By this time of the year, the weather gets chillier, the twinkling lights go up and the advertising ramps up for gifting and other “needs” for Christmas festivities. 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 - 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. It accounts for an extra 3 million tonnes of waste. It is key to remember that it is not just individuals who play a part in this waste and that brands and corporations capitalise on this season in a major way. Their carbon footprints are a lot higher than any individual's or groups of people combined. As individuals, it is important not to carry the guilt of it all. But instead, look to empower local producers and brands who give back to society and communities in meaningful ways. This means choosing to spend our money in a way that supports those striving to create a better world through their businesses. We can’t fix the entire system but we can keep the season fun and exciting minus the waste on an individual level to start with. In this spirit, I am collaborating with the NLWA (North London Waste Authority) to help us all do this in a small way. The NLWA manages waste transportation and disposal on behalf of seven London boroughs in the north London area, serving over two million people. They indisputably see a peak in waste during the Christmas season. Among other things, the simple act of mindful gifting and wrapping can make a difference. So, here are three simple ways to gift mindfully this festive season.
1. Create collages with magazines/newspapers to wrap gifts
We all pick up booklets, newspapers and magazines over the year. If we decide to keep them, most end up in a corner of our home whether we’ve read them or not. A great exercise pre-Christmas is to scour your home for those lost magazines, leaflets and newspapers you don’t want to keep and use them as wrapping paper for gifts. You can keep it simple by just selecting cool images you think the person receiving the gift might like or you can create a cool collage with a mix of images to take the personalisation of the gift to the next level. One thing is for sure: your gift will stand out from the pile of presents. I decided to add "Merry Christmas" to mine in collage letters below for that touch of "cool".
2. Furoshiki style: using fabric to wrap gifts
Furoshiki style is a traditional Japanese style of wrapping goods, originally to travel with them. It has now become a popular way of wrapping gifts too. The concept is simple: use fabric to beautifully wrap an object/gift. There are countless Furoshiki styles out there as well, so there's a style for every personality. The bonus here is that the fabric is also usually an opportunity for a second gift if you chose to use a pretty scarf that the person can also wear for example. It is a gift in a gift! What's more thoughtful and magical than that?
Watch the above video for a step by step Furoshiki wrapping tutorial.
3. Repurposing delivery boxes and packages
We all make online orders which get delivered in boxes all the time. All sorts of boxes, in all shapes and sizes depending on the order, arrive at our doorsteps. Sometimes there are also large brown papers in those boxes, meant to protect the item in case of impact. These are usually easily dropped in the recycle bin, but something I’ve done over the years is kept some of these boxes and wrappers to reuse. Sometimes they become storage boxes, sometimes I use them to send other items (if you are on Vinted and Depop this is a lifesaver when you sell items). As the festive season approaches, why not repurpose them to wrap gifts? They are great because the box shape makes it easy to wrap anything you pop into it. Those brown papers can also be used as wrapping paper for the box with the gift. Sounds boring BUT why not draw, paint, collage, write messages or quotes on the paper to make it festive. It's a blank canvas you can personalise for the person you are gifting to. If you're like me and your drawing skills are not top notch, it's OK. I think it's the thought and the fun of it that counts the most. It also just adds a personal touch to your gift that can put a smile on the face of the person you are gifting to.
Check out the NLWA for more tips on how to mitigate your household waste. Remember to support local, sustainable and ethical businesses this season as well when and if you can!
In collaboration with: