Every Christmas in the UK millions of advent calendars are sold. A large majority of these come with a ridiculous amount of plastic packaging. So what can we do to buy more sustainable advent calendars?
The most sustainable option would be to get a reusable advent calendar that you can fill yourself. This way you can get joy from them year after year and it can even become part of your Christmas tradition.
The Range has a few really good options, which include a festive truck, train and a LED lit up Christmas scene.
Wayfair has an extensive range of over 150 calendars.
Next has the Melissa and Doug countdown to Christmas tree. This is not a traditional advent calendar, but a tree with magnetic baubles you add a bauble every day finally finishing the tree with the star on the top.
A lot of other retailers will also have their own offerings so it’s a good idea to have a look round. Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative you can find some ideas to make your own sustainable advent calendars here.
Now that you’ve got your sustainable advent calendar you have to fill it. Treats like chocolates are a good idea for some days perhaps, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to have other things in there as well. One day maybe a ticket to a pantomime or a voucher for a visit to Father Christmas. For adults maybe some miniature bottles of alcohol or even cheese. Or if you’re trying to get away from the materialistic side of Christmas, maybe a poem or nice saying. Keen cooks might like a recipe, you could even include specific ingredients on previous days. Or how about a photo each day and then maybe the display below, available from Amazon, as a Christmas present.
For other filling ideas here are some links to other articles that have good ideas.
With the Christmas season approaching it’s worth thinking about how we can make it a more ethical, sustainable Christmas. Whilst for some it’s a religious festival, for others, it’s a chance to spend some much needed time with families. However, for most of us, it’s also a time of excess and waste. For example in the UK we will use roughly 40 million rolls of sticky tape, we will also throw away an equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, 54 million platefuls of food and almost 100 million bin bags of packaging from toys and other presents according to research by onepoll.com. It is also estimated that there are one billion Christmas cards and between 6 and 8 million real Christmas trees sold.
Put all this together and it adds up to a huge amount of waste, a lot of it potentially unnecessary. So maybe if we can each tackle one or more of these issues individually collectively we can make it a more ethical, sustainable Christmas.
Sticky Tape is not only non-recyclable, any residue on otherwise recyclable materials is very difficult to remove and may mean those materials become unrecyclable. One option is to use paper tape instead of plastic tape it might be more visible however when combined with paper wrapping paper and possible some ribbon or twine it can look very sophisticated and stylish. You can purchase these from the likes of Eco-Craft and Eco Vibe.
A large portion of the 108 million rolls of wrapping paper used in the UK at Christmas is non-recyclable. Any paper with glitter, foil or texture is generally not able to be recycled. It is, therefore, definitely worth checking that the wrapping paper you buy can be recycled. Another option is to pair brown paper tape with plain brown wrapping paper and then add some embellishments. This can also make the wrapping more personal.
The obvious solution to the massive amount of food wasted is to buy less. However, in reality, this is not always possible. With large family gatherings, it is very difficult to work out the exact amount of food required and it seems better to err on the side of caution and buy plenty. However, if you do have leftovers then there are other ways to deal with them than throwing them in the bin. If you have random food leftover and are unsure what to do with then a website such as Lovefoodhatewaste.com can help. It provides a comprehensive list of recipes and food ideas using leftovers. After Christmas, it is also likely that you want a few less calorific days and even the thought of leftovers is too much. In that case, a lot of food is freezable and can be stored until you get your appetite back for it.
One way to reduce packaging is to buy less presents, however, that is understandably often not realistic. What you can do is try and buy products that either have less packaging or where the packaging is recyclable. Another option is to purchase ethically sourced and packaged gifts from ethical online stores such as Natural Collection or Plastics Free. Another option is to give memories or experiences like a meal out, theme park visit or spa day Red Letter Days and Virgin Experience Days are two of the most well-known companies in this space. For children, an amazing gift could be the gift of cooking. Little Cooks Co is a home delivery food box company that is aimed at children from 3-10 providing amazing recipes for them to cook at home. For a list of ethical brands, you can also check out our brands’ page here.
