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How to have an eco-friendly Christmas

'Tis the season to banish waste, tat, all things un-recyclable and go sustainable. Does anyone know where you can buy halos?

It feels like there’s been a big cultural shift  this year where Christmas prep is concerned – family, friends and Muddy readers are all talking about how to plan and shop more mindfully this festive period. Think less of those last-minute panic buys from Amazon and more considered purchases from cool, local indie shops – and ideally these goodies should be ethically sound and created locally too. We’re not just talking gifts here – it’s all the trimmings, from wrapping paper to festive fromage.

Here’s how you can have a more eco-friendly Christmas and polish your halo while you’re at it (just be careful no one mistakes you for an angel and plonks you atop the tree).


Wrappers’ delight

Hands up who else is desperately seeking wrapping paper that’s not splattered with un-recyclable, microplastic-y glitter? Change is definitely afoot – M&S have removed the sparkly menace from its entire Christmas range, including paper, this year. I think we’ll see a return to rustic wrapping – good ol’ brown paper and twine. Muddy Award-winning gift shop Feather & Nest, in Wallingford, has got easy-peasy brown paper gift bags with stickers for tricky-shaped gifts, perfect for hopeless wrappers like me (plus all their cards and stationery are made in the UK). Another Muddy favourite, Plastic Freedom, has these recycled ribbons and paper options (see our interview with fabulous founder Beth Noy here), while Sophia Victoria Joy screen-prints jaunty chevrons onto this recycled paper (above). And how’s this for a dual-purpose genius product? This seed paper can be used to wrap or make greetings cards and tags – and then afterwards you plant it and grow poppies. Awww! Finally, (woolly) hats off to fashion brand Fat Face – we love this video that shows you how to repurpose shopping bags as wrapping paper.


A fine pine

I always think the Christmas tree graveyard at the council collection point come early January is such a sad sight. All those gorgeous trees, chopped down, spangled up with tinsel for a few weeks and then chucked out. Dobbies garden centres (branches in Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Milton Keynes and Reading) have a decent selection of artificial trees plus some pot-grown ones so you can replant in Jan. Alternatively, the Cotswold Fir Christmas Tree Company offer a rental service, with loads of pick-up points in our sister county, Gloucestershire and one in London (or they’ll deliver for a fee). There’s even the option to reserve the exact same tree for next Crimbo too, should you become deeply attached to your fir.


Totally crackers

John Lewis announced recently that from next year their crackers won’t contain single-use plastic toys (or cracker tat, as it’s known in our house). We love Nancy & Betty‘s stylish, handmade, fully recyclable crackers (above) which are handmade in Kent and Kate Sproston‘s clever reusable linen crackers, that you can fill with sweets or toys year after year.


Eat, drink and be merry

We’re obviously massively spoilt for choice around here when it comes to fantastic food and drink producers so here are just a few of my favourites.

Bridewell Gardens, a brilliant charity project in West Oxon, offers social and therapeutic horticulture sessions to people with mental health issues so the English sparkling wine from their vineyard has the feelgood factor in more ways than one. Two other local sparkler producers to check out are Harrow & Hope in Marlow and Dinton Wines (I’m partial to a glass or two of Dinton Folly) or if you’re hitting the harder stuff, do try Foxdenton Gin. It went down a treat at the Muddy Awards this year.

How about getting all your veg from your local farm shop? I’m lucky enough to have PE Mead and Smallford Farm Shop within striking distance. You’ll also fine me drooling over the cheese counter at The Little Deli in Hitchin. Speaking of which, I urge you to seek out Bix from Nettlebed Creamery near Henley and the fantastically named Herts-produced Wobbly Bottom goat’s cheese, and give them pride of place on your Christmas cheeseboard.


Deck the halls

Step away from the bargain pack of plastic supermarket baubles made in China and think laterally this year when it comes to glitzing up your interiors. I’ve previously nabbed gorgeous vintage decorations from antiques centre, The Swan at Tetsworth (while you’re in that neck of the woods, check out fellow dealers, Foster & Gane, for surprisingly affordable gifts – antiques are by their very nature sustainable, of course).

Meanwhile, online store & Keep has oodles of plastic free, paper and felt decorations while Plastic Freedom (above) have some wonderfully inventive options in brass and mango wood. Don’t forget good ol’ Oxfam – I love this little Fairtrade, hand-made felt flamingo and finally, if someone doesn’t buy me Feather & Nest’s dancing fairy dog (below) then Christmas is officially cancelled.


Are you aiming for a more sustainable Christmas this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts and tips – comments below, please.

Find more ideas here


2 comments on “How to have an eco-friendly Christmas”

  • Jo Kidd December 13, 2019

    Thank you for all the lovely articles you write over the year. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them but particularly this one as it is close to our hearts too. We are running a make your own recyclable crackers workshop at Berkhamsted Arts & Crafts (23rd Dec £20) – you just bring the “personal gift” for each one (or use the chocs we will supply). We will be stamping Kraft paper, making snowflakes and poinsettias to decorate them along with twine, string and raffia. We are also running loads of fun courses next year that could be bought as Christmas gifts. Our shop is full of more and more products made in the UK (we do our best) our ribbons are now made from recycled materials, and of course we sell anything to be creative – art, craft, knitting etc… great to get youngsters off their gadgets and stimulate all our brains in a good practical way. Happy Christmas to all of you at Muddystilettos and I hope that next year is as brilliant as the past one… if not more .. Jo at BAC (Berkhamsted Arts & Crafts)

    • December 17, 2019

      Lovely to hear from you Jo, and thanks for your kind comments. Merry Christmas to you too!


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