Recently, Sustainable Water Use Birmingham have put out some posts about having a sustainable festive season and I thought that I would pull all these together in a short blog post for you. However, the credit really needs to go to Sophie, SWUB’s lead researcher and caption creator as I am just collating all the information she has found and communicated so well into one place.
When it comes to festive fashion the key piece of advice is: the most sustainable items are the ones you already own.
Love the clothes you already own, wear them time and time again and if you want something new shop secondhand or swap with a friend.
There are some ways that you can make your clothes last a lifetime by caring for them correctly. For example, denim and wool don’t need to be washed as frequently as you think as they are natural fibres, meaning they self clean.
If your denim items need a freshen up try putting them in the freezer - this may sound unusual but it works a treat!
The small action of washing your clothes less can have a big impact:
It will extend their life (less risk of shrinking and bobbling);
Save water as the average washing machine uses around 50L of water with each wash;
Save you money on your utility bills!
Wearing clothes made from natural materials has additional benefits too. When washed all clothes release microfibers, however synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and acrylic release microplastics which we all know are the oceans enemy! The same goes for sequins and glittery items so where possible try to avoid them even though they are a popular choice at this time of year.
Shop locally and support small businesses. This year, this is more important than ever as small businesses have been hit the hardest during the pandemic. Head to our Instagram page (@SWUBham) to see our sustainable, small and local suggestions - there is a post and also a highlights reel dedicated to this. Etsy is a great place to start for looking at a wide range of independent sellers.
Before you buy a gift check with your friend and relative what they would like so you only buy what someone needs and really loves. This will avoid the holiday being a period of overconsumption but being mindful of what you buy and use makes us all appreciate this time more.
Then you need to wrap the gift that you know the recipient will love. We suggest using classic brown paper that can be recycled instead of glittery or metallic patterned paper. A video I saw on a BBC Facebook video said: if you can scrunch it up and it stays scrunched up, it can be recycled. Alternatively use a gift bag and don’t use tape so that it can easily be reused again next year or why not wrap someone’s gift in a wax wrap as they are a gift in themselves that can be reused by the recipient!
Food, food and more food
It is predicted that at Christmas, 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies are wasted.
To avoid unnecessary food waste, plan what you are going to eat ahead of time and write a list of what you will need before you go shopping. Even better, head to your local zero waste or refill store so that all your goods come with recyclable or reusable packaging.
With plans changing you may already have excess food - make use of the Olio app where you can list items of surplus food for someone local to collect from you. This reduces food waste and is a great way to help your local community and neighbours.
A Christmas unwind
SWUB advocates for showers over baths to save water but we do know that winter baths are one of life's little pleasures. However it is important to be mindful of your tub as the average bath uses 80 litres! According to WaterWise, by filling up your bath 1 inch less you could save 5 litres of water.
Additionally, opt for shampoo, conditioner and soap bars from zero waste stores, Lush or search a small business on Etsy for plastic free alternatives. These items are also great gift ideas! Finally, using sustainable razors also helps reduce plastic - Estrid razors are a vegan and plastic free razor subscription service. So, ditch disposable razors by tailoring the subscription service to receive new razor heads as frequent as you like!
Thank you for reading this article and if you have any other sustainable tips for the festive season, let us know as we love learning how we can do better!