It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Wastemas

It’s the season of giving, and by giving I mean needlessly consuming and spending, which let’s be honest is what Christmas has become. I’m not trying to be a party pooper, and seriously whichever holidays you celebrate I hope you have a great time, but try and remember what is important this time of year (and all other times of the year). Supporting each other, being with loved ones and helping those less fortunate.

There are plenty of ways in which you can still enjoy the holidays and reduce waste/ not buy into the consumerism culture.

  1. Think honestly about what it is that you need/want this holiday season.

I had real trouble finding things to ask for this year when my family members wanted to know what I want as a present, and that’s because i’ve rewired my thinking. Practicing mindful living has made me take stock of what is important materialistically in my life, and the answer is not a lot honestly. I live very comfortably as I am now, I don’t need new clothes, I don’t care about the latest gadgets anymore, so what is there to ask for?

How about asking friends and family to donate the money that they would normally spend on you to a charity? If you still want something to open then many charities provide ‘gifts’ this time of year. For example Friends of the Earth are giving out ‘Christmas Bee Saver Kits’ with a minimum donation of £12.

2. Think about gifts beyond what you can buy

  • Many people show their love through well thought out gifts that they know their family and friends will enjoy, and i’m not saying that we should stop that, but there are more ways of providing gifts than spending money on fancy new items.
  • Provide experiences – things such as experience days, trips, lessons etc – one of my most memorable gifts was when my nan bought me a ‘walk with hawks’ which allowed me to spend the day learning about and watching various birds of prey with a group of other enthusiasts.
  • Provide your time – why not gift your loved one with the promise of your time, whether it be the promise of helping them move/decorate, going out to the cinema together, having lunch. If you have children then why not create a little coupon book with things such as ‘a day of play’, or ‘mum cooks with me’ etc (I don’t know what kids like).
  • Make your gift – Some of my most treasured possessions are gifts that were handmade, for example the quilt that one of my best friends made for me for my 18th birthday, or the story that the same friend wrote for me one year. Don’t worry if you are not super creative, just putting the thought and time into making your gift will make it all the more meaningful.
  • Re-gift or buy second hand – Re-gifting gets a bad wrap (unintentional pun), but as long as your not giving it back to the person who originally gave it to you then I don’t see what the problem is. If you think that someone else will get more enjoyment and use out of something than you, and as long as it’s in a decent condition why not re-gift it? Also, look in charity and thrift shops for your gifts before buying new, you could find something extraordinary and you’ll be helping a good cause while you’re at it.
  • If you buy, buy local – Finally, buying new gifts should be a last resort in my opinion, but if you’re going to buy new then patronise your local businesses before you give your money to giant multinational corporations. The quality of the gift will often be higher because they have more to lose from shoddy workmanship, and the conditions in which the product is created will often be better because things are normally locally sourced and not from sweatshops.

3. Use this time to think of others

Why not donate your time/money/unneeded items to those less fortunate this holiday season? If you can’t do all three that’s fine but look for things to help out with.

  • Time – volunteer at a soup kitchen, help hand out blankets and food to the homeless, invite a lonely older person to your house for Christmas dinner (there are charities that will put you in touch with people who want that, don’t just pick up a random pensioner off the street). There are plenty of foundations that you can join that really need the extra help (all year round but especially during the cold months).
  • Money – make a donation to a charity, give money to the next homeless person you see (or if you don’t want to give them money then buy them a hot meal). But be vigilant about which charities you support, the Salvation Army will be making the rounds again this holiday season however I will personally never donate to them due to their harmful, anti-LGBT rhetoric and archaic values.
  • Unneeded items – many charities offer donation boxes for the homeless and the poor all around the world, why not check your cupboards for unneeded canned goods, toiletries (seriously sanitary towels etc are a godsend for these things), and even children toys. This is a great time to teach your kids about giving to those less fortunate and about how fortunate they themselves are. My old school used to do a christmas shoebox exchange where each child filled a box with old toys etc which were sent off to children in the third world.

How you can help:

Here are some links to various charities with advice on how you can help out this holiday season.


