Can You Have an Eco-Friendly Sustainable Green Christmas?
The answer is YES! And here to share their top tips on how you can make some simple swaps to create a festive and fun eco-friendly sustainable green Christmas is Sharon Keilthy, founder of Ireland’s eco toystore Jiminy.ie.
Eco Toystore Jiminy.ie Founder, Sharon Keilthy with her daughter
Just think … what if Christmas were all about experiences? Time together? Any maybe a few, valued, long-lasting new items? As Sharon from Jiminy.ie shares her ideas for a green Christmas, we’d love to hear your top tips so we’re leaving the comment box open for you to share yours below.
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #1
Advent calendars don’t have to involve several layers of plastic! You can make or buy fill-it-yourself Advent calendars (think experiences, or puzzle pieces, family photos, in-jokes, instead of plastic toys or plastic-encased treats!), or an increasing number of plastic-free Advent calendars.
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #2
Gift an Experience
- Buy day pass, annual pass, or just a voucher for a day out.
- Or don’t buy anything, just craft a memorable trip together.
- Jiminy’s plantable experience gift cards make a nice “something to hand them on the day”.
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #3
The higher quality the toy, the more likely it will be resold in condition good enough to gift! Browse:
- Local charity shops or their online shop Thriftify.
- Offer and ask in Facebook freecycle groups like Zero Waste Freecycle Ireland / Preloved Toys Ireland – Imagine, Create, Build, or your local area may have its own.
- For LEGO try one of the LEGO buy/sell Ireland Facebook groups, Munster Bricks, or Bricklink – and/or an annual subscription to BrickIt app – an app that creates step-by-step instructions for hundreds of builds using whatever random pieces you have.
Bioblo eco rainbow stacking blocks – jiminy.ie
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #4
Gift Sustainable New
Look for toys made from recycled materials, or plants – wood, bioplastic, bamboo. 90% of a toy’s carbon footprint is what it’s made of; its packaging and how far it has travelled are the other 10%.
As Ireland’s eco toystore, Jiminy.ie specialises in sustainably-made new toys, but you’ll also find some in most toys stores – and it’s a nice micro-activism to ask for the ‘eco section’ even if the response is a blank look!
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #5
Wrapping Your Gifts
Plastic-coated (shiny / metallic / glittery) wrapping paper can’t be recycled, but matt “normal paper” wrapping paper can! If you can tear it, it’s recyclable.
Look for wrapping paper that’s been recycled and can be recycled again.
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #6
Consider Your Christmas Tree Choices
The most eco-friendly Christmas tree is one that already exists (or a locally-grown and recycled real tree)
What’s better, a real tree, a fake tree, or a cardboard tree?
- The reusable tree you already have, or can buy pre-loved, is the best.
- If you need to buy new, a real Christmas tree grown locally is best.
- Ideally a living tree you can use for several years. Check-out pot-grown trees (not grown in the earth and then potted – those die quickly) like these;
- Failing a reusable living tree, a single-use real tree from a tree farm that you recycle or compost afterwards.
- Or, plant your own Christmas tree!
Decorated Christmas Tree Photo by Annie Spratt
Please don’t buy a new artificial tree. But…”a new plastic reusable tree is best if you use it for 5 years or more” – you’ve heard that before, right? I don’t believe it, and here’s why:
- That statement is based on two solitary studies paid for by the ACTA (American association for producers of plastic Christmas trees), both overseen by the same two people. Do you think they’re unbiased?
- Those studies:
- Accept that making artificial trees from metal and plastic, and transporting from China, emits lots of CO2 (and we agree, that’s just science).
- Say that composting trees emits lots of CO2 (but the EPA says composting is carbon-negative).
- Forgets that the real tree is replaced on the tree farm by new-grown trees – which will absorb as much CO2 as the dead tree emits – that’s the natural carbon cycle.
Real Christmas Trees Photo by Susan Q Yin
The New York Times quotes Mr. O’Connor of the N.C.T.A (American association for sellers of real trees) as rejecting the study’s findings, saying it was “fall-off-your-horse simple that a tree made out of oil, turned into PVC plastic in China and shipped over on a boat, cannot be better than growing a real tree.”
Companies and associations have in the past spread misinformation to support their own agendas. E.g.: March 1988, Du Pont Chair Richard E. Heckert to the United States Senate, “…scientific evidence does not point to the need for dramatic CFC emission reductions. There is no available measure of the contribution of CFCs to any observed ozone change…” (source)
This video lacks data / legible sources but it’s accurate (to my knowledge), it makes the points well, and is nicely shareable!
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #7
Christmas Crackers for The Big Day
Traditional Christmas crackers have been the source of an hour’s fun and then gone to landfill. In Ireland we estimate that over 10 million are pulled every year! Laid end-to-end, they would stretch from here to the North Pole!
So reusable Christmas crackers are a refreshing change to this. Like with the Advents, fill with family in-jokes, photos, “Who Am I” game cards and homemade treats.
Or seek out plastic-free crackers, more and more shops are stocking them, and where there’s demand there’ll be supply.
- Do you have a local toy library? Check Jiminy’s map here ;
- Stock-up on books from your local library before it closes for the holidays.
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #9
Food Glorious Food
More veggies, less meat. ‘Just enough food’ and freezing leftovers to minimise waste.
Further Reading: How To Make This Christmas Extra Special in 5 Wonderful Ways
Christmas Dinner Table Photo by Leon Seibert
Sustainable Green Christmas Tip #10
The biggest thing we can all do for our planet this Christmas is to stay local or travel over land and sea. Every flight we skip is a huge Christmas gift to our planet, even if we off-set. Our planet needs us to plant the “off-set” trees and also skip the flight!
As seen on: RTE News (watch) | Late Late Toy Show | Irish Times 100 Retailers
Winner: Chambers Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Award 2022, Business Spirit Award 2020
1st runner-up: Small Business Website of the Year 2021 (Digital Business Ireland)
Awardee: Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact Programme 2022, Let Toys Be Toys inclusive toystore Toymark
PIN: 10 Top Tips for an Eco-Friendly Sustainable Green Christmas
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