Zero waste gift wrapping, buying an ethical jumper and parlour games!

Gift Wrapping

So you may be wondering why we include gift wrapping in our ethical december blogs. Well, every year masses of wrapping paper, card, gift bags, tags, bows etc. are brought, used once then thrown away and the majority of this won’t or can’t be recycled so we felt this was an issue worth discussing and offering some solutions to.

This is Holly writing this one and I can tell you that I have not bought a single card or anything to wrap gifts in for the last 2 years (not a boast, just an example of how easy this can be), but before we get to how I mange to recycle things to use I want to tell you why I made this choice.

So cards

For a start even the idea of sending Xmas, birthday, or any other celebration cards to be thrown away is extremely wasteful' but did you know at Christmas in the UK alone we throw away around 1 Billion cards? This is shocking and after all do we really need to send them? With modern day technology I personally choose to send out a Xmas email, Facebook messages or texts, and I actually even one year drew a picture using Microsoft Paint which I then sent out with my Xmas messages to make it a little more personal.

If you do still want to send out a card, then why not go for a design that can be framed and not just thrown? Its also a great way to support indipendant artists!

Want to go one step further?

I’ve seen some of my Facebook friends doing this the last 2 years, the money we would normally spend on Xmas or festive cards you can donate it to a charity. You can also then go on to explain to people why you don’t send cards and ask them politely in return to not send you cards. That way you’re not just reducing your waste but reducing what other people are sending out too.

Gift wrap and bags

Gift wrapping and bags can be slightly more tricky when you first start out, but now that I’ve been doing this for 2 years I have a drawer in my bedroom where I have collected tissue paper, gift bags (that people have given me), any sturdy card shopping bags (like the ones often given out in jewellery shops) and magazines.

The first year I decided I was not buying any wrapping things I decided to make my own paper, I had a collection of Vegan magazines and I simply took pages of a similar colour so all pastel pink or all white with black text for example and taped them together to make sheets of wrapping paper. I was really impressed with the overall effect and I now use this method to cover small cardboard shopping bags to up-cycle my own gift bags.

Of course once you have a collection of bits it becomes easier because you can use tissue paper that you perhaps received something in, of re use a gift bag etc., another idea I’ve seen is you can buy someone a scarf as a gift and wrap any other gifts in the scarf.

JO SPEAKING HERE

– I’d never considered the huge waste of wrapping paper that occurs every birthday and Christmas, until I spent one Christmas at a friend’s house and witnessed their simple, yet elegant and effective, wrapping solution. They haven’t used a scrap of wrapping paper since about 1971!

Instead of a cupboard of cards, stationary and wrapping paper, their house contains a box stuffed full of gorgeous fabrics accumulated through their lifetime. This includes chequered tea-towels, an old sari, unwanted summer shawls, pocket handkerchiefs…and hundreds of ribbons of all shapes and sizes. They use all these to wrap up their presents for each other. It took me a few goes to learn how to neatly tie up a present with a ribbon, but the end effect is completely gorgeous.

It inspired me to start my own fabric collection with a bee-patterned bath-bomb wrap (from Lush) and a wad of fat-quarters from my local Haberdashery shop, and have never looked back since. I always get complimented on how lovely my gifts look, and it makes present giving just that extra bit more special. The only awkward moment is asking for my fabrics back when they have finished unwrapping! Though if letting them keep the material would inspire them to start a wrapping material collection of their own, then I would gladly let them have it.

Be it a gift, or for yourself most of us like to own a warm cosy jumper for the cold months, but when we look in the shop windows and decide on our pattern, be it a snow man or a carton of soy saying “soy to the world” just how ethical are our jumpers?

There are a few dark corners of the jumper world that its always good to be aware of, the main one being that most are part of the fast fashion industry. Just earlier this year I watched The True Cost on Netflix, which really brought to light the issues with fast fashion.

Fast fashion is the concept that fashion is so cheap that we can afford to buy an outfit not just every season, but every month and with prices of clothes in shops being so low that we have to wonder how they are doing this?

So how can we make sure when buying our winter jumpers that we are making the most ethical choices?

I would recommend looking online specifically for companies who guarantee ethical labour, or maybe individuals who hand-make jumpers, there are a few other aspects we can take into consideration such as clothes that are made from organic materials and carbon neutral clothing.

So I’ve put together a few shops, jumpers and searches to give you some ideas for the chilly season.

One of my favourite go to shops for ethical clothing is the Ethical Superstore (I know I have mentioned this store in more than one blog now but never mind.) From cosy coats and jumpers to those nice thick winter socks, they have a basic range of colours to keep you warm.

If you’re looking for cute jumpers for the little tots then I found this site, Ethical Market that does ethical kids clothes.

If you did want to find somewhere on the high street, H&M do a conscious range, and when in their stores this can be found by looking for the green labels and is also online .

Another great place I found lots of nice handmade jumpers is Etsy, an online market place where you can find independant stores and gift ideas made my individuals.

For the ultimate ethical jumper

Why not try making your own? You’ll be able to make it to your exact size and design specifications, and will end up with something you’ll be able to treasure for a long time, You could also try making it from vegan friendly yarn such as hemp or bamboo wool (acrylic yarn is vegan friendly but it is made from plastic so natural alternative are more enviormentally friendly).

If you do want to make your own you can even go one step further and source your yarn from charity shops therefore giving new life to a pre loved items, supporting a charity and making a gift that is homemade.

Remember parlour games?

These are terrific for playing with friends and the board games can usually be bought off eBay second hand – or check charity shops. There’s time for Christmas TV but to have a proper family or friends get together, you can’t beat games.

Here are our top four favourite Christmas games, best played with a lovely bottle of wine or perhaps a big box of Booja-Booja truffles:

1. Articulate

This one works with a spinner and you move around the board as you get points. You get a word – from categories of Object, Nature, Random, Person, Action and World – and you have to describe it using actions to the other members of your team. You’re on a timer too, it gets loud, especially with alcohol!

2. Balderdash

This is properly silly. You have to come up with fake answers to questions and see if anyone believes you. After a while you start to get into people’s style (one of my family members always tries to involve sheep in their answers?) – worrying when people you love are utterly convincing at making up plausible sounding stuff!

3. Wink Murder

Anyone else remember playing this when they were a kid? The murderer covertly winks at the other players who fall over dead (making sound effects, obvs). The ‘detective’ has to catch the murderer. When you get to three people left alive the detective must use logic and reason to catch the murderer…intriguing watson.

4. Our Special Christmas Arjuna Game

For this game you need a few Arjunites up in the back office. You all try to do different important Christmas tasks at once, speaking encouragingly out loud to one another. One person should be using a spreadsheet with complex formulae to check. One person should be counting and bagging coins, saying lots of numbers out loud. Another person should be singing some Taylor Swift and another something more like Bob Dylan. The person who manages to complete the Suma Christmas order without killing the other Arjunites wins.

As always I hope you have enjoyed reading our blog! and please do let us know what your favourite board game is to inspire others!