  • Friends of the Earth and their ‘Bee Saver pack’ – giving you the tools to help save the bees
  • KidsOut and their ‘Giving Tree’ – helping children who have escaped domestic violence
  • Unicef and their ‘Inspired Gifts’ – providing lifesaving supplies to children and communities around the world
  • Savethechildren and their ‘Virtual gifts’ – life changing gifts for children in third world countries
  • Refuge and their ‘Christmas gifts’ – give a christmas present to a woman or child that has escaped domestic violence
  • WWF and their ‘adopt an animal’ – protect an endangered animal and get a cuddly toy
  • Centrepoints and their ‘More than a gift’ – buy a homeless person christmas dinner, a gift, or a bed for the night
  • Impact and their ‘gift tokens’ – help restore a persons health and improve their life through medical funding


  • Crisis at christmas – volunteer to help run one of Crisis’ homeless centres, from cooking to counselling there is plenty that you can do
  • Age UK’s ‘telephone befrienders’ – Age UK are looking for people to have a 30 minute chat with a lonely older person once a week. Seriously just 30 minutes a week.

Unneeded items:

  • Local foodbanks – you can find out what is needed at your local food bank and help take part in the ‘reverse advent calender’ where you donate an item of food everyday in the run up to christmas.

Supporting Those Supporting The Earth

A few weeks ago I went to a christmas fair, mostly it was filled with stalls of handmade gifts, food and experience days. Overall it was a refreshing change from the commercialisation of modern day christmas.

Two stalls that I was particularly pleased to see were Bamboo Clothing and The Woodland Trust.

Bamboo Clothing do exactly as their names suggest, they create warm, outdoor and workout clothes out of bamboo. This includes socks, yoga clothes, shirts, trousers you name it. The great thing about bamboo is that it’s eco-friendly, easy to grow and durable. Bamboo clothing have their own blog page attached to their store which explains more fully the advantages of bamboo.


The Woodland Trust is a British charity that helps to protect our woodlands and has made tremendous bounds in getting ancient trees listed, which gives them the same rights as

listed buildings. In a nutshell it helps to prevent more of our forests from being cut down. The woodland trust also run a blog which is full of informative posts from facts about red squirrels to in depth descriptions of their current campaigns.

I signed up as a member of The Woodland Trust, and as such I was sent a welcome pack which included a leaf identification pack, a copy of their monthly magazine and a booklet containing all of the locations of current Woodland Trust protected areas. Every part of the welcome pack was recyclable and is a great way to inspire people to get back into nature.

A Month of Letting Go

As April approaches, and the urge to spring clean begins, I come to you with a game. A game and a great way for you and your family/friends to reduce the amount of unneeded stuff in your life.

Started by The Minimalists ( I present to you the 30 day minimalism challenge.

How it works

On day one you choose one item to get rid of. It can be anything, jewellery, clothes, technology etc. On day two you choose two items to get rid of and so on and so fourth until you reach the end of the month when on day 30 you chose 30 items to get rid of. If you follow this then by the end of the month you will have gotten rid of 465 items!

Now the minimalists use the stipulation that whatever you pick must be out of the house by midnight on the night you choose to get rid of it. I however will be collecting my choices and disposing of them on the 1st of May, this way I can donate, gift or throw away everything in one go.

My plan of action

What you choose to give up is up to you, i’m planning on going from one side of my bedroom, where I keep the majority of my stuff, to the other. If I then run out of things that I am willing to get rid of I will move into the other areas of my house.

A good way to go about deciding what to get rid of is to ask your self the following questions:

Non season specific items (aka things you use regardless of the weather):

  • Have you used it in the last month?
  • Are you going to use it by the end of the next month?
  • Does it actively improve or enrich your life?

Season specific items (aka summer dresses, winter coats etc.)

  • Did you wear/use it last season?
  • Are you going to wear/use it in the next year?

If the answer to these questions is no then you have to get rid of it.

I think one of the biggest issues for me will be the possibility of getting rid of my ornaments. Logically they don’t really add to my life in any meaningful way, and most of them were bought on a whim some years ago so they also have no sentimental meaning. So for myself I have a stipulation for objects that I don’t physically use e.g. ornaments, and it is this, do I remember when I got it, why I got it or who got it for me? If the answer to these is no then i’m getting rid of it.

