Our Top 12 Tips to help you 'Bee' Green this Christmas
Hello lovelies, no doubt December 25th is a date that’s rarely far from your mind right now as we get ready to fully joyeux jump (jingle bells and all) into the height of the season of joy and all that comes with it.
The little HBB elves are here with you whilst you prepare for December’s festivities and to help spread the cost and cheer of Christmas with our top hints and tips for sustainable, less-stressed, kinder, planet friendly celebrations.
With sustainability and happy, positive vibes being at the heart of everything we do here at HBB, we like to treat Christmas differently (especially with things in the world the way they are) by striving to support our fellow small businesses, by helping you to save the pennies and the planet, to spread our care for others and nature and try to make Christmas that little bit greener.
So, grab a mulled wine or steaming cuppa, spark up that festive candle and read on for some planet friendly holiday hints and how-to videos to ignite your inner eco warrior!
Our Top 12 Tips for a Green Christmas
1. Oh, Christmas Tree oh, Christmas Tree
Ok so let’s first talk about the main decoration feature which are sure to be adorning our homes very soon - the tree!
If buying a plastic tree choose wisely, a handy rule of thumb is to make sure you are going to reuse it for at least the next ten years, otherwise it would be planet friendlier to buy a living tree from a sustainable forest.
Real Christmas trees are glorious but cutting down a tree and sending it to landfill a few weeks later does seem rather wasteful, doesn’t it? So, how can we make our real trees an extra eco-friendly option?
Consider renting a Christmas tree from a local outlet (click HERE for details on how to do this) or buying a replantable one to use again next year and for many more to come - will also be purse friendly too!
Click HERE for a great guide detailing all your Christmas tree options.
Alternatively, you could do away with a tree altogether by decorating a small potted plant or making one out of painted sticks, or plump for a different sort of festive décor altogether - maybe a nativity scene or a religious or spiritual symbol that’s important to you and your family.
And it’s not just the tree that’s cast aside after the month’s up - what about the christmassy poinsettias that are often ‘one-month wonders’, forgotten as soon as the festive period ends.
Buy to last and show yours some love post Christmas and beyond with THESE tips on how to keep them thriving throughout the year, making them a more sustainable décor choice.
2. Deck the Halls
For Christmas and tree decorations plump for plastic free options such as ones made from sustainable wood, plastic free string and baubles made from recycled glass.
Our fellow Welsh and West business women Cag and Jo have some absolutely gorgeous sustainable hanging decorations (think bees, pets, festive glass bunting) that are definitely worth a look. We've popped some pics of their work below:
Or how about saving the spend on decorations by making your own! Particularly fun to do with the kids or grandkids – try mixing up you own salt dough decorations using plain flour, salt and water.
And don’t forget to embrace those decks that lurk in the loft emerging every year for Christmas – after all some of the most sentimental, unique and special decorations are these family heirlooms that appear year after year; making them instantly sustainable and saving the spend on new ones.
3. Food Glorious Food
For many of us (or is it just us?!) this is the part we most look forward to – what is better than festive feasting – the freedom of being able to enjoy as many delicious culinary delights as we wish.
Be a carbon footprint hero by buying your food locally and showing your independent suppliers some love.
Did you know the average spend on food per person at Christmas is around £160 -wouldn’t it be awesome if a huge chunk of that went back into our local small businesses and communities? If ever there was a time for it to be massively appreciated by them it would be this year, surely, with the struggles we are facing economically.
There’s a fine line between being decadent and deluded isn’t there when it comes to our Christmas grocery haul. We always tend to buy too much food don’t we!
In fact, some reports suggest that food waste in the UK increases by around 30% at this time of the year (and year on year it increases)– not only wasteful but costly for us too.
So, what can we do? Plan ahead, undertake frequent fridge checks, take stock of what’s there, keep an eye on the use by dates of different products and when it comes to best before dates trust in your senses to use foods beyond their indicated best before shelf life – especially if plant based or dried – to limit unnecessary waste.
Rescue any sad looking veg by making stock or soup – perfect winter warmers for these chilly evenings. Let the creative juices flow - how about roasting leftover veg and teaming with an egg and toast – an ideal welcome on those hangover days!
