A Low Waste & Minimal 'Christmas'

So what does a minimalist and a person who would like to minimize their waste do around the year where people literally go crazy with spending, spending, spending and giving, giving, giving? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about giving, in fact the thought about giving joy to others is beautiful - but when it turns into nothing other than consumption, money and greed  it loses that one thing it should be about; heart.

The time of year that is all about joy has been turned into nothing but stress. 'Christmas is so stressful' is something I hear every single year, multiple times but Christmas in itself is not stressful. What we feel like we 'have to do' around Christmas is what is stressful and let's not forget the fact that stress is a choice. What should be joy turns into necessity.

Question your actions instead of just 'doing what you have to'. Actually ask yourself and the ones around you what you and they appreciate about this times of year, what you want to do and more importantly what you don't want to do. Because it is possible to take a step back, observe and take everything that is stressful out of it. Wrap yourself out of the thought that there is something you have to do and wrap yourself out of the things you do with  no joy. If something is stressful it is not joy.

Christmas is so wasteful. I am not saying that Christmas itself is wasteful but what we do around the holiday is. All the paper, all the plastic decorations, all the 'because I had to' gifts to people you don't really care that much about, all the food and everything else around it. Wasteful. And when we talk about the food; incredibly cruel.

Wasteful Christmas:
  • around 50,000 trees are used every year for wrapping paper 
  • every year 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away 
  • every year after Christmas over 250 tons of Christmas trees are thrown away
  • around 7 million tons of foods are thrown away each year

Make 'Christmas' your own
I am not Christian but I have been celebrating this holiday all my life so it is hard just stopping something that is so sentimental from one year to another. I do not love Christmas, I love the time I spend with my family and all the weird 'traditions' we, as a family, have made around the holiday - I love that we have made it our own. As a family, we have asked ourselves what we want to participate in and what does not align with our values and that has been combined to a time spend together with no stress, no greed, no consumption and nothing 'just because'. Choose what fits instead of forcing template that aches.

Mindful gift giving:
Over the years we have decreased the amount of money we spend on Christmas gifts a lot because it is simply not necessary to spend that much money on gifts because they should not be the main focus of this time of year. Be more mindful with the gift giving. I know incredibly many people, myself included, who has no idea what they should put on their Christmas list so in desperation they just throw something on there to at least have something. Is there something you need? Is there something you have been thinking a lot about getting?

Put items on your wish list that are low waste friendly, ethically made and sustainable. If you want to make it easier and avoid just putting something on your list for the sake of it then during the year, make a list of the things you find yourself needing. If you cannot find an alternative with the things you have and it is something that keeps popping up then go ahead and purchase it or write it on your wish list. This will make sure that once you send out your list there will only be items that are needed and not a desperate attempt to fill your list. Ask yourself if it adds value to your life?

When it comes to gifting you have to ask yourself if you are comfortable with purchasing and giving items that may not match your ethical values. From a loved one, there may well be something on the list that is neither ethical nor sustainable and it is up to you whether or not you want to purchase it or not. If I am honest I don't see myself gifting items from companies that are wasteful, unethical and overall polluting the earth. Instead, I would find an alternative that aligns with my values or giving something that may not be on their list.

What if you or someone you love simply do not wish anything?
If you find yourself in the situation where you cannot find something that will add value to your life or maybe a loved one doesn't know what to wish then there are alternatives; you could gift them something from the low waste gift ideas from above or:
  • Gift cards to a place selling sustainable products so that next time they, let's say, need a toothbrush they can get one made from bamboo and ditch the plastic. Or maybe to a place selling organic and ethical clothing?
  • Bake some cookies, place then in a glass jar and gift it to them - who doesn't love baked goods? You can also make a basket with the ingredients so they can make them themselves.
  • Send the money to charity. One year my brother listed charities we could donate the money that would be spend on gifts for him. How cool is that? Talk about giving.
  • Buy them an experience: to the movies, out to eat, invite them over for dinner and spend the money on the food items you need or to a massage

I do not want to get into the incredible waste of wrapping paper because you can read it in the post but I will say that we throw away around 4 million pounds of wrapping paper. That is enough paper to cover over 5000 football fields. That is crazy. Luckily there are alternatives preventing you from creating waste and destroying the planet - doesn't that sound nice? To the preventing alternatives not to destroy the planet, haha.

To be honest I do not really give a lot of freaks about decorating for Christmas but if you would like to do something different in your decor around this time of year then there are definitely ways to do that. If you are not into hanging dried fruits then you can purchase Christmas decoration at the thrift store - please do not buy them new, there is so much already and the thrift store has a lot! The goal is to of course reduce but reuse as much as you can.

Thank you so much for reading. Merry Christmas!