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A few weeks ago I did a whole series on Lagom. This is the Swedish concept akin to being zero waste. All about living a life in balance. Not too little, and not too much, but just enough. It means that we are more mindful of what we are using, and encourages us to recycle and be more sustainable. So in the long term it saves us money, and perhaps the planet. Who doesn’t want to do those? So this year, why not have a Merry Lagom Christmas?
Merry Lagom Christmas
The mainstay of a Lagom zero waste lifestyle is to reuse, recycle and reduce how much we are using. To me the Christmas holiday is all about getting together and enjoying some quality time with the family. But it is also an increasingly commercial affair, and to children this means a load of new toys. And a lot of plastic. We throw an awful lot away over the holidays, from the wrapping paper to the toy boxes. In fact, the average home has at least 30% more waste over the festive season. So what can we do to make Christmas a less throwaway affair?
Maybe the most ecologically sound thing is to not give Christmas cards. But I do like cards, and they do arrive each year. Why not explain to friends that you won’t be giving cards and give the money to charity instead? Or send e-cards?
And as for the cards that you do receive, why not reuse them? When I was younger we used to turn some of our cards into tags for the following year using pinking shears and string.
You could also reuse some of the best bits from your cards in making new handmade ones of your own to send.
But I’ve found another decorative way to reuse old cards.
A Card Garland is easy to make by
- drawing circles around a glass on the fronts of the card,
- cutting out and sticking them together in pairs (I used a glue stick)
- sewing them on a sewing machine.
- Start with a really long length of thread before you sew.
- Sew the first pair of circles through the middle.
- As you reach the edge of one pair of circles, add the next pair.
- Leave a long length of thread at the end.
Make these as long as you need.
One of the best ways to have a Christmas tree is to have one that you can replant in the garden and reuse year in year out. Make sure to keep it watered and moist whilst indoors though.
However, for those of us that don’t have gardens, myself included, you may need to buy a fake tree or get a new cut real tree each year.
If you do get a real tree, a lot of councils and businesses advertise a service to come round afterwards to pick up and dispose of your tree in an ecologically sound way. Though actually cut real trees are not very ecologically sound. They create a lot of emissions. So, If you do have a fake tree, if you make it last a lot of years you may actually be being more ecologically sound overall than getting a real cut tree each year.
It is lovely to see all the shiny glittery baubles. But are they really that ecologically sound? Not if you are buying new ones each year!
Do reuse all the decorations year after year as much as possible. A lot of Christmas decorations are plastic, so can last for years as long as they are packed up securely and stored well each year in a dry cool place. Don’t keep just buying more.
Or think about making your own decorations such as salt dough or clay ornaments.
But one of the most Lagom ways of decorating is to get foliage, branches and flowers from the garden to decorate. You can use any extra branches that you don’t need from your real tree, plus holly, ivy and other seasonal plants from outdoors to decorate your mantle and hearth. Plus to make table centrepieces.
Christmas Wrapping Paper
You may not realise, but the vast majority of the wrapping paper that we think of putting in our green bin cannot be recycled at all. Especially if it has plastic surfaces, metallic or glitter finishes, as most do over Christmas. These all cannot be recycled and end up in landfill. In reality, we waste so much paper!
So a better idea, and one of the best and most recyclable wrappings is plain brown paper. You can spend some time using ink or stamps or decorating it yourself, or use pretty string, pine cones or lavender stems. Make it more personal. It can look so stylish, and is SO much cheaper too, as you can buy it on big rolls. (which can also be used for parcels!)
Why not reuse old paper and bags, keeping them to one side for reuse next year? I do save old bags, and just add a new tag these days. (maybe made from an old Christmas card?) It seems so wasteful to just throw them away.
Or you could use a scarf or piece of cloth to wrap presents. Lush has been offering this as a service for a while, but you could buy your own material, or even buy a second hand scarf from a charity shop.
Lastly, why not make fabric bags from Christmas fabric, with appliquéd names on them? These can be used year in and year out. A larger version of my Advent Calendar bags would be a great idea as a gift bag to reuse and reuse.
And while we are on the subject of presents, do we really need to buy so much this year? How much of it do we actually need?
Yes it is lovely to give and receive gifts, but maybe we need to stop just giving for the sake of it. Isn’t it a better idea just to give meaningful gifts?
I write about giving experience gifts in this post. Why not gift a day out, giving the gift of memories rather than ‘things’?
How about setting a budget if frugality is the main aim? My favourite idea is to give ‘vouchers’ such as an offer to babysit, or do somebody’s nails. Giving your time is a much better present.
You could also make a present. Give a cake that you have made, or other small hand made gift.
As to all the plastic toys that the children want? Well, there is always going to be the latest thing. But why not regift some of the old toys to children who are in need? Or give them to friends with younger children. Or sell them on eBay to make way for the new items that your child will be getting? It’s much better for the planet to buy second hand.
So whilst we are on the subject, why not buy preloved presents for other people? Buying other people’s unwanted new unwanted gifts or preloved items is a much better way than buying new. You can often save some money, get a bargain and find some real treasures. Looking at tabletop fairs, craft fairs and markets towards Christmas is great fun too!
A lot of the high street have announced this year that they will not be having small plastic items in crackers this year.
But even so, how ecofriendly is the Christmas cracker anyway, with its glittery shiny outer? Maybe it is time to forgo this tradition, or perhaps make your own.
Shopping local is the perfect way to have a zero way Christmas. Not only does it mean that you have a lower carbon footprint, but it means that you are putting money into the pockets of the local economy and helping local people and businesses rather than the multinationals.
And finally, maybe the most important part of Christmas is the food. How can you be more frugal and Lagom with your Christmas meal?
- plan what you are going to need and only buy what you will need to ensure no waste
- consider buying loose meat/fruit/veg and produce – so much waste goes into the packaging of Christmas food.
- think about going meat free – we all know that animal farming is a huge contributor to the climate change – perhaps think about having a nut roast instead of a turkey this year?
And do plan to use up all your leftovers too – or compost them where possible.
A Merry Lagom Christmas is not about me telling you how to life your life. I do realise that we are all strapped for time, and sometimes we have to spend money to save time. But you can save a lot of money, and make Christmas so much more personal by spending a little time and turning slightly away from the mass made market.
I hope you like some of my ideas for a Merry Lagom Christmas. Are there any that you would use? Do comment below.
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