Don’t get your tinsel in a twist! Melanie, aged 24, is an Apprentice at Cumbria Wildlife Trust through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) Green Futures project. She is making an eco-friendly Christmas easier than you think.
My top tips for ethical Christmas gifting:
Buy local: this means our products don’t travel so far so they have a smaller carbon footprint. It also supports local businesses; win-win!
Consider the sustainability of the gift: there are so many great sustainable alternatives to consider when choosing a gift. How about a plastic free beauty hamper; a reusable flask; or maybe an experience?
Don’t buy just for the sake of it: some people fall into the trap of ‘more is more’; they buy lots of presents for one person, who then doesn’t use all the gifts. Instead, consider buying one present that the recipient can keep using for years to come. This is usually less expensive and is much more personal (and more appreciated!) Take the time to think about what you want to give.
Make what you can: I make hampers every year, with a personal twist to suit the recipient. For someone who loves caramel, I’ll make millionaire’s shortbread or for someone who prefers nuts, I make them Florentines. You get the idea…
Through the Our Bright Future Green Futures project at YDMT, I am currently doing an apprenticeship. Green Futures has several fantastic opportunities for young people to inspire and empower positive environmental change. The team at YDMT are incredibly enthusiastic and supportive, and there are so many amazing things I’ve had the chance to do.
One of the opportunities YDMT offers is the Youth Environmental Action Fund (YEAF), which provides funding and support for young people to set up and deliver small scale environmental projects. This can be anything that works to improve or enhance the local natural environment, or something that aims to develop environmental awareness in local communities. I applied for funding through the YEAF as I was lucky enough to be approved to run a sustainable Christmas market in Settle in North Yorkshire.
I believe Christmas should be about spending time with family and friends, not about wasteful consumerism. I also believe Christmas is the perfect time of year to support the community, as well as the environment, by buying local. My vision for the Christmas market was to showcase small local businesses who sell sustainable products. I wanted to provide a platform to show the local community the alternatives on offer when considering sustainable Christmas gifts and encourage people to support local businesses.
So many amazing businesses attended with a huge range of fantastic products. There was organic kids clothing; cotton reusables; plastic free beauty products; locally produced gin; homemade Christmas decorations and a local eco-print company, to name a few. We had over 500 visitors and the event was described by one of the visitors as ‘a great festive fair’. I think it’s safe to say that the Christmas market was a huge success!
Planning the event was such a fantastic experience which really challenged me. I found the whole process very rewarding and felt a lot of pride in having organised an event which encouraged more people to shop locally and sustainably. I am very grateful to the YEAF for giving me the opportunity to run my own project! My favourite part of planning the Christmas market was bringing together so many amazing local businesses and seeing them inspire local people to be more sustainable when considering the perfect Christmas gift.