Have yourself a sustainable lower impact economically sensible Christmas… (and Black Friday deals!)

So I’ve been thinking about this for a while: I bloody love Christmas – but the whole thing has gone slightly mad.

Something changed in me when I had B. Suddenly I stopped not caring about stuff. (Some would say my stone cold heart may have thawed a tiny bit.) There’s something about having a child that makes you care a bit about the world they’re growing up in and the one you’re going to leave behind.

I’m very very far from eco. I have always been a consumer. But the tide is turning (figuratively and literally, a giant wave of rubbish is moving across our oceans, smothering the sea life) and most recently here in the U.K. we’ve had a high profile advert imploring us not to use palm oil because it’s killing orangutans and the rainforest, and we’ve had Martin Lewis of moneysupermarket telling everyone not to go into debt for Christmas, and to give people the gift of not being obliged to reciprocate gifts.

Now, I love gift giving. And I honestly don’t expect stuff in return. (I’m a dreadfully ungrateful present recipient – I am really bad at pretending to like things I don’t like.) But it’s got me to thinking whether I should really be buying loads of stuff that I’ve done in previous years.

I’ve tended to go all out at Christmas and it probably isn’t necessary. If it’s not reusable then it’s just going to be wasteful. I love the high end luxury stuff but a lot of it is glittery disposable stuff that isn’t worth the premium packaging that gets instantly discarded. (I’m looking at you, Jo Malone / Molton Brown!) Plus I just don’t have so much spare cash now I seem to enjoy spending it on B!

I’m not quite at the wooden toy evangelist level. I don’t ban plastic from our home or anything like that. (One of B’s favourite toys is the €4 cleaning set with a dustpan and brush that his godmother bought him when we went to visit her. Yes it’s plastic tat but he uses it a lot.)

I’ve gently tried to steer anyone who asks towards some of the sustainable / wooden toy providers (Yes Bébé is my current favourite) but I also appreciate that people like to choose gifts or may not afford certain things and I’m not going to deny them the pleasure of choosing something for themselves if that’s what they want to do. I mean, B likes everything (especially the boxes it comes in) so it’s a win win.

Anyway, tonight I ordered a load of my Christmas stuff so I thought I would share because things like that make me excited and get me in the Christmas mood! Here’s my list so far… I am getting a lot of repeats so most people will have a combination of a few of them! Plus there are still some Black Friday deals on some of them!

Christmas tree

We had a potted tree last year in the hopes we could keep it alive and reuse it. That didn’t work! We ended up with two trees and we kept one alive until August but then he died… So this year we are getting a 7-8 ft tree from Patch London. Using code RUPERT0010 may get you a discount this weekend! We saw them (pic above) at Taste London and they look like great quality. So cutting down a tree doesn’t exactly fit with being eco, but Patch replace all the chopped trees and it seems better to use a nice tree for a few weeks and dispose of it in a biodegradable way than to buy a plastic one.

Christmas cards

Again I’m not going to sound any credentials for these because the true way to be sustainable is not to send cards. But I have family and friends who I still share cards with and so I’ve decided to send just to a few people and the others can go without as we’ll just message each other on Facebook or something. I’ve ordered ours from Vistaprint – they have a Black Friday deal code VP2711 for up to 60% off and that runs till 27 November.

Wall calendars

I’ve ordered calendars featuring the latest photos of B that we took in the bluebells. They’re the third session with our photographer who took his newborn shots and they are amazing. Obviously I’m utterly biased but he looks really cute and it’s a nice gift to give grandparents, aunts and uncles. Not massively eco friendly but they’re in use all year round and with the Black Friday code from Vistaprint they cane to just over £6 each, which is amazing! I’ve enjoyed seeing his photos from last year on our calendar and it’s up in my parents’ kitchen as well so they must like it!

