The secret to giving the gift of a zero waste Christmas

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Ah, that time again – the shelves in the shops are filled with chocolates, gifts and cards, ready for Christmas.

Or, as is the case over here, the stores have been filled with Christmas goods since the middle of August!

What’s a zero waster to do, to avoid excess but still have a great time with family and friends?

Well the first thing to remember is the family and friends bit. Notice I didn’t mention food, things or stuff. Although, that’s what Christmas seems to have become all about.

It seems we’re rapidly losing much of the meaning around Christmas and it’s fast becoming about buying, wasting and doing things in excess. I don’t know about you, but it feels to me as if we’re on a roller coaster ride towards the checkouts and spending more each year.

According to various sources on the internet, the average family in the UK will spend between £500 and £1500 on Christmas.

So it’s important nothing is wasted, right?

And one of the easiest ways I’ve found is to give experiences rather than ‘things’ to people as gifts.

We’ve all experienced the heart sink moment when we’ve opened a gift and found it to be completely inappropriate, unliked or unsuitable. We have to feign delight, all the while wondering how soon we can get rid of it!

And if you’re honest, wouldn’t you rather the hard earned money you spend on something for someone else be appreciated, rather than unwanted? I know I would.

Here are some of the gifts I have given in recent years – all of which have been extremely well received:

For my parents, I’ve given vouchers to their favourite restaurant. This is a great way for them to spend quality time together and get spoiled while someone else does all the cooking.

For my daughter, I’ve given tickets to see her favourite band or TV show – she still talks about some of the amazing events she’s been to years later.

For friends with a newborn, I’ve gifted a session of family portrait photography through Bidvine (in case you’ve not heard of Bidvine, it’s a time saving way of finding local service professionals)- it’s a gift that lasts a lifetime and one of their favourite photos is still on their living room wall for everyone to enjoy.

For an artistic friend, I’ve signed her up to a class or workshop that is related to a hobby, such as watercolour painting, photography or quilting.

And some of the best presents cost nothing at all: for elderly friends I’ve given them my time and taken them out for a drive through a nearby forest. The smiles on their faces are beyond anything money can buy.

What about you? What are the gifts you’ve given that have said ‘I love you’ to the recipient, as well as the environment?

Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss is founder of MyZeroWaste.com and ZeroWasteWeek.co.uk Both are leading websites for helping householders reduce landfill waste. Her work has attracted media stories and engagement in documentaries, film and radio both locally and abroad.

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