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3 weeks to Christmas – ZERO plastics Christmas

Susana Fonseca, ZERO, Portugal

The long-awaited moment has come! The lights, the decorations, the positive energy, the family and friends gatherings, the Christmas carols and also, the gifts.

 

But to all of those who long for a non-materialistic Christmas, and are determined to avoid plastics at all cost, it is not an easy task! Even for an expert of plastics, it is not easy to avoid it in every item and every situation. Even food, water, table salt have been found contaminated with microplastics.

 

Whether plastic comes as an intended or unintended addition, it is worth trying to reduce its presence in our lives, for our health but also for the planet, since less plastic will mean less fossil fuels being extracted and less CO2 emissions being released. And this also means avoiding bioplastics, as simply replacing one wasteful material with another is not a credible solution to plastic pollution.

 

But let’s go into the big and small details of our lives and of our Christmas preparations that can really make a difference.

 

Before we start going into the details, there is a dilemma we should speak about: as we try and break free from plastic this Christmas, what to do with those legacy plastics we already have in our lives? Christmas decorations are good example of it. Considering that in many cases we are in the presence of durable products – even if they are mainly made out of plastic – the best option for the environment will be to reuse them as much and for as long as possible. Repair them if possible, and try to extend their life. This can be easily applicable to Christmas trees and their ornaments, lighting elements and other type of decorations that are used at Christmas.

 

For those who happen to be at the beginning of writing their own story on Christmas, then definitely the best option will be to reuse stuff to create an innovative and unique Christmas tree and decorations to go with it. For those who feel they are lacking the inspiration, a simple online search will do the trick.

 

Prepare it with children, family or friends for a do it yourself moment that will surely be remembered for a long time (and with a strong possibility that you will be “spreading the word” on the no plastic approach to an enlarged audience). Proposing this at the office can also be a very good idea and a team building moment. Each one can bring some natural elements – wood, leaves, branches, fruits, etc. – and create their own decoration elements for the “company” tree.

 

Avoid using the traditional “Christmas snow”, it is basically plastic and not a welcomed visit to your house. Use cotton instead (preferably organically produced), and don’t forget to save it for Christmases to come.

 

Gifts can be a bigger problem… or not. If there are children involved, looking for presents that are made of natural fibers – wood, paper, textiles – can be a good starting point. Better yet will be to start offering experiences rather than stuff, or reduce the amount of presents by having everyone contributing to a more meaningful present. It can be a challenge, but one worth the extra effort!

 

For adults you can always bake some cookies or candies and put them in reused glass jars, or offer a picture of the children in a homemade frame or postcard. It is a guaranteed fun time for the children preparing it, and grandparents, uncles and aunts will be delighted.

 

Regarding food, try to buy it locally produced and seasonal, from stores or markets where you can use your own bags or recipients and buy in bulk, and be mindful of the quantity to avoid food waste and minimise all the upstream impacts of food production (some with implications on plastic use). For a more sustainable holistic approach to Christmas, try to reduce the amount of meat, particularly beef – and if you buy it, get it packaging-free.

 

And no Christmas post is complete without mentioning the New Year. May 2019 be a changing year for wasteful practices and may you kick it off with a new, zero waste resolution. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. As soon as you will feel the taste of a ZERO waste lifestyle…you will want nothing else.

 

Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2019!

Hungry for more Zero Waste Christmas tips? Check out Zero Waste Austria’s ideas for zero waste presents!

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