Reusable drinks containers

So my big present this year is coffee cups from Stojo. The difference between these and others is that they’re collapsible so they don’t take up loads of space in your bag. I’m very excited about these. All the chains have now started charging for paper cups, and giving you about 25% off your drink if you use a reusable one, so I think these will come in handy. I found them in Robert Dyas for £5 under retail. And they come in a nice holiday red! I’ve literally bought 15 or something which is crazy but I think it’ll be a cool little gift for friends and family.

If you’re like me and drink a lot of water, you’re already carrying water bottles around with you. I love the brand Cotopaxi – it’s an ethical brand that employs local people in South America and Asia to make its products. I already have three rucksacks and a bag from there and I have this awesome water bottle – it’s a bit expensive to buy all my friends as gifts, but if I was feeling more flush, I would. You may have guessed by now I like red.

Organic cotton travel towels

Okay bear with me because this sounds boring AF but I am soooo pleased with these! I saw these at Taste London and the moment I felt the blanket I was sold (soooo soft!). They’re made from Turkish cotton (some kind of organic certification and whatnot) and the selling point is they are way absorbent but pack down really small, and they look cool and they also can be worn as scarves, used as blankets etc. I bought two travel towels for my best friend and her sister who always travel on holiday at Christmas, and I got the larger (sooooft) blanket for us. And now they have a Black Friday deal on where their new range of travel towels are like 40% off which is insane, so I just bought a load more to give to friends, because who doesn’t want a travel towel / scarf thing? Exactly! You can also get free shipping thru Cyber Monday with code BLACKFRIDAYSECRET!

If you could only touch this blanket you’d be able to feel how soooooft it is! Swoon!

Fair trade ethically sourced artisan scarves

Yeah that was a mouthful but these things are pretty gorgeous. Fair Fibres is a start up company selling gorgeous scarves and pashminas made by disabled weavers in Nepal and Kashmir. I gave my first one as a birthday gift and the recipient was over the moon. I think now people are becoming more aware of the provenance of things and they want stuff that is less disposable and that hasn’t been made in a sweatshop. After the glowing review the first one received, I ordered a further two for friends’ Christmas gifts. There are lots of different colours and patterns… of course I went for the red one!

Bamboo (and rainbow!) toothbrushes

I found these on Amazon… I haven’t bought them yet as I was debating whether to or not, as I’m not sure if a toothbrush as a gift is something my friends and family aren’t quite ready for! But I love rainbows and it would be a bit eco, so we shall see. Either way I’ll probably end up getting them at some point!

Finally I had a whole internal debate over packaging. I’ve always loved making amazing exciting looking presents. When I was younger I’d pride myself on my gift wrapping. BUT, that’s very un-environmentally friendly! As a compromise I have decided I’ll try and use up the wrapping paper from last year (if I can find it in the spare room) and I’ve also bought a load of red cotton totes off amazon that I’m going to decorate with gold fabric paint. Some of you will remember my projects from last year with the jute bags. I thought totes might be more usable in an everyday context because you can fold them up. And they’re cheaper to buy in bulk. So not eco in themselves probably (I doubt they’re organic cotton for that price!) but it’s kind of encouraging re-use so I hope that’s doing a bit.

So that’s my Christmas shopping so far! I don’t know if that’s really boring looking or what, but I feel like I’ve tried to be a bit more thoughtful in what I’ve bought. In the end it comes to quite a lot, but probably less than if I’d gone and spent £50-£100 on people to get them a “decent” gift.

My other plan is to put a handwritten (yeah maybe I’ll print it!) note in explaining the thinking behind the gift and also saying what I am really thankful for from that person. Because I want to give people the gift of time, and effort. If I have time I might even make some items of food, but I don’t know if I’ll manage that!

What do you think? Does this all sound whacko or is it old hat and you’ve already gone off grid and live a minimal carbon footprint life in a forest somewhere?!

Of course we’re not doing sustainable or possibly even ethical for little B… He’s getting a ride on train set in the middle of the living room on Christmas morning because that’s how we roll! 🤣🤣

We actually bought it at the Baby Show last year but he finally seems big enough for it now and he absolutely loved it when he tried it at this year’s show!

