It's possible to have a happy AND sustainable Christmas. UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Project Assistant Breeshey Kermode offers some ideas:
After the year no-one was ready for, spirits are high this Christmas and we are all desperate to spoil and spend time with our family, friends and loved ones. We are tremendously lucky to be able to celebrate Christmas the way that it should be celebrated, in our UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man ‘bubble’. The Isle of Man can offer everything you need to enjoy a sustainable, plastic-free, and fun festive season.
Always check the spare room, the loft or that cupboard before you begin your festive fork-out. It is absolutely possible to have a sustainable Christmas without missing out on any of the fun.
A great starting point is sifting through your previous years’ stuff. You may not need to buy any new decorations, and you might even find a recyclable gift, completely untouched and unloved, from the Secret Santa at the exercise class you no longer go to.
Reuse and revamp any other items around the house you can think of. Have a crafter-noon with friends or the kids making salt dough decorations, or dig out Grandma’s recipe for home-made mulled wine. Once you have established what can be used and what for, you can start to think about your buying needs.
Use what nature gives us to make decorations
If you do need to buy new decorations, remember there is a plethora of locally made tree hangers, bunting, ornaments, stockings, wreaths, candles, ribbons and advent calendars available.
When transforming your home into a Grotto, consider your electrical consumption. If you have plug-in lights or other decorations, think about using a timer to limit the number of hours things are on for and avoid leaving lights on overnight.
Many light sets and light-up decorations are now battery powered. Invest in rechargeable batteries with a charger, meaning you will no longer need to throw away batteries after every use and you can eventually eliminate the need to buy them.
Take a material or wooden reusable advent calendar and fill it with treats of your choice - avoid using throw away calendars with a plastic insert.
The talented community of local creators produce an array of desirable gift choices and cards, such as artistic charms, paintings, homeware, clothing, foodstuff, books, music, jewellery, beauty products and alcohol. This can all be found in shops across the Island and, more often than not, items can be purchased online and delivered directly to your home.
Take a trip to local pop-up Christmas markets across the Island to see what is on offer, and soak up the atmosphere while supporting the Manx economy. Selecting a unique, crafty or hand-made gift can often feel a lot more personal to the receiver. Remember to choose gifts that have longevity and purpose, not one that will be thrown away after the novelty has worn away.
If you have a hard-to-buy-for friend or relative, don’t forget most local shops have a gift voucher option available. Of course, if you are a creative person yourself, set yourself a challenge to create a collection of sustainable gifts for your loved ones.
Wrap with care for the planet as well as the recipient
We all have our own style of wrapping. Some of us are meticulous, tight wrappers with gridlines for folding and scissors for sticky tape. Others, well what are teeth for? So long as you can’t see what is under the paper its fine, right? No matter your style, be a sustainable wrapper. Look to use either locally designed or sourced wrapping paper that is recyclable, with no plastic film or trimmings, including cello tape. A traditional, timeless favourite is brown paper and string, with craft shops offering this in abundance.
We advise against using glitter, as it enters the environment and could damage wildlife. Even if it says it is biodegradable, this may require specific environmental conditions, which may not be available. A more environmentally friendly method to try is to take a few different coloured leaves and use a hole-puncher to collect ‘wild glitter’. Of course be sure to use dry leaves that have fallen naturally.
The Island is stocked with a massive variety of local food and drink choice for the festive season. You can execute an entire Christmas feast made up of entirely local produce. There is lots of information online to guide you with your food shop, including where and how to buy everything on your shopping list. Look out for farmers' shops, markets and honesty boxes. If collecting a bag of potatoes and throwing your change in an honesty box on a rural country road doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy…
Manx it a Manx gift under the tree
On the Christmas come-down, remember to think twice before you throw anything away. Can that wrapping paper be reused next year? Is that food waste suitable for the compost pile? Can that plastic be recycled? If you were lucky enough to receive a new wardrobe for Christmas, or just fancy a sort out before the New Year, ensure your old clothes go to the charity shop or clothes bank. Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions can be to consider and practise sustainability, or to spread the word if you already do so.
Wishing you a merry and sustainable Christmas from the Biosphere team.