By Erin Grant (@papermachemind)

Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, this time of the year is a lovely one to come together and share experiences, food and gifts with those we love. It’s also possible to strive towards having a sustainable season too while we’re at it, and this can be done within our own budgets and lifestyles. Here are some ideas to put sustainability under the tree this year!
  1. Food, Glorious Food!

How about this year you make the switch to a plant-based pantry? Irish company Thanks Plants are famed for their festive plant-based roasts, and sausages for the stuffing. Choose locally sourced veggies like Green Earth Organics, keep an eye out in supermarkets for sustainable alternatives, shop in local stores such as McCambridge’s and Ernie’s, grab the recyclable or glass packaging and get your spices and seasonings from your local refill store like The Filling Station here in Galway. Whatever your favourite winter delights are, nearly all of them will have a vegan version available!

  1. Sustainable Sparkle & Style 

As nights out become more of a regular thing, and workplaces start to have seasonal parties there can be a lot of pressure to dress up in something new but don’t be afraid to re-wear clothing. How about borrowing something to wear through a clothes swap, restyling something you own, or putting together a look from one of the second-hand stores in town such as COPE or Vincent’s. If you are buying new, seek out local sustainable brands if possible.

  1. Oh, Christmas Tree

For many of us, putting up the tree is one of the best parts of the holiday season. If you’re buying a real tree, go for one that is potted so you can replant it after, or choose a sustainably sourced and compostable tree from Galway Christmas Trees. If you have children why not take this as a lovely opportunity to talk about the value of trees, encouraging them to make eco decorations such as repurposed paper garlands. If putting up a tree indoors isn’t your scene, consider planting native trees instead.

  1. Eco Conscious Gifts & Experiences 

If you are gifting children’s toys this year, you could browse Irish brand Jiminy Eco Toys or Wooden Heart for those extra special treasures that are made to last. It might be nice to set a goal to buy as many items as possible from local artists, markets and shops in Galway such as Two Wild Geese, Cuckoo Craft and Design, and My Shop Granny Likes It to name a few. Many people are also switching to experience-based gifts and they are a great way to extend your present into something to look forward to next year! Creative classes such as pottery, photography or drawing are always fun and if the outdoors are for them, you could choose an environmentally friendly tour, or a hike with The Hike Life.

  1. That’s A Wrap!

When it comes to the final touches, we can still think sustainably! It’s incredible the amount of paper and plastic that ends up in the bin minutes after we’ve opened our gifts. This year why not start a tradition of wrapping your gifts in sustainable materials? You can opt for swaps such as recycled paper, fabrics, pretty magazines or newspapers and finish off your parcel with dried flowers, jute string and some edible decorations like plastic free candy canes or vegan chocolates. There are also greeting cards embedded with wildflowers which can be planted in your garden. With so many options, it’s all about having fun, being creative and spreading joy!

Érin Grant is Galway-based digital creator and one of our fantastic contributors for GALWAYnow. Érin lives and breathes all things sustainable. She strives to live an animal, people, and planet friendly life and wants to teach others how to do the same.