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Don’t let Christmas cost the earth

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Annabel Laughton, Posted: Thursday, 24th November 2016, 08:00

Whatever meaning Christmas has for each of us, there’s one element we all share – presents. But the shops filling up from late October makes me pause to think of the environmental impact of all those plastic toys and reindeer jumpers, each of which has taken energy and resources to make, package and transport, and many of which will hardly be used before they are thrown out. So, can we show our appreciation and love for friends and family at Christmas without costing the earth quite so much? Well, with a little thought and planning, we can.

Will they still be using the gift in mid-January?
Rule number one – if you’re buying someone a physical object, make sure it’s a gift they’ll like and something of good quality that will last. When deciding, try the January test – will they still be using this in the middle of January? This rules out many joke presents, which are usually a no-no in environmental terms.

Unless you know the person really well, it can be tricky to find something that’s right for them, so ask in advance. It might not be a total surprise, but you know they’ll enjoy and use your gift. Failing that, give them the receipt so they can return it – make sure you buy from a shop that has a store near them, though. I don’t really like gift receipts, as they usually mean an exchange only, whereas they may prefer something from a different shop.

Gift pre-loved items
Buying gifts second hand can also work really well. I’ve been given second hand books many times and, as long as they’re in good condition, I prefer knowing I’m reusing something pre-loved. Alternatively, buy someone an experience – they have been shown to make us happier than objects in the long run, and can be so thoughtful.

Homemade items are very well-received
How about a massage, wine tasting evening or membership of a charity? You could also make your own presents. Who wouldn’t be happy with a big jar of homemade chocolate biscuits, chutney, or a box of truffles? One year I made truffles rolled in cocoa and edible gold-dust, which were very easy and very well-received!

Consider a ‘no unnecessary present pact’
Finally, think about who you actually want to give presents to. Sometimes we feel an obligation to get a present for a particular person, but they could be feeling the same, meaning both parties could end up spending money on something the other person doesn’t even like! In these situations, you can consider a ‘no unnecessary present pact’ – use Money Saving Expert’s template to email family and friends suggesting this. Or how about pooling your resources for a meal or a family day out instead of individual presents?

Everyone loves to feel included and considered at this time of year, and with a little care we can come up with personal ways to show our gratitude to our friends, and to lessen our impact on the planet at Christmas.

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