Silly Saturday – Season of Sustainability

Are you ready to recycle Christmas? Whether you want to save money or the planet the Xmas season is to be avoided. Our consumption of pastry and plastic increases drastically at this time of year, followed after Christmas by throwing most of it away. Even that which we cannot see, gas and electricity, is used in abundance. This is partly the fault of the earth’s axis in the northern hemisphere; it is winter and the nights are long, we need heat and light, but do we need all our houses lit up like Las Vegas with generators pumping air into giant inflatable snowmen? Bring back Scrooge…  Most people complain that their councils haven’t put up enough lights, not too many. Of course it is the colourful lights that make dark winter afternoons more bearable…


Perhaps you can still have fun with a guilt free Christmas. One of the few things Prince Charles and I have in common is that our worries about the environment were laughed at in years gone by… My favourite part of Christmas is unwrapping presents carefully and folding the paper ready for ironing and reuse next year. Now even wrapping paper is bad, shiny and plasticised, we have to use plantain leaves instead.

And what gift is wrapped inside? Our love of cute and fun presents has encouraged the passage of thousands ( I don’t claim the statistics to be accurate ) of container ships full of plastic rubbish. Let’s all make our own presents and decorations or buy them from charity shops and give aunty back the vase you gave her last year which she dumped at the Red Cross shop. Last year we did Secret Santa for the adults, this year we are doing the same except we have to get gifts from charity shops – I’ll let you know in the new year if it’s a disaster!


Last year I crocheted an advent calendar for a little person; I don’t claim to have designed it, I do claim it does not look quite like the picture in the Christmas crochet book I bought at the knitting shop. I made another one this year for his little brother, which looks even less like the illustration. The key point; it is in line with government policy on child obesity, there are no chocolates in the pockets; I cut little pictures out of recycled Christmas cards. My next project is knitted crackers – the sort with a joke inside, not the sort you eat with cheese.


The best decorations are those our ancestors used for Yuletide, totally organic and natural, holly and ivy. If the holly in your garden bears no berries, creep round to your neighbours after dark and surreptitiously snip off some branches. You can also pick up odd branches that have fallen off the trees in the park during windy weather and stick a few sprigs of holly in to make a table decoration.

Whether you knit grandma a scarf with huge needles and chunky wool or create exquisite treasure boxes with your wood turning skills, home made presents show you care – or that you are flat broke. If you are an author you can give friends and family autographed copies of your own books, whether they want one or not. Cyberspouse says at least it’s one way of getting rid of them.


If you don’t fancy DIY gifts there are still environmentally friendly alternatives. Have your children got too many toys? It’s probably a bit late for this Christmas, but start next year stashing away surplus toys; by next Christmas they will have forgotten them and you can rewrap them.

One year we gave the elderly relatives (who were always saying they didn’t need anything ) gifts from World Vision, but they were a little confused. This idea can backfire if the receiver is upset they aren’t getting a real goat to keep, or insulted that you have given them a toilet.

For more ideas to help the environment follow Carol Taylor’s regular blog.

What are the best or worst home made presents you have given or received? Are you making your own decorations?







31 thoughts on “Silly Saturday – Season of Sustainability

  1. Janet! I love this post! “Creep round to the neighbors…” HAHAHA! Brilliant! Those advent calenders are so VERY cool! Much cooler than the one I got out of my mom’s magazine when I was a child. As for the gifts, the middle class in America has been pretty much wiped out. We leave gift giving to the rich! I know between my hubby and my family, we basically quit gifting, but rely on thrift stores if we do. You should have great luck! I find thrift stores to be magical. Just the little ones get gifts from their parents and of course, SANTA. We try to remember the ‘reason for the season’ and attend church, concerts, and plays… free if available. Ice skating, sledding, and board games have always been included in our activities. This is the first year almost EVER that I will be without snow and in warm weather. (I really wish I would have learned to knit and/or crochet when I had a great teacher alive, my grandma.) I’m going to keep checking back and see if I can get some warm weather inspiration for this warm Christmas I am about to enjoy! xo

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  2. Here, here! We have presents down to a bare minimum – why spend money and use resources on something the receiver doesn’t even want? Brown paper or plain paper decorated with potato prints to wrap them, too.

