Your Essential Guide for a Sustainable Christmas

Your Essential Guide for a Sustainable Christmas

As we approach the end of 2019, let’s look forward to a more thoughtful, more sustainable Christmas. It might just help usher in a better new year for more people around the world.

Water, food, trees, and zero waste wrapping paper

With Christmas just a few weeks away, you might be wondering if you’ve got the energy for the festive season.

But if one thing can keep us going, it’s that this year has seen powerful climate action like never before – and that’s crucial for the poorest people of the world who are paying the biggest price for the climate crisis.

We believe everyone can join together to build a greener, more sustainable future for all of us. The people of Garu, a district in northern Ghana, show that it’s possible.

There are typically only two seasons in Garu – the dry season and the rainy season. Climate change has meant that, over the years, the dry seasons have become drier and the rainy seasons have become more unpredictable. It has led to bad harvests and rising hunger – with families sometimes surviving on just one bowl of maize a day.

But now, green, lush fields of crops are growing thanks to new farming techniques, solar-powered water systems, and community-run savings and loans schemes that fund tools, ploughing cattle, and fertilisers.

Woman with child and water

These communities are living inspirations to celebrate Christmas a little differently this year.  Last Christmas, the average Christmas spend by an Irish household rose 3 percent to a staggering estimated €2,690 (1). As an estimated 62 percent of people in Ireland have already started their Christmas shopping (2) – imagine the potentially massive amount of waste that will come from unwanted items, plastic and paper packaging, fast fashion, air travel and more.

With more thought and less waste, small actions like choosing Fairtrade and sustainable food, buying ethically sourced and second-hand gifts or cutting down on waste and making the most of leftovers can all make a big difference, and your local Oxfam shop is a great place to start.

However you do Christmas this year, we hope you’ll celebrate with us. Do it a little differently, and let’s welcome a brighter new year for everyone.

We’ve made a different type of Christmas to-do list to help you get started...

1. The (good) food shop

Fairtrade swaps

Swapping your usual chocolates, teas, coffees and sugar for Fairtrade options is a really easy way to help farmers affected by climate change earn a fair and decent living. Not only that – you can find some amazing luxury Fairtrade treats that make fabulous presents.

Our shops have a whole range of Fairtrade festive food that’ll go down deliciously well with the family.

Sustainable chocolates

Seasons eatings

If you’re a Christmas dinner traditionalist, you’re already on to a climate-friendly winner – because sprouts, parsnips, and carrots are all in season and can be locally grown. So, well done you!

If you dread the usual suspects, have no fear – squash, kale, beetroot and cabbage are all in season for December as well.

Delicious sustainable vegetables

2. Festive Christmas trees

Buying your tree

Overall, real trees are climate-friendly because they do a good job of capturing carbon from the atmosphere while they’re growing.

To make sure yours has been grown sustainably, look out for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label. If you can buy a small pot-grown tree, or one with a root ball, you might even be able to replant it for next year. If you can, buying one locally grown will further reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’ve already got an artificial tree, pack it away carefully after every Christmas to reduce wear and tear – that way, you can reuse it year after year.

Ecofriendly trees

Choosing decorations

Our Sourced by Oxfam range includes some beautiful tree decorations handmade from sustainable materials. Our tree garland, made from recycled sari material by our amazing Fairtrade partners Sasha, can be found in our shops.

Fairtrade Christmas gifts

3. Gift shopping (with a difference)

Secondhand

Secondhand might not be your first thought when it comes to gift giving – but it can turn up some beautiful gift ideas. And if you took part in SecondHand September, it’s a wonderful way to continue both your support and the movement.

Look out for special and first edition hardback books, rare and classic vinyl, pre-loved homeware, and vintage fashion accessories among other items that’ll delight loved ones on Christmas morning.

Brand new

Buying brand new can also help people and planet when you choose gifts from small businesses and artisans who put a huge amount of care into making their product. In our Sourced by Oxfam range, you will find some absolute gems – including gorgeous jewellery made by Lima Lima, who uses recycled or locally sourced materials wherever possible.

Sustainable jewelry

Completely different

If you want to go totally off-grid in your gift giving, why not give your loved ones goats, chickens, or sweet, sweet honey? These are all legitimately great gift ideas that you can find in our amazing range of Unwrapped gifts. Our most carbon-fighting gift No Planet B (£18/€20) will put a huge smile on many faces and help beat global poverty in ways you might not have thought.

In our online shop, your sustainable Christmas can go even further when you purchase the e-card version of any Unwrapped gift. This easy online option won’t increase your carbon footprint at all!

4. Partywear that cares

Every year, people in Ireland spend an incredible amount on new partywear for the festive season and a lot of it gets forgotten as the new year begins. It’s a worrying trend that can lead to tonnes of seasonal fashion ending up in landfill.

Thankfully, you have an earth-friendly alternative near you! Every year in the run-up to Christmas, Oxfam shops go big on second-hand partywear, bringing out their very best festive sparkle to hang on the rails. So find a shop near you and treat yourself to a browse ahead of your Christmas parties.

Secondhand partywear

5. Wrapping the presents (in the best eco-friendly way)

Fabric

Fabric knot wrapping is a gorgeous, zero-waste way to wrap your gifts. Inspired by furoshiki, the Japanese tradition which uses origami-like techniques, knot wrapping can be done with scarves, handkerchiefs, and cuts of fabric. Your local Oxfam shop will have plenty of second-hand options if you need to stock up.

Paper

When it comes to wrapping your gifts with paper, we stock some lovely recycled and craft-based options that are responsibly sourced.

Revive and reuse old paper by finishing with parcel string and sprigs of holly or rosemary, or block printing with patterned wooden stamps for a festive feel.

On the whole, glitter and foil stamped wrapping paper isn’t recyclable – but you can extend its life by reusing any you have to make decorations, envelopes, and more.

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