Far from the original Christmas spirit, some kind of consumer mania seems to overtake a large proportion of the population just after the beginning of December each year. The traditions of sharing food, gifting presents and making wreaths have evolved over the years, most recently affected by our current economic system which encourages mass overconsumption. Christmas is the time when the effects of capitalism are perhaps most obvious; while some feast lavishly others go hungry, large companies reap in profits, and many cannot afford to gift their families while thousands of gifts end up in charity shops, or worse, the rubbish.
It is however not all bad, as we say the problem is the solution. There's probably no better time of year to apply the permaculture principle, apply self regulation and accept feedback. If, like me, you observe Christmas making you feel a little bit uncomfortable, interact with your discomfort and use it to make positive changes.
There are most defintely ways you can still celebrate while caring for people and the planet. To help inspire some ideas, we've started you off with 10 ways that you can permaculture your Christmas.
The whole concept of growing trees, chopping them down and putting them in our living rooms before they're disposed of is a bit of a strange practice. Planting trees is an important way to sequester carbon, but we need to let them grow to maturity. For many of us though, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree. So if you take part in this Christmas tradition maybe think purchasing a tree in a pot (you can always gift it to someone after the festivities if you don’t have a garden or when it gets too big) or see if there’s a ‘rent-a-tree’ service near you. Failing that, choose organic or one from a sustainably managed woodland.
When it comes to handmade, it really is the thought that counts and people will hopefully appreciate the time that you’ve put in to making them a gift. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be the best crafter handmade presents are always unique and in my opinion, usually much better than a shop bought gift.
Re-use Wrapping Paper
You can easily re-use paper and gift bags Even newspaper can look beautiful if you have a good wrapping technique and add a bit of simple decoration. Old road maps are also create an interesting effect, and can often be found in charity shops. Or go one better, and wrap your presents in cloth and ribbon which can then be folded and stored for next year.
Christmas is all about the food. Fill your belly and invest in the soil at the same time by choosing veg from a local organic farm. If you don’t have an organic stall at a farmers market or shop near you, take a look online to see if you can order a Christmas veg box from a local CSA or organic farm. Big Barn is a good place to start looking.
If, unlike me, you like to eat turkey at Christmas time, support a female farmer who is restoring soil, teaching permaculture and who donates turkeys as Christmas presents to the local homeless shelter. Or visit your local butcher and find out which farmers have the most soil and nature friendly farming techniques and choose the best option you can.
Gift your time or gifts
Sadly in todays society many people do not have friends or family that they can celebrate the holidays with. Fortunately there are many different organisations who create Christmas meals for people and help to distribute gifts and food that make people feel cared for. Many of these organisations rely on volunteers, so if you are able, gift some time or presents this season. Even if it’s just calling into your neighbours for a cup of tea, a cold brew in my case.
Get crafting with tetra packs, decorate old jars, collect some pine cones, dry and hang some organic oranges, make stockings from old jeans, the Pinterest community have loads of ideas.
Photo by Le Jardin Sophie
If we’re going to build a resilient future we need resilient local economies. Support your local crafters by visiting local markets and craft shops to pick up meaningfully made gifts that support local livelihoods.
It is incredibly easy to cook too much food for Christmas dinner. While you don’t want guests to go hungry keeping edible food out of the bin should be a priority. With a bit of proper meal planning and a bit of creativity you can reduce your waste and enjoy your meal waste free.
Sustainable Secondhand Surprises
Presents don’t have to be brand new to be good gifts. Check our your local charity shops and car boot sales for some unique finds that will make someone smile.
Hopefully these 10 ideas to permaculture your Christmas have sparked some inspiration. If you have any other ideas we would love to hear them. However you decide to spend this season, all of us here at Learn Permaculture wish you a very happy holiday.