10 sustainable Christmas gifts and ideas from Hampshire
PUBLISHED: 14:23 02 December 2020 | UPDATED: 14:23 02 December 2020
From eco-friendly wrapping paper to socks made from recycled materials – ‘give green’ this December
Over 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. And what’s worse, is that around 5% will be thrown away – not even re-gifted, sold or given to charity. “With such horrific statistics around Christmas waste, it’s essential to look at our traditions,” says Kate from zero waste shop, Fleet Scoop, “It is not OK to excuse it simply because excess is seen as synonymous with the season. “We don’t tend to get extra stock for Christmas, because the whole point is to reduce consumerism. However, we have got some new Lanka Kade wooden toys made from rubber trees, once they’re no longer useful to tap for rubber (normally about 40 years old), and made by a company attempting to help Sri Lankans with a better life. Other great stocking fillers include funky-designed bamboo socks, for all ages, and local lip balms in aluminium tins.”
It’s a wrap
Us Brits will get through 108 million rolls of wrapping paper during the festive season – that’s enough to go around the world 22 times! Its accomplice doesn’t get off lightly either, with 40 million rolls of plastic sticky tape being used and, quite probably, tangled around fingers. Tearing open a Christmas present with reckless abandon is all part of the festive magic, just ditch rolls containing non-recyclable elements like foil and glitter and opt for recycled wrap instead. “Our recycled and recyclable gift wrap in a variety of colours and our Christmas washi tapes and starry paper tape can help with wrapping. We also stock jute and hessian reusable gift bags and bottle bags,” says Kate from Fleet Scoop.
Yes, you read that right. This wonderful Icelandic tradition, otherwise known as ‘The Christmas Book Flood’ involves the whole Nordic island exchanging books as Christmas Eve presents and spending the rest of the night curled up under a warm blanket devouring said book and a mug of hot chocolate. What’s not to love? This festive tradition is thought to have begun towards the end of the second world war, when paper was one of the few things not rationed. Now, despite only having a population of around 339,000, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. And once you’ve finished your book, you can always swap it! Shop local at Laurence Oxley Ltd , The Hambledon and P&G Wells
Christmas wishes to wildflowers
Christmas cards have fallen out of favour over the past decade, with a quarter of us no longer writing them. But if you’re keen to send a little Christmas cheer to long-lost friends and rellies, make sure you look for cards with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark. The Woodland Trust shop is a great place to pick up plastic-free cards and the proceeds help to support Britain’s woodlands. Plantable cards are also becoming more and more popular. Local Hampshire artist, Charlie Collis Design, specialises in plastic-free plantable seed cards. These charming cards are imbedded with marigold, larkspur and cornflower seeds and once each card has been used and its message received, the recipient can plant and grow their very own wildflower garden.
We’ve become a nation obsessed with Amazon Prime’s instant delivery. We know what we want and we want (and expect) it NOW. To meet this demand for online shopping, Amazon is taking on 7,000 permanent staff in the UK and 20,000 seasonal workers to deal with the Christmas onslaught. But where does this leave the local independent stores, artists, designers and crafters? Supporting your local businesses, especially after the highs and lows of this past year, is a fantastic way to ensure your gift purchasing supports the local economy, uses local material and has a minimal footprint. Plus, it’s the best way to find amazing, bespoke and handmade presents. It’s a well-known fact that independent sellers do a little celebratory dance every time someone buys something from them – you certainly don’t get a happy dance from the big conglomerates.
Help someone else
New research carried out with Heriot Watt University, estimates 846,000 parcels will need to be provided by the Trussel Trust to people in crisis during the final months of 2020 – a 61% increase on last year! Soberingly, an additional 670,000 people will be destitute by the end of the year, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy, and food. Food banks rely on goodwill and support, and over 90% of the food distributed by food banks is donated by the public. There are collection points in supermarkets across the country, or you can even host a collection at your local school, church or business.
Give an experience
Forget buying stuff. Why not treat someone to a little something to look forward to once all the Christmas madness has subsided. Lots of local restaurants offer vouchers for a slap-up meal or afternoon tea. Vouchers for The Ivy in Winchester or The Pig in the Forest guarantee festive cheer. If you’re looking for a thoughtful and unique present, check out Core Art Journaling (socially distanced) workshop vouchers. “This is a soulful fun environment where you don’t have to be a great artist but can enjoy letting go and exploring easy, fun, creative techniques,” says founder Deborah Porter, “Our passion is about up-cycling books and creating new stories in old books and using antique collected collage papers of up to 40 years old!” If you want a gift that keeps on giving, consider purchasing a subscription. Caffeine fiends will cherish the gift of regular coffee supplies delivered straight through the letter box from Moonroast in the Candovers. While kids (and grown-ups) will love an annual pass for the newly-refurbished Winchester Science Centre
Deck the halls
It’s time to leave tinsel firmly in the 80s. For a more natural noel, you can find all the materials you need out in the wilderness: pine cones, holly sprigs and plenty of foliage. Alternatively, find a local florist to work their magic for you. Stephanie Dunn, Floral Stylist from Rabbit and the Rose in Basingstoke creates beautiful bouquets, centrepieces and wreaths. As well as getting stock from her London-based wholesaler, who source floral supplies through British growers, the Dutch market and beyond, she also tries to use local suppliers, “Where possible I use Bramshill Flowers and Headley Flower Garden. As we go into Autumn there’s less fresh flowers locally grown but lots of lovely greenery. I also forage when and where possible and I’m slowly building up small amounts of home-grown flowers and foliage to add a bit of extra ‘magic’ to my arrangements,” says Steph. “I avoid using plastic if I can, so my Christmas displays, especially wreaths, are normally moss or willow based, or have a straw base, so they’re fully biodegradable.”
Ease your eco-conscience with a locally-grown or produced festive tipple. There are some fantastic Hampshire vineyards to choose from and if you’re looking for an organic option - Laverstoke Park’s vintage sparkling wines are grown on nine hectares of bio-dynamic land. Both Red Cat Brewing and Stratton Lane Brewery offer great local beer and the latter even serves up mini kegs or casks. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, our little county has some epic gin producers – from the award-winning Mary Rose Gin from the HMS Spirit Company; to The River Test Distillery – who were awarded the highest accolade of ‘Best London Dry Gin in England’ at The World Gin Awards 2020. Cheers to that!
Oh Christmas tree…
According to the Carbon Trust, plastic trees need a minimum of 10 Christmases to be less environmentally harmful than real ones. Real trees may be much more sustainable, but make sure you look out for the ‘Grown in Britain’ or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ‘seal of approval’. Come January, a shocking seven million trees will be dumped, rather than recycled! Recycle your tree through your local council’s recycling scheme – or if it was potted with its roots intact, you can chance your hand and replant it in your garden until next year.