Looking to be greener and less wasteful this Christmas? Even the Queen is said to reuse wrapping paper and ribbons, so there are many things we can all do…. Here’s a whole range of ideas from very small to much bigger.
~ Decorations ~
Use what you already have!
Already have an artificial tree? Use it as long as possible!
If you do need a few more bits, ask your family if they have spares, check out the charity shops and buy second-hand, or make your own…
Create your own decorations
**Start now** save your waste paper, cans, jars, loo rolls and cardboard now to use for your creations!
Look in charity shops and your local scrapstore (Orinoco in Oxford) for more resources.
There are lots of ideas online, here is one selection.
Make your own advent calendar or invest in a re-usable one
Make something unique! You may be surprised just how many ways you can make one – recycle some old card, coloured envelopes, wood or fabric – some ideas here.
~ Buying Gifts ~
Get what they need
**Start now** find out what your family and friends really need!
Consider gift vouchers or cash so you don’t give gifts that go to waste.
Quality over quantity
Resist the plastic stocking-fillers and multiple cheap gifts – try to focus your spending into fewer, higher-quality items that will last.
For kids who have everything – try a “one-gift” policy, or a family “Secret Santa” buying one thing each.
Not very crafty? Try home made things from your kitchen: jams and marmalade, sauces and dips, pesto, oils with added herbs, vegan parmesan, baking mixes, chocolate, or home-made cosmetics.
Try swapping things you no longer need for things you do with friends, neighbours, or at a community swap shop such as this one for children’s toys and books in Florence Park, 1st Dec.
Gift zero-waste to inspire your friends
Re-usable cups and water bottles, bars of soap and shampoo, cleaning products, plant cuttings… You can even support environmental charities when you buy them e.g. Surfers Against Sewage.
Avoid “things” altogether – gift experiences instead
Your loved ones might appreciate theatre tickets, arts or cookery courses, repair courses, getting out into nature, or other experiences. There are lots of options in Oxford.
Consider sponsorship for a tree or animal via environmental charities.
Avoid excessive packaging – you could pack smaller items into your own reusable or recycled wrapping – selection boxes are a great example.
Support environmental charities – e.g. Sustrans sell lots of cycling items in their online store.
**Start now** Think about what you really need and let your friends and family know – they’ll appreciate the ideas, and you’ll get less of things you didn’t need!
Don’t need/want anything? Request “no gifts”
Tell people you’re trying to be greener!
You could ask for donations to a good cause as an alternative.
~ Wrapping ~
Invest in some fabric for family gifts – tie it with string, ribbons or rubber bands (or tie it up as a furoshiki), and re-use it year after year.
Heather says…. My mum made lots of different sized pieces and all our presents would be wrapped in material and held together with ribbons, rubber bands and safety pins (all re-usable!) It is the only Christmas wrapping that I remember having!
Freya says… I sewed bags for presents some years ago and my friends are still using them, for example, as sponge bag, or as produce bags for zero-waste shopping.
Save brown paper bags, newspapers, magazines and calendars
Newspaper picture pages make particularly good eco-wrapping, but any pages will do!
Spruce it up with some foraged items
Prepare for next year
Keep those pretty cards to make gift tags, advent calendars and other decorations
Save your used wrapping paper instead of throwing it away – use it for decorations next year or just use it again (no one will even notice!)
~ Tableware ~
Use the tableware you already have
Think before you buy those tempting Christmas plates, tea towels, table covers that will sit in the cupboard for 11 months of the year.
Consider renting if you need extra glasses/tableware
Avoid single-use plastic for your large gatherings
“Don’t forget that the invertebrates that keep your garden healthy need somewhere to shelter for the winter. But they surely don’t need all those leaves that have fallen on the paths, lawns, patios. So if you need the kit to sweep them up, you could borrow one or other of our leaf-blowers. Or you could even go back to basics with one of our rakes. But either way, leave some leaf litter for the creepy-crawlies, do.”
As you’ll know if you’re a regular borrower, we moved into our new, larger space in Makespace a couple of months ago. This has increased our storage space to expand our collection, and given us more comfortable work space, and we’re settling in nicely.
Our new neighbour, using our old space, is Paint Buzz, run by Mary Zacaroli. They’ll be opening at the same times as the Library, so next time you’re nearby, why not drop in and say hello to us both!
Like our repair cafes, Paint Buzz can also help you reduce waste: bring new life to some tired old furniture with their upcycling workshops, run for individuals and organisations. They are also selling Frenchic eco-friendly furniture paint and finishes to help you upcycle.
