I would like to apologise for being somewhat quite lately, between being ill work and the festive period I’ve barely had the time or the energy to even think about this blog. That’s not to say I’ve stopped trying to be as eco conscious as possible though.
That being said I found that being the eco girl was particularly hard over the festive period. First of all, why do we need so many silly bows and ribbons to wrap a gift? It’s really unbelievable, in our house alone (and we are a household of four) we filled an entire bin with wrapping paper alone! I’ll admit I did pull it all back out the bin (Much to my mother’s disgust) and sort through that which I knew could be recycled and that which could not, which made me feel slightly better about it all but really is it necessary? The answer no.
My family however were appalled and I mean really appalled at the fact I had chosen to wrap my Christmas gifts in compostable or recyclable brown paper and compostable or recyclable string. They actually asked me where my Christmas spirit was, as if somehow fancy wrapping paper alone embodied the festive spirit. The only person who liked the idea was my aunt’s mother who said that the modestly wrapped gift I handed her reminded her of her childhood Christmases where her parents who couldn’t afford wrapping paper, simply used newspaper sheets and string. I quietly informed her that if I’d thought I could have gotten away with it I would have used that instead of the brown paper. which came rolled in shrink wrap.
But really I got pretty annoyed at being shouted at for my lack of Christmas paper. It started a really heated debate at the Christmas dinner table about the proper way of doing things with my mum and her generation (June excluded) being for fancy paper and plastic bows, and mine being for my way of doing things, in fact most of my cousins were even asking why we needed to wrap things in the first place. Great I say even less waste! (Though honestly that may be more laziness than any ethical morality, but I’ll take a win anyway I can.)
I had tried this year to wrap my gifts without using tape, as away to further reduce my waste. I found a tutorial for this on YouTube, and honestly it took a bit of practise and a fair bit of cursing but I got there in the end, and even became quite adept at it. I also noted it worked well for the items that were boxed (or that I could put into recycled boxes), I didn’t even need to use string to hold it. The issue was using it to wrap the awkward shaped things like clothing, that’s where my string came in really handy and allowed me to tie my gifts together rather than tape them. I personally felt that my wrapped gifts were rustically festive in their own little way.
The string I got from a stall at my local craft fair and despite it’s festive colours it’s compostable and the wooden decoration, I got for pennies at my local works because someone had taken the shrink wrap off the little wooden box and taken on out of them. I was of course happy to take the remaining 11 in the set with the wooden tray sans plastic yey me!
When I handed my best friend her gift a few days before Christmas she informed me that she’d tried her best to keep it as ethical as possible, buy buying getting me a voucher for a meal and show tickets for my favourite comedy club. She apologised that she couldn’t get unpackaged Maltessers. (I laughed at that one.) But after we’d exchanged gifts, she asked me how I was planning on dealing with my Christmas gifts that weren’t going to fit in with my new lifestyle. As this time last year I was only just beginning to think about being ethical and at hadn’t quite gotten as far as I have this year.
So I thought I’d share with you all what I got, what I liked and disliked, what I will use and how and what I will do with the stuff that I won’t use, and at the end I’ll show you how much waste I actually created. So Hear we go.
My main gifts from my parents, were a Mala leather purse that I had been admiring in a shop in Anstuther when we’d went their on holiday earlier in the year. I longed for this purse but at the time couldn’t justify spending the £30 odd on it. Unbeknownst to me my parents sneakily went back and bought it. I was rather humbled to say the least, I like that though I am unsure of the company’s ethics, I do know that they are hand made in England. The other things my parents bought me was a Nomination charm with a little handbag on it, which I liked, and a hand made ring from a jeweller in Pittenweem that I adore.
I was impressed that my parents had tried to keep the packaging as ethical as possible (wrapping paper aside). The ring came in a little velvet pouch, and they merely wrapped the pouch. The nomination charms come with a compstable box and a small bit of tissue paper that I know can be recycled if not composted (I’m not sure on that count). The purse came in it own box, which I plan to keep and use as a drawer storage, and wrapped in a small bit of tissue paper which again can at least be recycled.
Next came the clothing that my parents got me. Most of it was bought from fast fashion shops. nothing I can do about that since I didn’t buy the stuff, but since, I was I need of a new pair of PJ’s (and their harry potter) I decided I would keep them, as well as the grey cardigan since I have been on the hunt for one of them for a while. (Most likely why they bought me them in the first place). What did surprise me was the second hand grey blazer that I received. My mum mentioned that she’d seen it in a charity shop window and could just see me wearing it, so she bought it. She was worried that I’d be upset at getting something second hand for Christmas but it was one of my favourite gifts because without meaning to my mum had embodied my entire ethos for just a second and it pleased me! The jumper dress and tights were from a family friend and whilst they weren’t ethically sourced they are classic items that will make a good edition to my wardrobe, so I shall keep them and put them to good use.