How adventurous can you be with your leftovers? Treat yourself and any willing family members to something novel – beetroot leaves, banana peels, clementine skins can all be used as an instant skin pack to refresh and revive skin as you grab a few minutes to yourself.
For some sustainably savvy, modern ideas on how to use kitchen leftovers to nourish your skin and their benefits, have a look at this article HERE.
Another foodie hint is to stick to seasonal plant-based foods – our beloved Christmas parsnips and sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, potatoes, apples, chestnuts, mushrooms, cranberries are all in season but consider ditching produce that isn’t such as the asparagus - often favoured as a starter but it has a short shelf life and is almost always air-freighted from Europe. How about a seasonal soup, braised leeks on bruschetta, or artichoke fritters instead?
If turkey is to be the centrepiece of your festive feast, consider going organic and local – perhaps have a look at an organic supplier that is local to you – check out THIS LINK to find one.
Many of these organic turkeys are free to venture everyday into clover rich organic pasture, feed on organic oats and many even enjoy listening to some classical music!
The price of turkey skyrockets at this time of year so, as we are all looking to save a few pennies, why not go for something non-traditional like a local, organic chicken, or, meat free options are often cheaper, how about a seasonal cranberry and mushroom wellington?
Often find you are stewing in leftovers in the wake of Crimbo? Olio is a fab food sharing mobile app that allows you to share with your neighbours to reduce waste. If you or someone you know works in a restaurant, try the too good to go app that allows customers to rescue unsold shop and restaurant food.
And what about the wonder of wine fizzing and sparkling everywhere at this time of year? However, it doesn’t always feel like such a wonderment the next morning though does it? How about being sympathetic to the environment and to your head by opting for organic tipples over the festive period.
Not only will you avoid ingesting hangover causing pesticide or herbicide residues, but your choice will also be encouraging biodiversity and carbon capture.
Do you find too that supplying all your guests with alcohol can be a little costly? Try making your own punch or mulled wine by replacing some of the more expensive alcohol content with pomegranate, cherry or cranberry juice. Make it your own unique tipple by adding some vermouth (great way to use up those bottles lurking in the back of the cupboard!) and your own choice of fresh herbs and fruit.
Whilst contemplating the gastronomic delights of Christmas, our thoughts also go out to those who might be struggling with eating or drinking issues which can become exacerbated at this time of year. If this resonates with you or a loved one, have a look at the following advice on how you can help to ease the extra challenges faced during the Christmas period :
4. Shine Brightly and Kindly
LEDs offer us a ‘bee-utifully’ bright eco-friendly alternative to twinkling incandescent lights – they use up to 80% less energy so are also much more pocket friendly too.
It will cost you £1 to run your Christmas tree lights for 30 days based on a 1000 LED light set on for 8 hours a day, making them 5-10 times more economical than their traditional counterparts.
Remember to switch off your lights at night to save on electricity as well as being a safer option.
In fact, did you know, if every household swapped their regular Christmas lights for LEDS we could save more than 11 million and 29,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 12 days of Christmas alone! (www.itsourplanettoo.co.uk)
5. Go (considerately) Crackers!
We all love to pull a cracker don’t we?!
However the ‘usual’ varieties are covered in polluting glitter, plastic and the gifts inside are often heavily plastic based too - micro plastic madness with a bang.
Instead, why not try some certified eco - friendly crackers, or how about popping a little gift such as a candle out as an alternative and little gifts for the children such as crafting supplies or small personalised keepsakes.
We know we should try to avoid single use table cloths and napkins – not always a practical option for lots of big gatherings though is it and who wants to be swamped with extra washing amidst the celebrations, not too mention the impact of the extra washing on the environment and our wallets.
Perhaps find a compromise and choose sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable tableware. Check out www.talkingtables.co.uk for some stylish, eco-friendly table scaping ideas.
6. Shop Small
With the costs of fuel rising and the struggle being real for small businesses across the UK, there has never been a better reason to discover the sustainable gifting, grocery and décor options in your locality.
When you do shop online also try to opt for small businesses that don’t employ costly manufacturing processes, that care about the planet, sustainability and their carbon footprint.
When buying from us here at HBB, you can be sure that we do our very best to support our local community – the honey and beeswax we use is harvested right on our doorstep, and our essential oils and butters are sourced ethically with care by local, Welsh leaping bunny approved suppliers Naissance.
