At this annual time of “faith, hope and gluttony”, it behoves us here at Gower Power – bastion of sustainability, circular economies and environmental protection – to start by reflecting on how things can get out of hand:
- As a nation, the UK wastes 30% more food than usual over the Christmas period. The equivalent of 4.2 million Christmas dinners gets chucked, including over 17 million sprouts which, if appropriately processed, could power a home for no less than three years.
- In 2018 the amount of wrapping paper we threw away could have reached the moon.
- We use up about 175 tonnes of aluminium just for mince pies.
- Thanks to advent calendars, selection boxes, toys, toiletries, food etc, an estimated 250, 000 tonnes of plastic packaging enters our homes over the Christmas period.
- And after all the festivity is over, we have collectively managed to spend around £700 million on presents that aren’t even wanted.
Christmas-related plastic isn’t confined to packaging: clothing and gifts from cuddly toys to dressing gowns are full of acrylic and polyester. A third of adults buy a new Christmas jumper every year, and, according to environmental charity Hubbub, only 1/3 of those doing so realise they contain plastic. More info on the problems with plastic, particularly in clothing, is available; we won’t dwell on it here. We’re going to cheer up.
In recent years the number of retailers responding to environmental concerns has expanded hugely, as has the number of micro-businesses specialising in eco-friendly products and sustainable practices. Plus, the faithful old environmental charities have great gifts on offer.
Christmas Bee Saver Kits are available from Friends of the Earth.
Plantlife has beautiful gifts including tea towels, fancy toiletries and craft gin, as well as opportunities to adopt a tree, a flower or even a whole nature reserve.
Earth Wardrobe offers “Fair Wear” certified clothing from sustainable materials, shipped in non-plastic packaging by UK workers paid at least the Living Wage. These simple, single-colour items are perfect for customising, and an organic cotton sweatshirt (£25) comes with a free t-shirt too!
Of course, buying local is equally important at this time of year as any other, and we are delighted to see the range of entrepreneurs and artisans offering their wares at local markets and online:
Etsy is brimming with gifts produced by small-scale makers: put “Welsh Products” in the search bar and be fairly sure of finding businesses based in Wales. Many of these know that sustainability is an issue for their customers, and offer reassurances about their choices of materials and packaging.
Uplands Market, Marina Market, Mumbles Market and more are still appearing in the pre-Christmas weeks, showcasing producers from around the South-West Wales region.
SouthWalesFoodAndDrink.com is a point of online sales for food and drink producers in our region. Great for your Christmas Dinner veggies, a cheese gift hamper, seasonal spirits, and more.
So for a Conscious Christmas 2021, we urge you to shop wisely: keep a look out for pop-up shops and Makers’ Markets, support local traders and those that protect the environment and above all … have a wonderful time!