By this time of the year, there are two major moods: it will be a festive season of binge eating and spending money on presents. However, with the rise of conscious and mindful living two new rival moods have set in: on one side we are bombarded by consumer corporation giants to shop for ourselves and for the ones we love (the guilt-tripping/high anxiety message to find the perfect gifts are familiar to us all), and then on the other side there are more conversations about the actual negative impact of this period on the planet and people and how to do it differently. To say Christmas is SO EXTRA is an understatement. Still, I’m loving the mindful Christmas narrative that’s happening right now and all I want to do is further it, but first let’s start by facing the harsh facts and then look at ways to become our best conscious/mindful selves for this season and the next.
Facing the facts
The ugly truth is that Christmas is not just the most wonderful time of the year but also the most wasteful time of the year! Yes, we spend a lot, we eat a lot, we travel a lot and more. Most companies love it because for example in retail – most brands make about 30% of their profit between November and December. Studies show that across the globe our carbon footprint in this period is higher by 6% compared to the rest of the year and its all an extra 3 million tonnes of waste. Not to mention that the whole "most wonderful time" narrative is also questionable as many say they feel an increase of anxiety as the season approaches due to expectations (how to travel home, bringing the significant other along, presents for everyone, new year parties...etc). Ultimately, it does not have to be that way so this Christmas, why not focus on easy steps to make it less stressful & less wasteful – sounds great right?!
Think different for your Christmas tree
We all love a gorgeous tree. I’m guilty of this: last year I got a tree on discount – a real baby pine tree (my apartment is small so I needed something that fit). I must confess that it was on a whim – I saw it and it looked very natural, decorated with dried oranges and other fruits…fast forward to a week or two and it starts to dry and shed so badly. I felt guilty and thought why? It was completely unnecessary. The estimation is that about 50-60 million trees are produced and cut down every year – there are some ethical tree farming, but it is still undeniable that when it comes to throwing these away, the waste is huge. Additionally, a percentage of these trees are harvested through uncontrolled forest exploitation which creates environmental imbalances. A plastic tree can be kept for years but once it comes to throwing that, it’s also not ideal for the environment. How can we approach this differently?
Rent a living Christmas tree in a pot from London Christmas Tree Rental.
Use one of your house plants as a tree by putting lights on it.
Buy simple flowers to decorate your place .
Other ways to do cards, wrappers & other shenanigans
I know, I love getting cards too. They put a smile on your face and opening a present with lovely wrapping paper gives you a nice tingling feeling of anticipation. but, listen to this: we use 125 000 tonnes of plastic packaging for gifts and an astonishing amount ends up in the ocean. Plus, we send enough Christmas cards that if we placed them alongside each other, they’d cover the world’s circumference 500 times. 500 TIMES. Say it with me: there. is. a. better. way.
Send an e-card, a meaningful email or text messages - a heartfelt message is worth more than a million cards.
Use recyclable wrapping paper for your gifts and make sure those who receive it, recycle (leave a little note on it for example to let them know it can be recycled)
Use fabrics to wrap and do Furoshiko wrapping - it's pretty and artsy.
Buy local and support small business
Big consumers corporations bank big at Christmas. For most, it is the biggest financial season of the year so it’s no surprise that during this period, we are bombarded with advertising messages that entice us to shop with them. Truth be told our money will have more of an impact if it went to local & small businesses who struggle most of the year! Supporting them means supporting communities and local neighbourhoods and helping them thrive into the new year.
Where to start:
Find a London Christmas market near you (trust me they are everywhere)
There are meat auctions in London this time of the year (featuring great local farmer produces)
Hunt for gifts in local charity/secondhand stores
Be reasonable with food at Christmas - don't make excessive food and try to donate to those in need if you can.
Get on the mindful gifting trend
We’ve all heard the term mindful giving. It's all about gifts that are not only unique but are also good for the planet, plus support people and communities. I love the uprise in this movement and if you live in London – mindful gifting is everywhere thanks to local Christmas markets filled with local artisans and producers who focus on useful gifts for all. Support real people and make your loved ones happy.
How to start:
Buy secondhand gifts – don’t forget that secondhand stores have unique objects and accessories aside from clothes that someone you know might love.
Buy useful presents they will cherish for life (avoid novelty gifts that end up in the bin).
Invest in gift experiences – why not buy an experience: take them out for lunch, buy a massage experience or something you know they would love to do. You’re gifting them great memories and that’s priceless.
Buy gifts for those who really need it with the Choose Love pop-up initiative in London. A place you can directly buy gifts for refugees.
My favourite space for mindful gifts is WEARTH London.
Your sequin outfit doesn’t have to cost the planet
Partywear is the buzzword of the fashion world during this season: they’re fun and look great but are not necessarily the best option. Research from Oxfam shows that women in the UK will buy 33 million new sequinned items during the holidays. Most of these will be worn this year, then never again. Friends, we all know there is a better way around your festive season wardrobe. Here are a few.
Dress for the best impact:
Burrow a dress from a friend or family member (that stunning dress your cousin wore last Christmas that you loved, why not borrow it and wear it this year?)
Shop secondhand! This ties in with the fact that so many dresses are bought this season and worn just once. Some people will donate those dresses to charity and if you’re a lucky bugger you could be wearing someone’s only once worn Karen Millen stunner for Christmas!
Nothing is ever perfect but starting with these little mindful and conscious steps could set you on your way to see and live Christmas differently.