I’m dreaming of a waste-free Christmas (Crafts Magazine)
All copy as provided to publication.
Some 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away and not recycled this Christmas, along with four million portions of turkey dinner, eight million Christmas trees and, according to Defra, enough paper to gift-wrap the entire island of Guernsey. If all those stats have got your tinsel in a twist, fear not – there are plenty of ways to embrace the festive season without compromising your eco-ethics.
Christmas trees are traditionally cut down, used for just a few weeks and then dumped, emitting harmful greenhouse gases as they decompose. Some local garden centres offer replanting services for rooted trees and Giles Miller Studio is launching the Goodness Tree on Kickstarter (kickstarter.com, £65). Made from corrugated cardboard, it is expected to last at least five years and can be fully recycled. For added feel-good factor, the trees are assembled by those without work, providing vital income when it is needed most. Any profits will be donated to homelessness charity Shelter.
When it comes to wrapping, take a tip from the Japanese and embrace the art of furoshiki – or cloth wrapping. The practice dates back thousands of years in Japan and is now gaining worldwide popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to wrapping papers, with shiny, glittery coatings that make them almost impossible to recycle. Laura Spring’s Fabric Wraps (lauraspring.co.uk, from £9.50) are designed for just this purpose – or use a silk scarf or a screen-printed tea-towel that can double up as an extra gift.
At least half of us will receive an unwanted gift this Christmas, so avoid yours being regifted, donated, or worse still, joining the 5% of Christmas gifts that go straight into the bin, and choose wisely. Think about an experience, such as an embroidery masterclass with textile artist Ekta Kaul – offered virtually or in-person in her London studio (ektakaul.com, from £70) – or a throwing course at The Leach Pottery in Cornwall’s St Ives (leachpottery.com, from £335 for three days).
Or go fully circular and buy a gift made from waste. Aimee Bollu combines the ‘detritus of the urban landscape’ with slip-cast or hand-turned vessels, elevating street litter to objet d’art (aimeebollu.com, from £150 for a set of three).
Bethan Gray’s Exploring Eden collection, created in collaboration with Nature Squared, includes the Pearl Shell Paper Weight (bethangray.com, £660) hand-crafted from the mother-of-pearl shell threads leftover from river pearl cultivation. Netherlands-based Studio Lindey Cafsia and Studio Carbon have designed a series of five cubical objects called Morphs (adorno.design, from £79), which can be used as anything from candle holders to key trays – they are made from a bio-composite, the main ingredient of which is cow dung, but don’t worry, they are odour-free. And because they are unglazed, they can be broken down and composted or remade at the end of their lives.
For more ideas, those in London can pop into The Home of Sustainable Things (thehost.store) in Islington, where they will find Studio Blast’s Myceliated Vase (£125), made from take-away cups that have been digested using mycelium – the thread-like feeding network of a fungus. Try one of the zero waste shops popping up all over the UK – from Earth Food Love in Totnes to the Zero Green Shop in Bristol and Store Brighton on the south coast – where you can often find locally-made gifts alongside their mainstay of dried goods. Or explore German online platform Eyes Wide (eyeswi.de) where you can filter products by ethical concern.
Shop mindfully, wrap with care, and rethink your tree – and there’s every chance you can enjoy a waste-free Christmas this year. Just make sure you eat all that leftover turkey.