Monday, December 12, 2016

How to celebrate Eco Friendly Christmas?

I Started this year 2016, with green resolution of going as much plastic free and attempting less waste lifestyle to ultimately reach zero waste. I am glad that I could continue to follow through my green resolution an entire year. So what can be a better way to end this year with celebration of an Eco-friendly, Plastic Free and Zero Waste Christmas! Here are my tips on Green Christmas celebration.

Eco friendly Christmas Tree, Ornaments and Decorations

Every year people around the world discuss the question of which is better, a fake or a real Christmas tree? If you are in the region where these trees are easily available then it's easier to avoid fake plastic trees. But it's very unsustainable to transport real Christmas tree to long distances. In case of Dubai, that will be half way across the globe, so the real trees are completely unsustainable here! So people prefer using plastic trees and reuse it over the years.

But I have a different opinion about tradition of Christmas tree. As for Dubai, a cultural melting pot; expats from all over the world living in UAE embrace festivity of all cultures and religions. Since years our family too is celebrating all festivities and it's so beautiful to experience! Then why not to go a step further and let's take the tradition and make it more practical, more intellectual and more Eco friendly? Why not to add a local flavor to the festivity, to make the celebrations more sustainable? If you have a garden then why not to plant saline tolerant plants like local Ghaf tree and decorate it for Christmas?

Here is my story of Christmas tree, 3 years back, after my son was born I bought a fake plastic Christmas tree and we are reusing it since then but this time I decided not to use it anymore and go completely plastic free and zero waste. I am going to donate our fake Christmas tree to some charity. But meanwhile, I found our sustainable Christmas tree during a hike!

While the thought of Eco friendly Christmas was on the back of my mind, first week of December we been to our favorite Hajar mountains in Oman. During a small family hike and nature trail, I found this trunk of native tree lying on the mountain and I couldn't resist to pick it up. This must be a largest natural collectible I had picked until now! So my husband obviously asked me do I really need to carry it all the way to Dubai? I told him, imagine this as our Christmas tree! He immediately loved the idea!

So this is our Green Christmas tree which is not literally green at all, but that's how it is supposed to be in Arabian desert isn't it?
Eco friendly Christmas Tree
We even made ornaments and decorations out of natural treasures like twigs and feathers, shells which we collect during our outdoor walks in UAE. Read how to make these easy DIY Eco friendly Christmas ornaments. The Santa next to our Christmas tree is made by my son in school out of toilet roll cardboard.
Eco Christmas tree with Eco ornamnets

If you can't find time to DIY decorations, reusing your old, memorable Christmas ornaments and decorations is sustainable too, you just need to store them safely to avoid any breakage. You can even re-purpose old ornaments to create a new out of it with little bit of DIY.

Here are some more DIY ideas from some blogger friends to make your Christmas earth-friendly.

Shea from Conversation with my sister made this beautiful natural Christmas decor out of a dried branch of tree!

Harkee from As They Grow made this very easy and convenient alternate Christmas tree on her fridge with washitape.

Or if you want your kids to get involved in Christmas craft actively you can make these kids crafts.
Laura from Life with baby kicks made with her young children these cute salt dough ornaments.

You can borrow idea from Tarana's Sand in My Toes and ask your older kids to make their own Christmas ornaments and decor.

Eco-friendly Christmas Gift Ideas

When in UAE, I know it's very difficult to resist shopping for Christmas gifts. There are so many sale everywhere but don't forget, less is more! When you have such beautiful weather outside, you can't just spend hours doing mall hopping. When there was black Friday sale last month, we preferred to avoid malls completely and spent time outdoors. On National day long weekend when there was up to 90% sale in malls of Dubai, we spent our long weekend in Mountains. Because that's what we should do with our families during weekend and holidays. Our loved ones and specially kids need gift of our time, well spent with them! They will hardly remember what gift they got when they were 6, but the memories we create together will last forever.

Plus you can not support fast fashion under the name of Christmas, can you? Every time I see millions of cloths scattered in shops, during sale; I remember those poor people working in inhuman condition, on extremely low wedges to produce this fast fashion, which you buy because it's dirt cheap. By doing so we support that vicious cycle of fast fashion. Let's think differently.

But there are some great ways of buying gifts for Christmas, I am sure you can use these ideas guilt free. Just don't forget to take your own reusable shopping bags with you.