My little sister got my a lovely watch, that I liked a lot, My mum (Who helped her pick my gift, due to learning difficulties) explained that she thought the more rectangular style would suit my slim wrist and she was right. I rather like it. I was also given a hair dryer, which whilst unexpected and (I thought) unnecessary, did actually end up being much needed. As when I went to dry my hair later that day, my pervious hair dryer (Which I’d had for 7 odd years) decided to start smoking. Either my sister is Physic or she sabotaged my hair dryer. I haven’t decided which yet.
Two of my cousins, bought me perfume for Christmas. Now I have yet to switch to an eco friendly perfume since I want to use up what I have before I do, and I really swithered over giving these away since Vie Est La Belle is one of my favourite scents. So I decided that yes I would keep that one but the other I would re-gift to someone else at a later date since I have never heard of the brand and had no interest in it really.
Several People bought me, gifts that I will use such as Candles two of which are Yankee, and whilst I wouldn’t in a month of Sunday’s buy them myself, I do like the smell of these two so I will use them (and I can reuse the jars to pour my own when I’ve burned the original wax). The third is a small soy wax candle my senior in work gave me, which has a cute little engraving on the jar.(I was apparently the only person to get a soy wax candle, since and I quote she ‘didn’t want to offend the eco girl’. I laughed at that and thanked her for being so considerate of my beliefs, which was nice if you think about it)
Chocolate, everyone gets chocolate at Christmas. No none of it is organic and no the packaging is not in any way shape or form eco friendly but it is the only time of the year I get chocolate and the small bundle will most likely keep me in chocolate for the entire year. I am not a chocolate lover and would much rather have a large bowl or cinnamon flavoured popcorn or some nuts!
speaking of my dad, got me a jar (he stole the jar from my cupboard without me noticing) and filled it with honey and cinnamon roasted cashews and almonds from the Glasgow Christmas market. How sweet right? One of my aunts got me a lovely mug which, came in a lovely little box, which I plan to reuse in some way since it’s too pretty to throw away even though it does state on it’s base it’s compostable, (which made me wonder where she bought the mug, since I don’t see a branding anywhere on it. make me think it may have been somewhat ethically produced)
The next lot of gifts are mostly my ‘reject’ pile. The things people got me that I just won’t use or wear. These things I’ll either donate, sell or re-gift as I see fit And whilst I am calling this my reject pile that does not mean that I don’t appreciate the gifts – far from it I was stunned when a work friend who I give lifts to regularly gave me a rather large soap and glory gift set. Now I don’t like the brand and would never use it. I do know how much it costs and actually had tears in my eyes looking at it on Christmas day I was so stunned shed appreciated a simple lift home enough to spend that much money. Just because I know I won’t use something doesn’t mean, that I don’t appreciate the sentiment behind the gift. I would just rather that the items be put to good use that sitting in my cupboards gathering dust for months. (Though the portable charger is pictured in this group I will actually be using that since I don’t currently have one and it’s a handy thing to have)
So there you have it, my Christmas haul, what I plan to use and what I don’t. To end this post I wanted to show you the rubbish pile that was created when I unpackaged the items I was keeping.
This pile is the pile of things I can reuse, recycle and compost (If I had a compost heap which I don’t)
This pile is the pile that I can’t do anything else but put it in the bin. I’ll be honest it’s not as small as I would have liked, but it is significantly smaller that it has been in previous years. And that alone really surprised me in how much I’d come in the near year of trying to really reduce my waste. I looked at a lot of the things in my recycle pile and realised that in previous years, I’d never have considered could be composted or recycled, I now know are.
So yes Christmas has created a little bit of waste for me, but I’m not really that upset about it, because I know that personally for me I have made a difference to my habit and I have done what I can to reduce it, so really I see it as a stepping stone. Yes I would have liked people to buy me gifts that fit with my ethos but you can’t really dictate to others what they buy for you. That’s not how gift giving works is it? You just accept what you been given, be grateful that person care enough of you to sped money or time on you and then discreetly, re purpose the unwanted gift without causing hurt or offence. It’s how I try to be eco friendly as I can when it come to Christmas.
So What do you Lot do with unwanted gifts? and how have you made you festive period more eco friendly? I’d love to hear from you all. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a great new year!