For those who celebrate it, Christmas can be a magical time of year, coming together to enjoy yearly traditions of food, music, decorations and presents. But this all comes at a cost, both to our purses and the planet and the work that goes into making Christmas special often falls disproportionately to women.
As we begin to understand the challenges posed by climate change and the gathering pace of the cost-of-living crisis, we wanted to get back to the true meaning of Christmas and show that it doesn’t have to be all about consumerism and pressure to create the perfect day.
And so, together with our brilliant partners from across Calderdale, we held the first Thriftmas event on Saturday 10th December at Forest Cottage. There was a wide variety of activities on offer as well as advice and free goodies that aimed to give a different perspective on Christmas whilst maintaining the traditions we all know and love.
Did you know that every year, we spend around £700 million on unwanted gifts and that of all gifts, only 1% will still be in use come June?
When it comes to gifts, it really is the thought that counts so we had NHP’s Tracy hosting a Swishing table where people could bring in something they no longer wanted or needed to swap for something they could use or gift. The table was empty at the end of the day.
Natalie from NHP was there to help people make their own bath salts and bath bombs with recycled packaging good enough to gift to emphasise that handmade gifts can be the most thoughtful, waste free and cost-effective gifts out there.
Dan from NHP showed people how to make unique planters from recycled bottles that also make lovely and unique handmade gifts.
Festive food is another area where we could do better to save money and be greener. With supermarkets employing tactics to get us to buy more than we need, its no wonder we collectively bin enough food to provide 42 million meals.
Rachel from NHP made a delicious turkey chilli from leftovers in the slow cooker with the recipe to take away and try at home. There was also a slow cooker to be won by one lucky attendee.
Every year, we send 165,000 tonnes of Christmas decorations to landfill including 68,488 miles of string lights so we wanted to find ways of decorating that would use natural and recycled materials that will also save money. Nicola from Staying Well hosted a table to make cardboard gingerbread decorations. Nicola from Todmorden Makery inspired people to make their own decorations from tech waste and Calderdale Green New Deal were promoting the use of natural and traditional decorating materials like leaves, twigs, and flowers.
Of the one billion Christmas cards sent each year, only 1/4 will be recycled creating 300,000 tonnes of waste. Sara Nursey from Elland Children’s Centre hosted a table where you could use paint and recycled materials to create handmade Christmas cards which are more likely to be kept and cherished than end up in landfill.
Paul Whiteley Photography was there to take beautiful and fun photos in the Christmas themed photo booth which will make lovely personalised and waste free gifts and e-cards.
Similarly, around 40,000 Christmas crackers are sent to landfill each as many are not recyclable with foil, glitter, and a useless piece of plastic. Sam and team from NewGround were on hand to show people how to make their own reusable crackers that are environmentally friendly and where you can choose your own gift that will be useful and reusable.
All One Collective’s Hillary was there to chat to people about how they’re managing with the cost-of-living crisis and how being a little greener can also help save money.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the big man himself – Santa took his place by the beautiful original fireplace to give gifts to all the children who came.
It was a wonderful event, that put a different vibe on Christmas festivities, and we had great feedback from the people who came along. Thanks so much to everyone who was involved organising and hosting and to everyone who came along and participated.
We look forward to doing it all again next year!