I invite you to join me on the 1st of April to start on your month of letting go. Why not comment with your plan of action or what you know you’re going to get rid of? Share photos and tips with each other. Have fun!

Small Habits, Big Changes

So it’s a few days after New Year and i’m visiting a few of my dear friends and saying at one of their houses. Now neither of my friends consider themselves minimalists, and whilst they are both trying to reduce their impact on the environment neither of them are as stringent in their low waste living as me. However for the few days that I stayed with them I noticed some low waste habits that they have without even thinking about it.

The first happened early on in my visit, we were returning from the supermarket having picked up ingredients for dinner (with a reusable shopping bag of course) and we noticed that my friends neighbour had left a small, wooden, wine rack by their bin. The wine rack was in perfect working order and whilst neither of us drinks wine my friend picked it up and said, ‘I can use this’. Up-cycling other peoples unwanted items is a great way to reduce waste and save money, in fact my friend regularly takes in old, unwanted items and reuses them.

The second came once my other friend joined us. The friend who we were staying with pulled out a box of clothes and invited us to rifle through them and take anything we wanted as she didn’t wear them any more. After this visit i’ve now gone home and had another rifle through my closet and plan on offering my friends the same opportunity to get some free clothes before I donate the rest to charity.

Both of my friends also regularly knit and sew, making their own jumpers, adding patches to damaged clothes etc. Which, other than being a fun past time, is another way to both save money and reduce your impact on the world. I myself have used old T-shirts, dresses etc to make pillowcases, shirts etc.

It’s these small habits that can soon enough become second nature that will lead you to a fulfilling low waste life.

The Big Clean Out

As I wrote in one of my older posts I discovered the documentary ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix and it is one of the main things that inspired me to change my lifestyle and also to start this blog. The main thing I discovered whilst trying to reduce my wastefulness and declutter was how wasteful it is at the start. I was filling up bags and bags of rubbish and it almost made me stop short. How can I live low waste if i’m throwing so much away?

Well that’s just it isn’t it, you have to be wasteful initially before you can stop being wasteful. I had to go through what I had with a fine tooth comb and get rid of the things that I don’t need before I could find out what I did need. When you no longer have cupboards, boxes and bags full of crap you don’t need to buy more boxes and bags to fill up with more crap. Now with my low waste, environmental goal in mind I didn’t dump all of my stuff into landfill, what I found was that most of the things I was throwing away were still in really good condition, I had never really needed them so I had never really used them.

I moved back into my mums house after I left university and decided that I needed a tidy-up of my childhood bedroom. Whilst I was tidying I found a massive collection of Sylvanian families that i’d collected as a child, it had been left, forgotten, at the back of one of my cupboards. I tried to think back to the last time i’d played with them and realised that i’d kept these toys for over a decade for no reason what so ever. I told my mum about them and her response was ‘you can’t throw them away, don’t you want to keep them as momentos?’ I realised that that was exactly what I had been doing with most of the things I owned, I’d kept them out of some weird sense of ‘well this made me happy in the past so I can’t throw it away now’. That was the tipping point that triggered a massive clean out operation.

Preparation for the car boot sale.

I collected everything that I no longer wanted but that could still be used into the same storage bags and boxes that they had originally lived in and I had a car boot sale. Just because these things didn’t enrich my life doesn’t mean it can’t enrich someone else’s. What I didn’t sell I donated to charity shops or gifted to friends and family. I gave my Sylvanian families to my younger sister, who played with them more than I had ever done.

Obviously I tend to be quite a sentimental person, and at times I can be a bit of a hoarder, so the trick that i’ve been using to try and make myself stop hoarding things, especially since moving back home is: ‘if I moved house today would I want to take this with me’. If the idea of packing, moving, unpacking, and finding a new place for the item in question doesn’t sound appealing or important to you, you need to get rid of that item.

I now feel, after my big clean-out, that when I do finally move out everything that I own will come with me.