 1. Gift of Life

Plants are my favorite gifts, I have been gifting plants to my friends since I am in school. Not just because I love plants but growing up with a plant gifted to us feels such an awesome idea! Plus gardening is great way of relaxing and rejuvenating. You can even gift potted herbs which can be used in food preparation! It's a great gift for all age groups but please make sure to inquire caring instructions in nursery from where you are buying a plant and don't forget to pass it on that information to it's new owner! I have written the plant caring instructions on a label attached to the plant in this photo. When you are gifting a plant, you are giving gift of life plus you never know you might be converting someone into a plant lover!
Gift a Plant

2. Local Handmade or Artisan Gifts

If you want to give sustainable and Eco-friendly gifts to your family and friends give first preference to local homegrown artisan community. Buying things which are made in far off countries is not very good idea, don't burden your gift receiver with ecological and carbon footprint please. Luckily we have a great variety of such handmade homegrown gifts, you can either find them at Arte market or Ripe market happening regularly in different parts of Dubai

3. Gift Vouchers

These are my new favorites. Choosing a right and useful gift for anyone is not an easy task and if you go wrong by any chance the gift goes waste. Sadly I have seen few people leaving the gifts unused in their wardrobes or cabinets. Such a loss of resources used for making those unwanted gifts! But Gift vouchers is a great solution if you are not sure about which could be a best Christmas gift and it is very convenient way of gifting too. The receiver can anytime shop according to their own choice and the gift is never wasted this way. I prefer giving gift voucher of a mall instead of a specific shop or brand. You can also find many gift vouchers for online shopping. Plus gifting an experience through voucher is better gift than gifting things. Things have end of life cycle but memories stay forever!

Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

Also remember gift wrapping can be done in Eco friendly way. You can use news papers for gift wrapping. You can also save gift wrapping papers, bows, gift bags and boxes from the gifts you receive, like me and reuse them when you are giving someone gifts. Who said those beautiful gift wrapping items are single use? Another great idea of gift wrapping is using reusable bags instead of those glossy paper bags or boxes. You can always add a note to remind them to use the bag for shopping. You can even gift wrap your present in a nice scarf or fabric which has some use. No one will ever throw your gift wrapping rather this fabric gift wrapping can be an added gift!
It is really easy to gift wrap in fabric, for the one in picture you need a square fabric. You can find many easy tutorials on you tube about fabric gift wrapping. This is my most favorite plastic free, paper less, zero-waste gift wrapping tip!
Eco Friendly Present Wrapping
Hope these ideas will help you to celebrate your Christmas guilt-free! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Easy DIY Eco Friendly Christmas Ornaments

While walking in garden yesterday my son started picking some fallen twigs, we even found few molted feathers! After coming home we kept our natural treasures in the dedicated basket, now we have a really good collection of natural collectibles you can find in UAE. It suddenly struck me how about creating our own Christmas decoration this year? When I asked my son, he jumped and said yes! So we decided to make a star for our Earth-friendly Christmas tree, an angel and a snowflake! My son was totally excited about snowflake, because his class in his school is snowflakes!
Eco Christmas Ornaments- Star, Snowflake and Angel

What material you need?

For this very easy Eco DIY all you need is some twigs, jute yarn, feathers, shells and your imagination! It is not as easy for younger children, but it's better to involve them and let them make their own decoration, great activity to develop their fine motor skills.
Twigs and Jute Yarn
Molted Feathers


First I sorted twigs and branches. You need to cut the twigs to make it similar length for star and cut the branches for equal size for snowflake. But don't worry if you can't make them all of same size, your Christmas decor will still look beautiful and rustic! I mostly could cut them with hand, as they were all dried twigs.

For star make two triangles by tying twigs together and then tie the two triangles in shape of a star. 
For snowflake you can tie two branches together on opposite sides and then tie these joined two branches with other set to make a cross. I just inserted feathers in the tied jute yarn of the snowflake. 
Twig  Snowflake and Star

For shell and feather angel, I made a small hole on hinge of the shell. After tying all feathers separately, close to each other on same jute yarn, insert that yarn into this hole and tied it that's it. The angel for our Christmas tree is ready.
Shell and Feather Angel
I am really happy with my plastic free, handmade with natural materials; Eco-friendly Christmas ornaments! Keep checking the new post to see our Eco-friendly Christmas tree!

My son attempted to make his own snowflake with small twigs!