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  3. We take the whole family out for a meal before Christmas instead of giving expensive presents. I used to give signed copies of the books I had written but I haven’t published one this year so I’m choosing appropriate(!) ones instead and just hoping they haven’t read them.If they have they can always give them away without telling me.It’s the thought that counts!
    I have avoided all Christmas cards with glitter – which wasn’t easy, but so many people send cards on line we won’t be posting so many this year.
    This year the fashionable gift is trees.
    Happy Christmas.

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  4. We usually spend Christmas away from home with family, so no outside lights and minimal decor inside. I’m wearing a beautiful custom crocheted Christmas scarf my bestie made and love it! My brother’s 4 adopted daughters have plenty of material things, so every Christmas I send them a check to use for day camps and swim lessons. I’d rather “buy” them experiences than toys. Great post and a wonderful reminder of the spirit of Christmas is more important than stuff!

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  5. I love how you are so dedicated to sustainabilty, Janet, thank you for adding my link…I love your calendars so very cute…Lots of great ideas and the link to world Vision. Chrismas is low key here as Thias don’t celebrate they also like useful gifts like food or something for the house…Children normally get a toy toy at New Year..A toy..any more is seen to be frivulous…Pressed your post for today 7/12 🙂 xx

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  6. My granddaughter made a chain loop countdown to Christmas. she’s 6 and we’ve never done the Advent calendars. I’m making a few stockings. And they are painting, and crafting decorations. and making cookies with their cousin! Merry Christmas!

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  7. My husband and I are alone, and we are not accustomed to putting up trees anymore as there is just us and our pets. We did go to the thrift store and found something we had both needed, a toaster oven, and we got that for ourselves. We can do a lot of cooking in it (which we have been doing) and it is more economical than using our oven. Anyway, I I always feel good about recycling and saving things from the garbage that are perfectly good items. And we really don’t care to go overboard on spending. We are trying to simplify our cooking as my husband is partly disabled and it is too much for either of us to try to do fancy cooking, etc. This is easy to clean, works perfectly and enables us to cook a meal in a minimum of time. We live in a senior mobile home park, and I often find items that still have the price tags on them in our garbage bins. I bring everything home and I can wash and clean it and make it useful for us, and if not, it goes to another thrift store. I call it my tailgate shopping. Seniors in this park die, and the relatives don’t want to be bothered by their things. Sometimes the things have new price tags on them. I just feel good helping the earth to not become so polluted. Some cloth has formaldehyde in it, and that chemical lives a long, long time, so it is good to keep clothing out of the landfills.

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  8. This is a lovely post to read on any day of the year. We’ve decided to reduce gift giving in our family. Some years we have pooled our resources and given gifts of animals via Heifer International ( to folks who can use them in other parts of the world. This year I bought copies of THE OVERSTORY and THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES to give to family members. Some copies I bought new at a local new book store and others I bought used at a local used book store. I love reading about your crocheted creations as well as all of the ideas shared in everyone’s comments. One of my favorite bloggers is a man who lives in Montreal, Canada, and makes a living scavenging from all the stuff that human beings throw away — especially family members after someone has died and a house needs to be emptied quickly… It is amazing what he finds and inspiring to read what he does with all of the stuff he collects (using tag sales, eBay, auction houses, scrap metal sales, and his blog) — A healthy and happy new year with less and less consumption for all!

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  9. Your ideas are wonderful. We are a bit behind the curve here in US and I only started hearing about “single use plastic” and fretting about my husband’s sandwich baggies a few months before he retired 😁 One minute everyone is drinking out of plastic bottles and taking trips on airplanes and the next they are chastised for it! Not to make light of the very real environmental problems. I like the holly and ivy suggestion very much. Will use next year 🌲

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