A Sustainable(ish) Handmade Christmas
Crafts and sustainability have become bigger than ever this year, and my lack of appointments has given me ample time to dedicate the best part of two months to my usual to-do list of Christmas crafts. In the season of overspending and overconsumption, I wanted to give a little bit of extra time and thought to creating things that would bring a bit of cheer and inspiration to my friends and family after months of chaos and confusion. I'm not going to give a full rundown of sustainable Christmas tips (mainly because I couldn't possibly put it better than Alice from Authentic House did in her blog), and I promise I won't be rhapsodising about every Christmas gift I knitted or thing I baked, the rolls of recycled kraft wrapping paper I painted which left me wiping black paint from my kitchen cabinets in a panic, or even about the faux fur-lined blanket I made for my dog (I'm one of those people), but here's a rundown of my top projects.
I usually hand-make my greetings cards, but this year decided to get some printed thinking (wrongly!) that it would take me less time. Although more expensive and less sustainable than hand-made, it would enable me to send out many more cards than usual and to gift a pack to my Mum as a Christmas present she would actually use and enjoy. I made two designs, one for 2020 and a different one for 2021, in watercolour of my dog in cute Christmassy settings and ordered them in recycled card from instantprint and was really impressed with the quality. The plan for my leftover 2020 cards is to sell them next year for charity.
My second big idea was to make a reusable advent calendar. I haven't had a chocolate advent calendar since I was a kid, having never been able to justify the cost and waste as an adult, and was very close to giving in to the bombardment of targeted ads for expensive tea advent calendars when I decided that we probably already had enough tea at home (which mostly sits abandoned on the shelf) to fill an advent calendar. I'd recently taken up knitting again so decided to knit twenty-four miniature stockings I could use again and again for years to come. I chose this pattern by Julie Williams and agonised for hours about my materials: I didn't want to use a yarn with plastic content, recycled yarns were not offering the colour range I was looking for, and I was also reluctant to use an animal hair yarn or an 100% cotton yarn, since these require so much water to produce. I eventually went for the Stylecraft Naturals DK Bamboo/Cotton blend and it is so soft and nice to work with. Bamboo is a common sustainable alternative to cotton, since it grows quickly and requires relatively little labour or resources. I chose round coconut shell buttons for the fastenings, a natural alternative to plastic, although I did go with plastic beads for the numbers in the end.
I know I said I was not going to go on about every detail of my Christmas, but I'll close with a list of ethical retailers and brands I shopped with over the festive season. I don't believe our society is ever going to reach a place where December doesn't entail an excessive amount of shopping for most people, but we can at least think more carefully about what we buy and where our money is going.
Roar and Gill Coffee Pods - Nespresso-compatible, home-compostable, and super stylish! Originally chosen as a gift, but also got myself a selection pack and they are very tasty.
Amnesty International Shop - also originally was for gifts, but ended up with a box of books, toiletries, and snacks mostly for myself! A somewhat eclectic mix of things which are recycled, organic, fairly-traded, educational, or eco-friendly with all purchases raising money for Amnesty. Got myself some Fairtrade Divine chocolate coins as a backup filler for the advent calendar and hot chocolate which has formed a core element of my festive diet.
Authentic House - my favourite place to shop all year round! A sustainable living subscription box and shop which adds new goodies every month. I've been a subscriber for about a year and a half now and it has transformed my consumer habits. On this list because I got a lovely Christmassy candle in my December box.