10 Ideas For A Plastic Free Christmas With Children
Wrapping Paper – by far one of the biggest waste of resources over Christmas is the wrapping paper we use. We wrap our carefully thought out presents with beautiful paper only for it to be ripped off by excited kids in mere seconds and thrown to the side without a second thought. Unfortunately most of this paper can’t be recycled due to a special coating on the paper, it also might contain sellotape, ribbons, string etc and this will contaminate the batch of recycling. Alternatives are easy and fun
- Plain brown paper is cheap and recyclable. You can add potato prints with the kids in different colours or add old Christmas cards as labels.
- Fabric wraps can be used many times over. By buying a stash of material – either offcuts, precut sizes or dedicated Christmas fabric you can easily wrap any present for the children – I just bought 12 metres for £22 from my local dept store. I started this last year and it went down incredibly well with my four. I didn’t even need to do anything fancy so it was so much quicker to wrap than normal paper, scissors and tape. I literally just folded material over the present and used the weight of the present to hold the material in place, carefully placed under the tree or in their stockings. They knew they had to be careful removing it. I asked them which they preferred and they all said the fabric as was easier to get into and so they got to their present quicker!
Go Glitter Free – Sorry, I know we all love glitter but we now know that standard glitter is made of plastic so every single tiny piece will end up in our environment – whether this is washed down the sinks when we wash the children’s glitter covered hands or if it ends up in our hoovers and bins it can escape the waste system. Biodegradable or eco-friendly glitter has not been proven to break down quickly in the marine environment and still runs the risk of causing harm to aquatic creatures during the degrading process.
Tree Decorations – so many cheap sets on offer from the big supermarkets it is hard to resist their colour coordinated promise of a perfect tree! The reality as we know is that the kids will all put the decorations low down and all together so it really doesn’t matter what goes on there!
- Popcorn strings
- Real green foliage – holly, fir, pine cones etc around the picture frames, mantelpiece
- Handmade tree decorations – give the children Christmas cookie cutter shapes to draw around and let them create their own decorations. Glitter free please!
Reindeer Food – What a great new tradition this is for the children to enjoy but it needs to be done responsibly. Wild bird seed mixes are fantastic for sprinkling onto the grass – this in itself is exciting enough for the children. We don’t need to add in glitter or sequins to make this magic. The magic is in the belief that the reindeer will come.
Let’s resist the plastic clutter of all these new Christmas presents for the children. Try to stick to the 4 present rule for each child – something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. As this becomes the new tradition children’s expectations will become more focused on the joy each present brings rather than how many they get. We over consume in our society to the point of incredible excess and in many cases this accumulation of stuff is stifling home environments making more work to clean up, more cheap items to break and more waste of resources. If you can, encourage family and friends to consider gifting experiences rather than presents.
Ideas might be
- Swimming or sport lessons
- Local family pass to an attraction/National Trust
- Voucher for time spent with a relative ie Day out with Grandparents
- Sporting match or cinema tickets
Organise a mini beach clean or litter pick with your family on your traditional Boxing Day walk. Don’t forget your reusable water bottles or flasks – try filling a flask of hot chocolate for the kids to keep warm. What a great new tradition!
Try to shop locally and without excess plastic packaging. Local farm shops are a great source of fresh food and most fruit and veg are loose. You can either choose your own or some of them will have Christmas lists where you can order in advance.
Make Paper Chains instead of tinsel for the room decorations. You can buy kits or the children can make their own.
Christmas Cookie baking is great fun – all you need is Christmas cookie cutters and you can leave the children to ice and decorate the biscuits. Saving on buying packets of biscuits packaged in plastic.
Plastic free leftovers – put all leftovers in reusable containers rather than wrapping in clingfilm. These can be turned into a delicious bubble and squeak or turkey and cranberry sandwiches for your Boxing Day walk.
Good luck! I hope you find these ideas useful to not only reduce your use of plastic over the coming weeks but also to make life easier and more fun for you and the kids!