Do you want a Holiday Season without piles of packaging and bins stacked high with recycling and rubbish? Here are some great ideas for cutting out packaging and making the festivities more sustainable all round. Our mantra is ‘plan ahead and keep it simple’. Focus on what is important, achievable and enjoyable to you.
Check out our list of your local Gloucestershire zero waste shops, farm shops and markets where you can shop plastic free.
- Order your turkey, bacon and ham from a butcher or at the farmers market – ask for plastic free packaging. If you prefer fish, order from your local fishmonger and take your own container.
- Order sprouts and other veg ahead of the festivities from farm shops and market vendors instead of buying prepackaged at the supermarket. Buy a big paper sack of locally grown potatoes to see you through the holidays. Re-useable fabric bags are better than paper bags or biodegradable plastic bags – read here why.
- Make your own sauces, gravy and stuffing instead of buying jars, sachets and ready-mixes.
- Scan the freezer isles for food packaged in cardboard instead of plastic bags. For frozen peas, pastries, fishcakes, veg and fruit, visit the shops that sell loose freezer food by weight (Over Farm, Dobbies, Highfield Garden Centre, some Coops).
- Stock up on dried foods like pasta, rice, nuts, seeds and cereals from any zero waste shop. Take your own fabric bags and containers to save on single-use bags (Loose, Eastington Farm Shop, The Green Shop, Shiny Goodness, Foodloose, The Village Grocer, to name but a few).
- Olive oil, sunflower oil, vinegar and soy sauce refills can be found at the Stroud farmers market and zero waste shops.
- Local milk, cream and yogurt refill places are available around the county. Sainsbury’s sells cream in glass bottles, Loose sells Stroud Micro Dairy yoghurt in big glass jars.
- Buy cheese in your own containers from any supermarket deli, the farmers market or a good cheese shop. Wrap it in beeswax wrap to keep it fresh for longer.
Easy treats to make at home include: sweet and savoury biscuits, crackers, cheese straws, spiced nuts, marinated olives, pop corn, rocky road, roasted almonds and chestnuts. If, like me, you can’t do without the crisps, buy Two Farmers crisps in compostable packaging (Over Farm, Jolly’s, Eastington Farm Shop).
- Consider investing in a soda stream so you can ditch the plastic bottles and save on glass and cans.
- Refills of wine and beer are available locally in Stroud (Stroud Brewery, Stroud Wine Shop)
- Milk & More are an excellent provider for home deliveries of dairy milk, oat milk, orange juice and many other products, plastic-free and refillable. Oat milk is very easy to make at home. Also check out Stroud Micro Dairy.
- Get loose tea and coffee at your local zero waste shop or directly from a local roasting house such as Golden Sheep Coffee.
Sweet treats and stocking fillers
- Visit your local sweet shop for stocking fillers and festive treats – sweets are dispensed in the old fashioned way from large glass jars, weighed and bagged in paper.
- For stocking fillers try toys, games and musical instruments, craft sets, paints and clothing made from natural materials. Introduce your loved ones to plastic-free cosmetics, solid shampoo bars, bamboo straws, beeswax wraps, metal lunch boxes and water bottles, and handmade items from local shops. Avoid bamboo products, read here why.
Christmas cards and Crackers
- Make your own cards or opt for ones that are not packaged in plastic and don’t contain glitter. (Oxfam has a good range of plastic-free cards).
- Avoid the plastic toys in Christmas crackers by making your own or have the kids make simple crowns and write up Christmas cracker jokes.
Ideas for Presents
- Gloucestershire abounds in Christmas fairs and markets where you can find local artists and makers offering their wares, including Christmas decorations.
- Support local shops rather than ordering online. We have excellent village shops in the county many of whom sell things made by local people.
- Your local bookshops need your support. We also recommend local publisher Hawthorn Press for a range of thoughtful books including children’s books, crafting and darning, and our own ‘Small Steps to Less Waste’ of course!
- Magazine subscriptions – something not wrapped in plastic and uplifting to read, for example ‘Positive News’.
- Second-hand presents from charity shops: books, games, puzzles, picture frames for photographs, kitchen utensils, wine glasses, pretty crockery. Oftentimes, items are still brand new and unused, including many electrical gadgets and items.
- Promises, like a special trip out, offers of help like clearing the shed or cooking a special meal.
- Homemade presents are of course an utter delight if you have the time to make these. This could be anything from a jar of preserves you have made to small sewing projects (fabric shopping bags!) or putting together herb tea mixes, making a batch of lip balm, infused cooking oils, art projects… the scope is endless.
Most wrapping paper contains plastic and is not recyclable. Get a roll of ordinary brown packing paper instead and draw patterns on it or use decorative stamps. For a reusable alternative, use scarves or fabric off-cuts. The Greenshop in Bisley sells pretty recycled Sari squares for wrapping presents. Raffia, wool and cotton string are good alternatives to synthetic ribbon.
Cleaning products and sundries like Tea lights, candles and batteries
- Refill your cleaning products at most zero waste stores. Simply take your old plastic bottles along to the store to be refilled. They do personal care products too of course!
- Stock up on plastic-free cleaning products from a hardware store – such as bicarbonate of soda, citric acid, beeswax polish, cotton cloths and more.
- Opt for dishwasher tablets and washing powder in cardboard boxes.
- Line your compost bins with old newspaper or use compostable liners, but avoid biodegradable bags – read here why.
- Try a hardware store for unpackaged candles and tea lights in cardboard boxes without plastic packaging
- Look for batteries in cardboard boxes, usually sold in multi-packs.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to take care of your waste and recycling. Many more things can be recycled these days then just the items allowed in your council recycling box. See our page for other recycling schemes and collection points
Photo by Lydia Matzal on Unsplash