Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stitchybritt's thoughts for a more sustainable Christmas

It’s no secret, everyone knows: I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love cooking, baking, eating, drinking, sewing, gluing, wrapping, decorating, writing, sending, giving and all the fun stuff in between. But I’m also very aware of the crazy amount of unconsidered consumerism that happens at Christmas time, the amount of waste this creates, and the impact this has on our planet. So, I thought I would put together this little list of ideas for a more sustainable Christmas.

Before I get into the stuff you need to buy, what about the stuff you need to get rid of? Earlier this year, I pledged that for every thing I acquired, I would get rid of something else. So, knowing that I’ve probably got a couple of gifts on the way, I’ve been giving away loads of old stuff on Freecycle. Freecycle is an online community, with groups in thousands of cities and towns, specifically set up to give and receive stuff for free. You just list your item on the site and people will email you to come and collect it. Easy! This week I got rid of a VHS Video Player, a pasta roller, a towel rack and a bunch of other stuff that was just collecting dust. Consider using Freecycle AFTER Christmas as well, maybe there’s someone out who would really appreciate the bright pink towels your great aunt bought you : P

Christmas stockings I made last year from eco-friendly fabric

Ok, so most of you are probably rushing around like crazy at the moment trying to think which gift to buy what person. It’s not fun, is it? And the other downside is that most of the things you’re going to buy in your average shopping centre are mass-manufactured in another country, in factories that create massive amounts of pollution, out of unsustainable materials, and the items had to be shipped here, creating even more transport pollution. Yicky. The solution? You can make gifts (yes, you can!) or you can buy gifts handmade by other people – in your town! If you’re unsure about your making ability, or you’re not sure what to make, visit the Crafty Christmas Club for stacks of great ideas, many that don’t require much skill. If you want to peruse lovely handmade gifts online, of course Etsy is your first point of call (and you can shop by your location too). If you’re in Australia or New Zealand also check out MadeIt, Blue Caravan, Georgie Love, LeeLoo and Felt. Christmas shopping solved! And you didn’t even have to find a car park.

Next: how are you going to wrap those gifts? Not in that awful santa print cheap wrap from the supermarket! No! You can do it cheaper and prettier. Here are some top gift wrapping ideas:
This blog shows you how to make gift bows out of magazine pages
• Wrapping in fabric, especially for people who like to sew, is a neat idea. You could also wrap in a tea towel, scarf or even a face washer and tie it up with some ribbon.
• If you think wrapping gifts in old newspapers in going to look naff, think again. Look here, here and here.

Finally, what are you eating and drinking this Christmas? If you’re eating meat, is it free range? Look up free range butchers in your area and pre-order your ham. What about the chocolate, is it fair trade? And the wine, organic? Making some smart food-and-drink decisions earlier on will make your Christmas day a lot more ethical.

Christmas decorations (this angel and the snowflake, above) I made from felt a few years ago

There are actually loads of other things you can do to have a more sustainable Christmas, - just think before you buy, cook or throw things out and you will find plenty of opportunities.


  1. What a fab post- really resonates with me. For me, a bit more planning means I don't have to fall back on the lazy & more often urgent route of going out & buying everything. But it's a year on year improvement with making more gifts this year (even for men!) And I'll try to incorporate more ethical wrapping (not promising 100% mind you!)

  2. This post is AWESOME!! I can't wait to look at the links for newspaper wrapping...

    I too, love the 'trimmings' of the holiday season, but I can't stand the consumerism of it and living in Los Angeles, there is a great deal of 'conspicuous consumption' that is just too much to watch. Thank you for this list of alternatives for celebrating!