With regards to Christmas cards, it is worth considering if it’s really necessary to send and give Christmas cards to everyone if we all sent just a few less it would really help. Another option is to post a digital Christmas message perhaps on social media or via a digital Christmas Card. You can then let those people know that the money saved you will be donating to charity. This way they still get your Christmas wishes and there is a benefit to the environment and your chosen charity. If you really feel like you have to send physical Christmas cards then it would be great to support a charity when you buy cards for charity has a comprehensive selection of Christmas cards that benefit different charities. It is also best to avoid cards with Glitter or embellishments as this makes it difficult or impossible to recycle.
Real or Fake that is a difficult question. On the one hand, we have a real tree that is used for a few weeks then destroyed, on the other hand, we have a fake tree that can be used for years, but is made from plastic which is nigh on impossible to recycle. I guess it’s a very personal choice. If you plan on using a fake tree for years to come then it could be environmentally the best solution. However, if you’re only going to use it for a few years then real would be best. If you do buy a real tree then try and get it sourced as locally as possible to reduce the carbon footprint and where possible have it recycled by the local council. Trees that go into and fill end up releasing a huge amount of CO2 emissions as they rot slowly. The best solution, if you have space would be to buy a potted Christmas tree that can go in the garden after Christmas and can then be reused year after year.
As you can see although Christmas is usually a great time of the year for spending time with family it is also a bad time of the year for the environment. However, if we all do a little bit then together we can make it a more ethical, sustainable Christmas. I would also love your suggestion to make it a more ethical, sustainable Christmas for me.
Getting food delivered directly to your door is a growing trend. It used to be home deliveries of supermarket staples from the likes of Ocado and Tesco. However more recently there has been a growing trend for the delivery of high quality, single meal boxes from the likes of Hellofresh and Boxfresh. Now countless others have joined the throng, but how ecofriendly are these boxes? There’s a reasonably large carbon footprint to send single meals by courier and some boxes come with lots of individually plastic-wrapped ingredients. However, I believe there are some good ones out there.
Below are my top 5 most ethical recipe boxes.
Riverford provides a wide variety of meals from vegan and vegetarian to meals with ethically sourced line-caught fish. their own ethical statement is “To give a fair deal to farmers, customers, staff and the environment”. The majority of their produce is homegrown in the UK. However, as they point out it can be more environmentally friendly to use trucked in Spanish tomatoes than UK tomatoes that have to be grown under glass with heat and lamps. They are always mindful of the environmental impact. Their packaging policy is to be as environmentally friendly as well. Their main boxes are designed to be used up to 10 times and customers are asked to return it to the company with their next delivery. the rest of the packaging is designed to be as recyclable as possible.
Abel and Cole have been providing Fruit and Veg boxes for over 30 years. More recently they have branched out into recipe boxes. The good points are that 100% of ingredients used are either organic or wild. The majority of packaging is locally recyclable, however, if your local council doesn’t accept certain packaging for recycling you can return it with your next delivery and the Abel and Cole team will recycle for you. One issue that vegans might have is that they use a wool product to insulate and regulate the temperature within the boxes.
Mindful chef, established in 2015 is very similar in its ethical stance as the first two companies with regards, to organic, natural food and it’s welfare standards. Mindful Chefs packaging policy is also very similar. Where it does stand out is in it’s “One feeds two” program. With this program, they provide one free school meal to some of the poorest children in the world. So by buying a recipe box from Mindful Chef, you are also, in essence, making a charity donation.
Fish for Thought does what it says on the tin. It delivers ethically sourced fresh fish directly to your door. They are the only Online Seafood business with Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC). They also have fully recyclable packaging and support various sustainability programs.
Little Cooks Co is a recipe box company that specializes in kits to help get children cooking and eating organic, healthy, nutritional food. The kits are aimed at children from 3 to 10 years old. They don’t include refined flours or sugars in the kits and the packaging is 100% recyclable. However perhaps the most ethical part of the company is its support of magic breakfast, this charity provides breakfast to some of the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable children. For each kit sold Little Cooks will provide breakfast for one child.
As you can see amongst the plethora and evergrowing companies that supply recipe boxes and food direct to your home there are some gems that are trying to do this in an ethical way. You have seen my top 5 most ethical recipe boxes and I would appreciate any I might have missed in the comment section.
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