Tips for an eco-friendly festive season
Bins everywhere, of every colour, are dreading Christmas, when they will be filled to overflowing – taking the brunt of our festive excesses.
It might be early, with Christmas still a few weeks away, but if you’re already in festive season mode, here are some tips for an eco-friendly Yuletide. After all, your bin deserves a holiday too.
Re-usable advent calendars
Let’s be honest, we are mostly in it for the chocolate. So why not buy quality Fairtrade chocolate and invest in a wooden or cloth advent calendar, if you haven't already bought one.
Shops like Action and Trafic stock card, felt and wooden advent calendars that you just fill and re-use each year.
For something hand-crafted try Hobbystand beim Martine for cute, hand-sewn advent calendars, bags and toys for pets.
Use LED lights or candle lit lamps
If you must turn your house into a local homage to the Winter Lights of the city, try LED lights as they use 80% less energy. A candle-lit lamp is popular tradition that is making a comeback, just be sure to snuff them out before you go to bed.
Only switch on your Christmas tree lights when you are actually in the room to enjoy them, and put outside lights on a timer rather than keep them burning all night.
Hire your tree
You can hire your Christmas tree from Bamschoul Becker. If, like me, you are worried you might kill it, just make sure you recycle the cut tree you bought. The commune will collect it from outside your house in January and you’ll get to see your tree again, this time ablaze, for Buergbrennen.
If you already have a fake tree you’ve been using for years – the advice is to keep using it until it has only three twigs left.
Some cards really do need to be sent, together with that family photo and a long letter filled with all your news. But for friends and family you see on a regular basis, consider sending an e-card, with a personal message (you can find charities that provide e-cards where the proceeds support projects in developing countries, click on the drop down menu for Christmas cards).
Stockings or sacks
Admittedly knitted stockings found in shops are probably on the small side, but you can buy beautifully decorated cloth bags to stash the presents in. If you’re a “crafty” type, why not pimp your old pillow cases into Christmas booty bags.
Use fabric ribbon to decorate boxes (which you can store and re-use) and if you must wrap, pick paper wrapping that can be recycled or saved for next year.
Make your own crackers
Cloth table covers and napkins will be better than paper, and if you want Christmas crackers, consider making your own and filling them with silly jokes, handmade gifts or sweets (pinata style). It’s amazing what you can do with a toilet roll, and it can be a family activity to make them.
Buy eco-friendly presents
If you don’t know what to get him or her, why not buy a fizzy water maker. You can purchase ones that come with re-usable plastic or, even better, glass bottles. Just imagine how much plastic bottle recycling it will save over one year.
For recycled and eco-friendly gifts, how about a swimsuit made from 100% recycled plastic. And for something that won't add to the landfill, try an eco yoga mat from Berk, via Letzshop, or a hand sewn breadbag from Littlefoxlinens (also Luxembourg-based), made with oekotex certified linen and organic cotton.
And of course, traditional gifts like bicycles, seed planting kits or toys made from sustainably sourced wood, are all more eco-friendly than plastic toys.
Consider buying second hand. There are so many toys being circulated in Luxembourg we could stage Christmas five times over. You’ll find plenty of people selling toys second-hand on the Facebook pages Kid’s Corner and Buy and Sell in Luxembourg. You can pick up some designer clobber at several second-hand clothes shops in Luxembourg.
Pimp your sides
For those that like meat as the main course for their Christmas dinner, consider buying a smaller, locally-sourced piece and prepare lots of vegetable side dishes. There are countless recipes for vegan and veggie Christmas mains and sides.
To find local meat and veg suppliers (many organic and bio), check this interactive map.
Waste is worse at Christmas, as we try to shop for several meals in one go. Store things in the freezer if there simply isn’t time to use them.
Consider bubble and squeak-style recipes or soups for leftovers and if something is about to go past its use-by date, cook it and freeze it.
You can find great leftover recipes on the Anti-Gaspi website.
Eco-friendly Christmas activities
There’s nothing like a bracing walk during the holidays – ditto for bike rides. Don’t spend every day driving all over the region trying to entertain yourself, when nature is on your doorstep for free.
If you just want to stay in without turning on the TV, 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles can keep families entertained for hours, or how about a game of Uno, Cards Against Humanity, or Charades?
People, not presents, are what make for a merry Yuletide. And if they care about you, they won’t mind if there isn’t lots of shiny wrapping, crackers filled with plastic toys, and a table laden with too much food.
Your bins will be secretly rejoicing too.