This Vegan loves Christmas! It brings back some wonderful memories and that happy, excited, magical “Christmas feeling”.
Lately, evening walks with Bella, (my rescue dog daughter who I talk about in other blogs), have made me very nostalgic.
My neighbourhood always takes Christmas very seriously and go all out with their decorations. It is just so beautiful. The joyous sparkle of the colourful lights and familiar imagery somehow makes you feel safe.
Why Christmas is so important in 2020
This year Christmas is even more important for most people. Lets face it, this has been a very difficult year. We have all been apart from friends and family, we have been scared and confused, some of us have lost loved ones. We really need to forget all the awfulness for a bit, we need something to get excited about and look forward to, and we have collectively chosen Christmas!
Decorations have flown off the shelves, at my local hardware warehouse. They could not keep up with the demand! People were positively rabid! No expense was spared and everything sold. They completely sold out of outdoor, lit up silhouette deer in November!
As excited as I have been about Christmas, I started to think about the ethics of the decorations. I know, total buzzkill.. but it needs to be considered.
The Ghost of Christmas Waste
I was very aware that the cheaply made, plastic decorations they were selling at such a huge volume would likely end up in the bin come January, and made the decision not to buy any of it.
Of course, that train of thought had me thinking about how many novelty gifts would be bought that would never be used. The carbon footprint of flying them around the globe, the bubble wrap, wrapping paper, bows and cards that would end up in landfills and the ocean.
Not to mention all the disposable cups, plates and cutlery at big Christmas parties. The millions of plastic straws! The waste we create over the festive season is staggering, 30% more than we usually spew out onto our beautiful but suffering planet.
Every year I agonise over the ten million turkeys who will be hurriedly killed in the UK alone. Welfare be damned as we can celebrate “peace on earth”. But this is the first year I have really taken the time to consider the long-term effects of this wasteful festival, and how it will affect future generations.
I was watching excited families buying their cut Christmas trees and while their joy was wonderful to see, it was difficult to look past all the plastic waste used to sell a biodegradable product.
The trees arrived wrapped in a nasty fine plastic mesh. This is then cut off so the trees are displayed. Once chosen, they are wrapped again.
It’s the stuff of nightmares for wildlife and there were MASSES of it everywhere. I got my leg tangled in some of it and had a job freeing myself. If that stuff ever found its way into the ocean it would have devastating consequences. (Lets face it, allot of it is going to find its way into the ocean).
All this unnecessary waste from Christmas 2020 will be around to haunt us for hundreds of years to come!
Should we cancel Christmas?
Ok it’s beginning to sound like I am more Team Bah Humbug than I am Team Christmas! That’s just not the case! However, we do need to remember that our choices often reach far beyond us, so we should always be mindful of the consequences.
When I was a kid my Mom used to buy a tree in a pot to use as a Christmas tree and we would decorate that. After Christmas she would plant it, how wonderful if everyone did that. (Well done Mom!)
Christmas is meant to be a time for caring and if we took the message and actually ran with it, what a fantastic festival it would be!
What can you do?
As long as businesses make a profit from cheap, disposable, planet destroying trinkets, without having to accept any consequence, they will keep selling them. Saving the planet lies firmly in the hands of the consumer. In OUR hands.
Buy second hand where possible, you would be surprised what people throw away. According to a survey from 2017, 14% of people said they would be throwing away their artificial tree rather than reusing it.
Charity shops are a great place to find decorations and stocking fillers. (You may want to research the charity to ensure they don’t fund animal testing if you are an ethical Vegan. It’s also worth finding out what their policy is on selling real fur).
Support local businesses rather than buy online, if you can. I know it can be cheaper and more convenient to buy online, but supporting local business is thoughtful, better for the environment and makes their Christmas better too!
There are a number of ethical businesses out there, selling sustainable and planet friendly Christmas decorations and gifts. I know I’d much rather give them my money than those who only care about profit.
Make sure you recycle as much of your waste as possible. With so much going on over Christmas, especially if you have kids, just bunging everything into a black bag is easier. Take a breath and a few minutes, and separate out the recycling while giving yourself a well deserved pat on the back!
I know it is tempting to have a massive blow out, but don’t be wasteful. You can let your hair down without having to throw away loads of food. Approximately 270,000 tons of food is wasted over Christmas in the UK, there is nothing caring about that.
I didn’t want this article to turn into a lecture so I hope it hasn’t come across that way. I just wanted to point out a few things that you may not have noticed about the holiday. How we can be a little kinder to our planet and each other, while also having fun.
So enjoy all the delightful things this festival has to offer. The decorations, the carols, the time with loved ones. The mulled wine, the MINCE PIES! Just do it kindly.
I hope you all have a wonderful, ethical Christmas!