festive party season is upon us with traditional rounds of get-togethers and gift-giving. Here, we share 4 tips on how to ease eco-guilt and make sure the season of goodwill is also good for our planet.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but awful for the environment. Christmas has been called the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster. In the US, people produce 25% more waste during the festive period than at any other time of year. As the tell-tale trash bags begin to mount, there’s no escaping the unfortunate truth that for many, the throw-away nature of the holiday season’s parties and gift-giving means “tis the season to be merry – and wasteful”.
A lot of party essentials are made with conventional plastic that lasts forever yet designed to be tossed away when the fun is over. Those products turn into microplastics in use and when disposed of. The tiny microplastic particles accumulate in the environment and end up in the food chain posing risks to our long-term health. Hence, while we may be able to shake off our own party hangovers with a painkiller, it’s time to consider what we can do to ensure our festive overindulgences don’t give our planet a longer-lasting toxic headache.
Fortunately, there are fun and simple ways to reduce the use of plastics. Below you can find out how to have a greener Christmas and celebrate without eco-guilt.
❶ Rethink your wrapping
Did you know that most shiny and glittery wrapping paper cannot be recycled? What’s more, consumers in the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, from which over 83 km2 ends up in waste bins. The addition of sellotape and sparkly gift tags can also make wrapping paper almost impossible to recycle. Instead, try wrapping your gifts in brown recyclable paper and get creative by decorating them with seasonal greenery. For all your glittery needs, biodegradable alternatives are available.
To avoid using paper altogether, reusable tins, boxes, and baskets make excellent sustainable substitutions. Instead of decorative plastic bows, cloth ribbons add the perfect final flourish to your wrapped gift.
❷ Host BYO food and drink parties for ecological entertaining
The holidays are all about family, friends, and community spirit, right? Since it’s estimated that in Britain alone around 177 million straws and 122 million plastic cups will be used this Christmas, why not use this as an opportunity to reduce the amount of single-use plastic food service and cutlery items by hosting parties where everyone shares the fun by chipping in, so you can borrow what you need. If you need to go for single-use items, like cutlery and straws, make sure to choose plastic alternatives that biodegrade without leaving permanent microplastics behind. There are eco-friendly options that don’t compromise aesthetics or functionality.
Getting guests to contribute with homemade foods can also help to eliminate the volume of plastic packaging your parties produce.
❸ Deck the halls without disposable plastics
If you’re hosting a party, don’t be tempted by cheap, disposable decorations. They are some of the most consumed single-use plastics during the holiday season. Also, they are one of the worst offenders in perpetuating the accumulation of microplastics in the environment, along with several other seemingly innocuous items you will also encounter during the festive season.
Say no to glitter, streamers and balloons, party poppers, and especially anything emblazoned with “2022” that screams “single-use.” Instead, set the festive scene by creating your own eco-friendly winter wonderland with homemade ornaments inspired by nature. If you can, try to reuse last year’s decorations instead of buying new ones.
Edible ornaments make an additional fun and creative way to decorate your Christmas tree in an eco-friendly manner.
❹ Reduce, reuse, recycle, replace
For some time, many of us have reveled in recycling to earn our ‘green-cred’ points.
We’ve even enjoyed giving ourselves a pat on the back, believing our diligent sorting and responsible disposal prove that we are doing our bit for the planet. But before we get too carried away, let’s remember that although correctly disposing of recyclable items is much better than lazily tossing them into the general waste going to landfill, recycling is not the panacea to our plastic problem.
Another essential thing to remember is that just because something is recyclable does not mean it will be recycled. To be precise, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled. This means that 8 million tonnes of plastic is still dumped into our oceans annually. In fact, of the 8,3 billion metric tons of virgin plastic ever produced, the vast majority, 79 percent has ended up in landfills or our natural environment, where it still remains.
So, if you are in two minds when choosing gifts, decorations, and all the other trimmings for your festive fun, simply ask yourself: after the party is over, will this be heading straight for the landfill? If the answer is yes, put it back on the shelf, and keep these creative alternatives in mind to reduce your pointless party plastic this year.
Still not convinced? According to reports, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. It’s up to us to ensure that report does not become reality. Remember – conventional plastic lasts forever, even if it is out of sight after Christmas.
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