Switzerland generates the most waste per person in all of Europe, and this spirit of excessive consumption can creep in during the festive period when we are busy running around getting presents for our friends and family and preparing lots of delicious food! Some mindfulness around the holiday season can make it more about the people we love rather than stuff! Here are our top tips for an environmentally-friendly winter break:
- Spend some quality family time making things together, for example your own reusable wreaths and natural decorations.
- Make your own gifts – chocolate, preserves and biscuits make lovely gifts or get creative and paint a beautiful picture for the ones you love!
- Mend or repurpose old clothes – make a beanie out of an old jumper and gift it!
- Turn the heating down and wrap up warm. Invest in some good quality, ethically-sourced wool and cashmere and snuggle under some beautiful blankets. It’s better for your health as well as for the environment!
- Turn the lights off when you’re not there and if using fairy lights, keep them on a timer. Enjoy candlelit evenings but make sure they’re long-lasting eco candles.
- Walk, cycle, lift-share or take public transport as much as possible.
- Avoid using cellophane to cover food: instead, invest in reusable ‘Honey wraps’.
- Invest in reusable baking sheets for all those delicious Christmas cookies!
- Remember your reusable bags to go shopping.
- Sort out your larder/pantry so you can shop smarter and buy in bulk to minimise packaging. You can find a list of local stores on https://zerowasteswitzerland.ch/en/zws-map/
- Wrapping paper cannot be recycled because of the glossy nature (paper + plastic). We recommend going for brown paper tied with string, and decorated with sprigs of holly. You can also wrap presents using scarves with the furoshiki method.
- Offer presents that won’t break down or end in the bin a few years down the line – for example a cooking lesson, a trip to the movies or an afternoon of skating.
- Pay it forward – give gifts that help others, like from Oxfam’s Unwrapped where you can gift things like literacy classes or clean water for a community in need.
- Look into some plant-based recipes to experiment and try something new as a family – we recommend experimenting with vegan sugar cookies!
- Avoid food waste by repurposing leftovers into delicious recipes that make the Christmas season last even longer.
Sophie Bayliss is a parent of two children at La Chât Secondary. Having children has made her acutely aware of climate change and the future that our children face and believes that it’s up to parents to create a platform for positive change. She has created ‘Sophie’s World’ as a place to learn and share ideas on how to make changes in lifestyle habits for the good of the environment. Sophie hosts coffee talks on environmental issues, runs workshops and writes a blog (www.sophiesworld.site). She is also running a green Christmas market on the 22ndand 23rdat the Founex Tennis Club from 9-3 and 9-1 on Friday.
Alexis McGivern is an alumna of La Chat (Class of 2011) and works at the Gallifrey Foundation, a small Swiss philanthropic foundation focusing on marine conservation projects. She has been seconded to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Global Marine and Polar Programme since 2015. She lives a low-plastic lifestyle, sharing top tips through her blog and locally run workshops. You can find more information at https://noplasticplease.life/