Train by Peg Perego

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12 comments

  1. Hufflestitch

    We don’t do gifts for grownups except my parents and inlaws. But my son is getting art supplies, new animals for his ‘small world’ play table, a toddler friendly atlas, magnetic wooden numbers and letters and maybe a balance bike.

    My mum will get vouchers for her favourite quilting shop and my stepdad some stuff for his darts. My mum is trying to collect supplies so she has a bit of stash for when she retires and has less money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      I usually go all out on my family and then buy for a few friends, so I don’t really want to stop that immediately because I think it would be a bit harsh! But it’s going to be a bit lower key.

      I thought about a small world play table but not sure where it would fit!! B doesn’t seem especially into it right now (the Holztiger animals are largely ignored! And the nins!) but I suppose it might change as he gets older. He’s very physical as a player so we are getting a pikler triangle for his birthday with a slide!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hufflestitch

        There are some smaller ways to do small world play 🙂 it is an Australian woman but Lifelong Little Learners on instagram and Facebook have amazing ideas, for small spaces too.

        Yeah, stopping straight away would be a bit weird. My family is so big it was never an expectation at all, lol, 9 siblings, 8 siblings-in-law, 14 niblings… we do a secret santa for the kids, I have my 9 year old niece who is getting Lego.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nara

        Yeah, we had loads of Playmobil as kids and I really liked it. I’ll have a look at the insta. We aren’t very minimalist though so I think the kid is unlikely to be! 😂

        Like

  2. spiteorflight

    I love Vistaprint, I use them for everything. They always have a sale running, and the quality is just the best. I usually upload my own design, but this year I found so many cute options I used one of theirs. Our Christmas cards just came the other day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Ah cute! Yeah they’ve really improved a lot since the old days! They used to be a bit shoddy on the designs and you’d have to do a lot of design yourself, but now they are great! And so cheap! I was going to do photobox sale but vistaprint is the same price without the sale!

      Like

  3. Maternally Optimistic

    Oooh I like they coffee cups! great idea. I might add a couple of them and some of the toothbrushes to some gifts.
    I am not overly eco friendly but i am trying to do a few small things in my everyday life with the theory that every little helps. My christmas thing this year if brown paper for wrapping presents as it is recyclable unlike normal wrapping paper. I have then bought a gold sharpie to write a message on it and made a boy out of red, green and white striped bakers twine. Very vintage lol but also better for the environment.
    I have tried this year to buy a few wooden sustainable toys for my toddler but it will be mixed in with some lovely plastic I’m sure lol xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yes, I’m definitely very early on in my journey and not going mega green any time soon – just trying to minimise my impact a bit (and probably not succeeding!). I am just trying to be a bit more conscious about the shopping choices I make… whilst also being very lazy! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marixsa

    We’re into the whole “gone off grid and live a minimal carbon footprint life in a forest somewhere” idea for Christmas gifts, but being sustainable isn’t always, well, sustainable in reality! But I love the challenge of giving sustainable, eco-friendly gifts and at least TRY to watch our footprint!

    But things like reusing wrapping paper? Yes please! Why not?! And whenever someone gives me a gift in a gift bag, I always half-jokingly tell them they’ll probably get that same bag back again someday! Why throw perfectly good stuff away, amiright?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yes totally! Gift wrap is the worst, but at least gift bags can be reused! I have also bought some cotton bags so we shall see if I get round to decorating them! Haha!

      Like

  5. Dubliner in Deutschland

    Totally not the point of your post, but I’m also bad at pretending to like presents I don’t! Or maybe I pretend too enthusiastically sometimes so as not to hurt the person’s feelings because I end up with something similar the year after! I’m thinking of my mother in law in particular. She is constantly giving us nick nack type stuff for the house.

    Liked by 1 person

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