As we can’t be local to all you lovelies we opt to be as eco friendly as possible by delivering your parcels using Royal Mail. They have the lowest reported carbon emissions per parcel of any major UK delivery company with plans laid out in their four step journey to becoming net zero by 2040 - well done Royal Mail!
7. Christmas Clothing
Dressing for the party season can be pricey and that feeling of ‘nothing to wear’ can become all too commonplace when even us introverts venture out of our homes more than usual!
We are often left desperately searching online for that something ‘special’ which may only get worn once or not at all – we all know the feeling!
There are some great sustainable alternatives to ‘fast fashion’ out there – from unique sewn goodies from dead stock fabrics, to hiring and ‘clothes swap’ options or taking in some preloved threads from friends.
We really recommend having a scour of your local charity shops, vintage is always in and they are like treasure troves for unique outfits ready to be dressed up and teamed with some sparkly jewels or a glamourous hair band for those Christmas eves out. Or, consider giving outfits you already own a festive twist with a scarf, a pair of shiny heels or glittery earrings.
8. Inspire Planet Kindness in Others
How great does it feel when you share something that is important to you with others too? We don’t mean indulging in any Noel nagging to family and friends about being environmentally friendly but instead encouraging them on board with gifts that are fun, effective, and unique as well as being eco.
You might just inspire them to think differently and contemplate the environment in a way they hadn’t before. Think reusable coffee cups for the caffeine fiend in the family or crafting, recyclable books for the kids, or cruelty free beauty products for the skincare lovers that are sustainably formulated and packaged – anything that bit different and individual (small businesses do this so well) to provoke thoughts and conversation.
There is nothing more rewarding for ourselves and for others than spreading the love for nature and our planet in in a kind, caring way.
9. Greener Gifting
If anything the last few years have taught us is that being together and peace is more important that ‘stuff’.
Give the gift of your time to the people you love or who might need and really appreciate it.
How about buying something practical – perhaps a National Trust or RSPB membership for nature lovers or a family railcard for the parents of a bustling brood? A great gift idea to help a family get out and about together in a more sustainable way.
We may be biased as huge lovers of nature and happy skin, but who doesn’t love receiving something that relaxes them, smells delish and makes their skin glow and feel soothed? It’s also lovely to gift something that someone may not think to buy themselves and to share the love of nature and chemical free products with someone who may not even be aware of the toxic nasties impacting on them and the planet lurking in mainstream skincare.
This year we have helped to make choosing gifts hassle free by creating different options for the all the personalities amongst our friends and family.
For that lover of all things Christmassy? Have a look at our Festive Bee gift box.
Or, how about buying a few of our different gift boxes (cheaper than buying the products separately) and break up into small gifts uniquely chosen for specific recipients, splitting the eco packaging and adding some gift wrap/tagging of your own? You could even keep a product for yourself that way too - after all don’t you deserve a little treat too.
What about some homemade gifts and crafting your own culinary delights? They are an amazing way of sharing love and care, there really is something special we think here about receiving the fruits of someone’s labour.
Flavoured oils are an easy peasey option that can look exquisitely chic in glass bottles, and who doesn’t have a use for an unctuous oil, be it for cooking, skincare or relaxation?
Try popping a dried chilli in olive oil (more cooking for most than skincare here but if you are adventurous and interested in chillies in skincare have a read of Lise Lise blog HERE) Or, how about popping herbs or chilli in some vodka for a lover of booze and botanical spice!
Perhaps try a homemade chamomile oil? Buy some ready dried chamomile flowers (the sort you would put in tea) and simply steep in a carrier oil of your choice such as olive, jojoba or castor. This gift will be a perfect remedy for anxiety, inflammation, pain relief and for soothing the skin – apply directly to skin, use as a bath oil, or use a few drops after towel drying hair to leave it soft and shiny!
Or, what about having a go at making your own lip balms to gift? Did you catch the recipe we included in our October newsletter? If not click HERE to access – any questions, please drop us a line.
For those who are green fingered, put any leftover gluts of veggies to good gifting use by making a chutney or jam – some easy-to-follow recipes can be found HERE.
Top tip: this is a great way of using up your HBB honey jars.
