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December 10, 2021

Four environmentally conscious ways to celebrate Christmas and safeguard the planet

Christmas is a special time of jubilation. It gives us something to look forward to after the hot summer months, when the weather starts getting colder and wetter. It is undeniable that buying stylish gifts, putting up colourful decorations, and getting into the party vibe all facilitate this transition between seasons. In fact, for many, Christmas is their bright spot in the grim winter period.

Through the haze of parties and good cheer, it is easy to put aside our worries and truly let our hair down. However, recent events presented an urgent issue which we cannot keep ignoring. Our Earth is at grave risk, and we must act without delay to try and save it. So, this year, we can turn our Christmas moments into timely opportunities to go green – and have fun doing it!

Follow Design & Decor's ecological proposals for an environmentally safe Christmas.

1. Go green – and brown and red – with your Christmas decorations.

Single-use plastic is on its way out, and the numerous plastic baubles and tinsel we used to hang on our trees as children are damaging our planet. The best option? Get your decorations from nature itself!

Look around your garden, or go for a stroll in the countryside. Collect a few pine cones, often found strewn around, or use beautiful leaves and flowers to adorn your home. Make Christmas stars and snowflakes out of small twigs. Create your own table accessories and festive wreaths with these natural ingredients from the outdoors. Set your Christmas LED lights on a timer, and enjoy the sparkles while saving energy.

Hold arts and crafts sessions with your children, using sustainable materials. Cover wine corks with brightly coloured paper and cut out scenes from old Christmas cards, to create decorative baubles for the Yuletide tree. Before throwing away your old sweaters, turn them into Christmas stockings or use them as Santa sacks for gifts.

At the end of the festive season, make sure to store all your creations carefully, so they may be reused the following year.

2. Keep it natural with your Christmas tree.

With limited green areas in Malta, the chance of obtaining an actual tree instead of an artificial one is highly unlikely – unless, of course, you have an evergreen growing in your garden. Having said that, there is nothing more Christmassy than cosily gathering indoors around a beautiful tree.

It is true that reusing an artificial tree year after year might appear eco-friendly. However, these trees are often made out of non-recyclable materials and dangerous plastics. Furthermore, they use up vital natural resources for manufacture and shipping. So, make sure to avoid the conventional plastic ones, and try one of these natural options.

If you are feeling creative, make your own Christmas tree out of a wooden pallet. Cut the ends of the planks diagonally and in increasing lengths – to mimic the triangular shape of a tree – and nail them horizontally onto a vertical plank. Use a few strategically placed nails to hang your decorations. Place your creation on a wooden base, or hang on your wall for a unique Christmas tree variation.

If you do not wish to have a flat, 2-dimensional tree, collect some fallen branches or driftwood and use these instead of planks. Alternatively, shop around online for eco-friendly versions of Christmas trees. Better still, be original and decorate one of the sturdy plants already found in your house. It is more cost-efficient, and there is no need to move your furniture around to make space for it.

3. Wrap it up with eco love.

Wrapping gifts in shiny paper and tying them with fancy ribbons goes part and parcel – pun intended – with the Christmas season. Who doesn't love seeing those colourful packages under the tree, whilst itching to tear them open before Christmas morning? Sadly, those glittery papers and flashy bows are not recyclable.

The great news is there are plenty of materials around the house we can use – and reuse – for our gift-wrapping. Old magazines, children's sketches, or comics are a fun alternative to shop-bought wrappers. For a more elegant option, make your own fancy paper by drawing or stencilling plain old brown paper, or opt for 100%-recyclable tissue paper in different colours.

Use biodegradable twine in place of ribbons to keep your wrapping in place. Avoid the use of tape or glue, which will hinder recycling of the paper. Use the twine to secure pinecones, twig decorations, or dried leaves to your parcel.

Repurpose good quality cloth or rummage through your old scarves, to be used as a wrapping alternative. Cover the boxes your online order arrived in with colourful paper, and place your larger gifts in them. All these options will make your presents stand out under the tree.

4. Lavish with gifts that keep on giving – to the world.

It is easy to get stuck when trying to come up with original gift ideas for every member of the family. Adding an eco-friendly touch might leave you feeling even more befuddled. But fear not, we are here to help.

If you really wish to safeguard the environment, do not buy material gifts, but instead present your loved ones with memorable experiences such as a weekend break in an eco hotel or a wellness day at a spa. Visit your local charity shop and browse for pre-loved items you can give as a sustainable alternative. Buy a plant as a gift for that special someone, for a greener home option that lasts.

Support local businesses while simultaneously avoiding the harmful effects of overseas shipping. Opt for sustainable brands and companies which upcycle and recreate beautiful vintage items. Look around in local eco shops for the many zero waste kits and hampers available, with a variety of eco-friendly products to choose from.

Be original, give personalised gifts – and inspire others to follow suit.

Whatever you decide to opt for this Christmas, make sure to include at least one eco-friendly measure. Every little step we take towards zero waste creates a ripple effect all around the world. Even if it is just cooking less food for Christmas lunch, or sourcing your ingredients locally, you can rest assured it will be the best gift you can ever give to our Earth.

Let us know what ecological measures you are adopting this Christmas to protect our planet.

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