By Ivona Tomljanovic
Lately the message I’ve been hearing from different bigger companies is something along the lines of that the point of Christmas is simply food and presents.
And no, the messages aren’t about being charitable and buying or making food for those who don’t have it. Nor about eating less or more consciously because we tend to eat pretty poorly the rest of the year …
No—silly me. We’re told to shop like crazy, spend money more than ever before, and give presents because we can’t provide our time to those we love. I get it. We are visual creatures in love with shiny, colourful things underneath our plastic Christmas trees. And we tend to love and enjoy food in as big of portions as we can have it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against presents or eating well and good food, and all the joy that that brings. I’ll be honest: I love it, too.
But, in light of the stressed state or our planet, how can we celebrate more sustainably this year? Even though we can’t properly connect this year, most of us are still celebrating Christmas. We’re still buying holiday food, decorating our homes and buying gifts. This is the best year to start thinking about more sustainable ways of celebrating Christmas and other holidays.
So here are three simple tips for a greener Christmas that could have a big impact:
TIP FOR A GREEN CHRISTMAS #1: GO FOR VEGETARIAN CHRISTMAS MEALS
Choose more vegetarian dishes, as much fewer resources are required to produce plants in comparison to animals. For almost every traditional dish, you can find a vegetarian alternative. In Croatia, where I’m from, we love eating cabbage rolls (‘Sarma’, as they’re called in Croatian) on holidays, and they’re usually filled with meat. I make them with buckwheat, soy and a lot of spices. There are so many recipes today on the internet, but there is also space to be creative, explore and make our own magical dishes. Because food really is magic! And if we fuel ourselves with organic, healthy, and carefully chosen ingredients, our bodies will be thankful.
Where can you find these ingredients? You can start with farmers’ markets, where you can buy from locals and without unnecessary packaging. Many shops also sell a range of products, from different spreads and oils in beautifully decorated glass jars, to handmade cookies, beverages, and pretty much anything your heart desires.
TIP FOR A GREEN CHRISTMAS #2: DECORATE GREEN
I assume that a lot of us already have a huge amount of shiny things that we’ve accumulated in years prior. Consider using what you already have and add your own touch when decorating. Opt for decorations that you can continue to use year after year and not throw away.
Perhaps you’re away from home this year because of the pandemic or you just started living in a new place. For your Christmas decorations, you can find inspiration in nature: pinecones, branches, cinnamon sticks, berries, dried fruits and more. The options are limitless. Use your creativity to repurpose something for your new decorations. My mum has a lot of decorations, so I borrowed a tablecloth from her, and I’m using my lucky bamboo plant as a Christmas tree. It looks adorable. You can repurpose your houseplants as well or make your own tree from branches gathered from a walk in the woods. Wooden Pallet trees also look great. If you’re still dying for the smell of a real tree, consider getting a potted tree that you can later plant in your garden. If we still continue to buy plastic trees, along with plastic decorations, this season will remain the season of huge environmental impact.
TIP FOR A GREEN CHRISTMAS #3: RETHINK GIFT GIVING
2020 has been a tough year for many. Many lost their jobs in a shrinking job market. Kind words, smiles, love, help, time, and sharing your wisdom are all “things” that don’t cost you anything, but can mean everything. These are things that don’t create waste either and are sustainable in every way 😊.
Can we give a little more love this Christmas? To others and ourselves? Holidays are about people, and people can’t properly connect this year! We also need to connect with ourselves first. Learn to listen to your true needs and be at peace with whatever you have now. Being at peace will help us stop this cycle of consumerism, of buying things that we don’t necessarily need, which is at the centre of our holiday celebrations today.
If we want a healthier planet, and more holidays to come in the future, we need to start making more conscious everyday decisions. Of course, this can be fun too: research alternatives and greener ways of doing things, explore, DIY, be playful, and enjoy this joyous and festive time of the year.
About the author, Ivona Tomljanovic
Ivona finds her passion in yoga philosophy. She believes that with consistent practices like yoga, meditation and mindful living we can be so much happier on this planet. A chemical engineer by profession, she strives to live sustainably and minimalistically and is also a vegetarian. She hopes to one day work for a company that prioritizes sustainable products and environmental protection.