With Christmas swiftly coming, as usual, I thought I’d talk to you about my family’s present buying habits now that I am an adult. Christmas isn’t the same when you either aren’t a child or don’t have a child to celebrate with, it’s almost like any other day except we all exchange some gifts. Christmas can be extremely wasteful and I’m sure I’m not the only person who used to constantly get useless tat made of cheap plastic. So, this is what we do now.
- Buying Useful Presents: For the most part, my family don’t ever ‘want’ anything most of the time, but we all need certain things. For example, my Gran likes taking lutingold supplements for her eyes from Holland & Barrett. Supplements and vitamins can be pretty expensive, but Holland & Barrett often do sales where you basically get a pot for free. Last year, my mum bought my Gran almost a year’s worth of these and that’s the plan again this time around! I’ve also added this to my list as I always take a multi-vitamin to keep on top of my Crohn’s and occasionally other vitamins too.
- Buying Second Hand: My family often want certain clothing items, either for events or due to the time of year or maybe we had the item but wore it out. My mum and I picked up some pieces for my Granddad at a big second hand sale where you can fill a bag for £3! We got him a nice shirt, a jumper, and a sleeveless pullover along with a bunch of other stuff for myself. His bits probably didn’t even equal £1 but they were great condition. We also picked up a pair of jeans for him in another £3 a bag sale, and I found a great tacky t-shirt for my best friend Meghann.
- Buying an Experience: My mother and I often struggle with asking for specific items to unwrap for birthdays and Christmas and would rather go see a show or go on holiday. My mum took me to Milan for a long weekend for my birthday this year, and my family are planning on buying some decent tickets to see the show Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Saunders as a kind of combo christmas and birthday present (her birthday is 25th November) because they’ll probably be somewhat expensive but worth going to. Or, for a cheaper option, we will designate a day out together either to go do something or just for a meal and a wander.
- Going for a Meal with the Extended family: For parts of the family you don’t see very often, it’s a nice idea to go for a meal or do something altogether so you can catch up and spend some quality time rather than buying something and continuing not being able to see them. This also work for friends as well, whether they’re just busy working or live a little further away. I plan on doing a little last minute Christmas shopping with Meghann as I’ve not been able to see her in person since my birthday because of my health and also her busy schedule!
- Making something: You don’t have to be a supreme artiste to make something for family. I found a great little tutorial that turned an old t-shirt into a dog toy! Great for your dog and also for your friends who have dogs! There are also tonnes of things you could make by hand with a little help from a YouTube tutorial, but try to make sure it’s something they would want or use to try and avoid more stuff cluttering houses or ending up in landfill.
This was a short, probably incomplete, list of what my family are doing this year for Christmas! I hope this helps anyone and gives other ideas for alternatives or a new perspective on what we should be buying for Christmas. Sometimes the best presents are useful ones!
Back at it again with another one of these posts! I had some remaining points in my original documents about clothes recycling but I also uncovered a very, very old video outline involving creative ways to be better to the environment! So, here we all go!
- Old and damaged DVDs or CDs are actually really useful for turning into a DIY mobile to hang around vegetable gardens. They’re great at attracting bigger birds that will scare smaller birds away, leaving more critters in your soil to keep your veggies healthy!
- Linked to above, any discs you no longer use then means you have a box free. I think they’re recyclable, but you can also use them as back ups in case you break another box, or you’re feeling retro and are burning things onto discs and need something to keep it in.
- If you’re an avid gardener, reusing plant pots in a must. You also need to try and cover the holes in the bottom with something that will still let the water out… how about a little bit of cardboard or paper you were throwing out anyway? This also makes it easier to plant into the ground when they’re ready.
- I don’t see too many people doing this anymore, but instead of buying wrapping paper (which can often not be eco-friendly) use newspapers or magazines as makeshift wrapping paper for presents. You can customize it further with your own drawings! Last Christmas, we got rid of wrapping paper entirely and just used pillow cases! We all have pillow cases we can use!
- If you have any fruit trees and live near a wooded area, any of the old and half eaten fruit would be good to gather and throw out into the trees. You’ll feed the animals too shy to come out, save yourself from gross rotting fruit that also attracts wasps, and possibly help fertilize or grow some new trees. (we all know we could do with some more trees about…)
- This one is for people with plants: drinking water is super important for people in general, but if you or any guests don’t finish their glass or bottle (tsk tsk) use that to water your plants. Helps save a little on your water bill. If it’s easier, collect it in a watering can first and water all your plants in one go. If you have outdoor space, maybe see if you can get a rain collector, perfect for watering plants.
- I know bottles are hugely controversial, but I’m aware many people still buy plastic bottles. Water or fizzy drinks, if you do buy some and like to grow your own plants (or are dreamily thinking about starting) I’ve heard they’re good to use for growing plants outside. They can be like mini-greenhouses keeping the warmth and moisture in, but also great for fending off little buggers like squirrels, they’ve murdered many of my oak tree saplings in the past.
- any really old ratty clothes, reuse into cleaning cloths or take to local clothes recycling bin. Some people also used them as make-up removal cloths too, this is something i have been thinking of doing.
- You can also turn ratty clothing items into dog toys! Perfect for Christmas or Birthday presents for pets, I’m sure you can adapt them into something suitable for cats too.
- give on or sell on good quality clothes you no longer wear or want, I use Depop, Vinted and Facebook Marketplace. More tips on this, check out my blog post here.
- customise clothes you no longer love, make it into something you will wear again
- ‘vegan’ shoes aren’t as great as they are marketed to be. Mainstream vegan shoes are purely just plastic. If you really feel you cannot wear animal products as clothing, look into a more natural vegan clothing/shoe brand because animal product clothing is actually better for the environment over all. Just depends on which side you stand on with this issue. (vegan leather, polyester, faux fur are all plastic) leather boots will also last years if you take care of them, whereas plastic boots will last maybe a year.
- Take things you don’t want to the charity shop (check where the money goes and the charity’s beliefs before donating, like I personally wouldn’t donate to a charity that has been vocally anti-LGBT like the Salvation army) or to some kind of local jumble sale to raise money for your area. You can do the same with non-clothing items as charity shops and jumbles have many items up for sale.
- You can also look for specific charities to donate your items to. I’ve been donating a lot of clothes and spare hygiene products to a local homelessness charity. I’ve also read there are a few charities that you can donate things like make-up to for victims of domestic violence or to women’s shelters. It’s mostly shopping around to see what cause you’d like to help with your spare things. A lot of them will also let you know what they are in need of if you’re not too sure. If you’re looking to fundraise, lots of charities accept printer ink cartridges or used stamps!
Besides all this, if you have some money you’re looking to donate or invest into something that will help the environment maybe have a look into kickstarters by people inventing really cool self-sufficient technology to help clean up our planet. Or even write a letter to your local MP about wanting them to make more of a difference and list some suggestions. Even organising a group of people to go litter picking can be helpful.
Anyway, that’s is from me. I’ll continue to post these and I’ll eventually get to a more detailed one on how we can put the pressure on our government and big corporations to start making a change.
Check out part one to this post here.
Check out these organisations for all things ethical clothing!
The Better Cotton Initiative
Labour Behind The Label
The Clean Clothes Campaign
Black on Black
Climate in Colour