Maurice, Alex and Heather attended the first gathering for
established tool libraries and libraries of things in the UK – ShareFest 2019.
We had a great day meeting people from every corner of the UK and sharing our
ideas and experiences about how we work in our communities to bring people
together to promote sharing, reduce waste, and save money.
Here’s our three takeaways from the day:
There’s no right or wrong way to run a Library of Things – we all have different business models, locations, software, promotions, staffing arrangements – but we are all joined by a common passion for promoting a sharing economy and reducing waste in our communities.
The people who work in Libraries of Things are passionate, interesting and come from many different backgrounds – there was a real diversity of skills and backgrounds but a united passion and enthusiasm. And after a name game – we all demonstrated our impressive memory and learnt each others’ names without name tags!
We have great optimism for what the movement of Library of Things could grow into – we are just the start – the first 11 libraries that could soon be just some of hundreds!
The other libraries are both just like us, and so different as well and we look forward to working with the other eleven libraries from:
A huge thank you to the London Library of Things for hosting, to B&Q for sponsoring the event (and bringing all the libraries a £100 voucher to spend – we look forward to thinking about what we’ll use this for!), to Eden Project Communities for being our Network partner and facilitating the day for us, and to Neal from Belfast Tool Library for capturing some great photos of the day.
We look forward to keeping in touch, developing the next
steps together, and growing our movement!
the leaves change colour, the mornings get a little crisper, and the days a
little shorter – we’ve put together a list of 10 things to do to make the most
of the season:
Go apple picking – why not borrow our extendable apple picker (£5/week) to help? It means you’ll get the nicest and juiciest apples right at the top of the trees. As for where to find the apples? Check out the Oxford Wild Food Map.
Make some pumpkin soup – October is filled with pumpkins, but don’t just carve your pumpkins – eat them! Good Food Oxford is running a Pumpkin Festival from 26 October to 3 November. Visit their website to get some great recipes and find an event near you.
Plant some bulbs to enjoy next Spring – gardening teaches such patience, but imagine how lovely it will be when your bulbs emerge after the cold winter. RHS has some handy advice about planting bulbs and pop past the Library to borrow a garden fork or hoe (£3/week each)
Make some warm spiced cideror juice– nothing signals the start of the cooler months than warm spiced drinks. Simmer some up and get the house smelling like Autumn. You could borrow our big pot (£5/week) if you’ve invited friends around to enjoy as well!
Bake a pie – have some spare apples, or some pumpkin, or how about some tasty berries? Autumn is perfect pie weather so spend an afternoon in the kitchen becoming a master pie baker. BBC Food has you covered for some recipes, and we’ve got the baking beads (£1.50/week) for blind baking (Never heard of them, or don’t know how to use them? You’ve got an afternoon of learning ahead!)
Learn something new at a museum – a great place to spend a rainy day! There are plenty of great museums in Oxford, or if you want to do some at home discovery you could borrow a telescope (£15/week) to see the stars, or a microscope (£12/week) to get a closer look.
Visit the Arboretum – and marvel at the coloured leaves. You could get a double dose of Autumn and go on 12 October for the Arboretum Autumn Fair.
Fix up broken items – dust off those things that have seen better days and see what you can do to get it functional again! There is plenty of advice on google, or bring it to the experts at the next Share Oxford Repair Café on 3 November.
Watch an educational documentary – there are some screenings like ‘Waste! The Story of Food Waste’ at Tap Social on 8 October, or if you’re more of a Netflix at home person – you could check out “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” or the stunning “Blue Planet II”
So get on out and make the most of Autumn – winter will be here before you know
it bringing with it the madness of the festive season!
Freya says: “October is a beautiful month of autumnal colours and first frosts. Crisp, blue-sky days are the perfect time to tidy up and cut back in the garden.
Why not borrow one of our garden shredders to help you turn that great pile of twigs, leaves, hedge cuttings, etc. to a manageable bulk for you compost bin or heap. Your garden will be spotless in no time.”
Maurice says: “So many apples and pears are just out of reach and you have to pick them off the floor after they have been bruised by gravity. Or climb the tree, but don’t lean out too far. Or climb an unsteady ladder.
Instead, you could borrow our extendable fruit picker which will give you that extra reach to get your produce down safe and unharmed. Your friends and neighbours will be delighted at what you can then share with them.”