Do you have lots of gifts to send to family and friends this Christmas? If so, how about saving yourself a trip to the post office, any money on fuel, and the stress of any Christmas queues by buying your postage online and having Royal Mail collect for FREE. This service is being offered by Royal Mail for the rest of this year – take advantage by booking your parcels HERE and they will be labelled and collected right from your doorstep!
10. Switch to Soy Scents
Out come the candles at Christmas time, whether it’s for a cosy feeling through the winter months or as part of advent, this year we are expected to be using them even more than usual as alternatives to lights and to help quell ever rising electricity bills. However, it’s worth considering their impact on pollution levels as well as on your health.
Did you know that paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are toxic to your health and the environment (www.itsourplanettoo.co.uk)?
Candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based waxes are more eco-friendly, being biodegradable and smoke-free.
If you have bought any of our little candles to light or gift you can trust that they are made solely from soy and beeswax and are scented by pure natural essential oils – we use eco wicks only and absolutely no artificial fragrances, paraffin or petroleum.
Top tip: use old jars to make candles ornamental - fill up with some plant mica and pop the candle in! You could also pop a bit of glue around the outside of the jar and dip into some eco glitter if feeling the need for some extra sparkle!
Another tip: scoop out any leftover wax from your HBB beeswax candle tin and use on top of a burner as a deliciously natural wax melt!
11. That’s a Wrap!
Unravel the old and reveal the new! A shocking 227 thousand miles of wrapping paper is thrown away used each year (www.wheeliebinsolutions.co.uk) the majority of this is coated with plastic film, ending up in landfill.
AND: 11.8 million kilos of carbon dioxide are emitted every year to make traditional wrapping paper- that’s the equivalent emissions of almost 5,000 cars (www.goorganicuk.com)!
Also, who wants reams of paper to clear up and the debate over what can be put in the recycling bags and what can’t? Err on the safe side, avoid yourself the stress by checking with your local recycling in advance what can be recycled and what can't.
Or, be super awesome and consider eco-friendly wrap or alternative packaging ideas. Have a watch of our little vids below to give you some ideas on how to ‘wrap and roll’ the eco way with some hand tied bows. (Disclaimer! It’s first time I have tried to film anything like this so I hope you can follow ok - Bec x )
Here are some other examples of tying a simple bow:
Why not enjoy a lovely winter walk on a cold crisp day to collect some of your own natural decorations for pressies – fallen leaves, pine cones, holly or fern maybe. Try ivy or eucalyptus as decorative foliage which won't dry out too quickly or shed its leaves.
Have you had a go at furoshiki? This is the Japanese art-form of wrapping gifts in reusable fabric: eco friendly, attractive and versatile. See Bec give as a demo of this below:-
Have a look at this easy-to-follow step by step guide HERE to try this at home.
Did you know this year we are offering package free options for all our gifts?
Not only does this save you pennies in these difficult times but it is better for the planet too - perhaps you can try one of our ideas above if you would like to wrap up the honey goodies yourself?
If you do buy one of our gifts ready boxed and wrapped, you can rest assured that you are also making a great choice for the environment as all our wrap, packaging inside and outside is biodegradable, recyclable or reusable.
When it comes to cards and gift tags opt for biodegradable or recyclable, or, how about giving that little bit extra to the recipient and our pollinators by choosing a seeded gift tag or card – have you had a peak at our ‘bee’ friendly wildflower seeded gift tags?
12. Christmas Self Care
Go gentle on yourself, don’t sweat the small stuff – set aside time for your skincare as we can often neglect our usual self care routines in midst of the Christmas rush.
Take time for the things that help you unwind and destress - for more tips on a stress free Christmas and advice to anyone who may feel anxious or lonely at this time of year please read our top stress busting tips for a calming Christmas HERE
For some more save rather than splurge inspiration, have a look at this free budget planner: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/budget-planning/
If you are looking to create free (or very cheap) fun and memories for children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces to enjoy the magic of Christmas, have a look at the ideas in Jenny’s Free Christmas Magic Blog
For anyone struggling with debts in this cost-of-living crisis, Christmas can give way to them spiralling further out of control – for help consult:
We hope there has been a little something for everyone in this blog to help with making Christmas time a happier, kinder, more purse friendly and green event this year. Please do get in touch if we can help with anything at all.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday ahead,
Cath and Bec x