Since becoming an adult, I have never really been a fan of Christmas. So many expectations and pressures seem to be placed on people around giving the biggest, best and most expensive present.
However, several years ago, I made a resolve to try to enjoy the festive season and change my Grinch-like outlook. Starting small, I decided to change what sort of presents I bought.
I do like giving presents, don't get me wrong, but I was always left with this sinking feeling that maybe I was wasting my time and money on things people didn't really need or necessarily want.
What to do and where to start?
My sister always wanted a pig. I was hardly going to punish her poor husband by buying her an actual pig. After a quick search online, I came upon the perfect gift – a pig from Oxfam.
Her pig was gifted to a family in Papua New Guinea and at Christmas she received a card from Oxfam telling her about it.
She loved it! She got her pig and someone that really needed something benefited as well.
Walking around town earlier this month, I was overcome with fear as Christmas trees and decorations started to sprout.
Right, it was time to get organised. Trawling the internet for inspiration, I was surprised how more and more people are thinking about a green Christmas.
From recycling wine bottles to composting food waste, there are many ways to incorporate a little bit of green into the celebrations.
Instead of using new wrapping paper, use the sports section of the newspaper to wrap sports presents, old maps or travel guides for travel presents and brightly coloured organic cotton or bamboo tea towels to wrap kitchen gifts.
Support the planet and your local community by heading to your local farmers' market for fresh, sustainably grown fare for the Christmas table and a raft of eco-friendly foodie gifts.
You could make it a handcrafted Christmas by remaking things from old socks or T-shirts. Search the net to see how with a little imagination and creativity old socks can be made into a new teddy bear, or old T-shirts can become dolls, quilts or bags.
You don't have to be really creative about presents. You just have to give them a bit of thought. Presents to help with learning could include an offer to contribute to or cover the cost of an adult education course or membership of a sports club.
Making home-made "vouchers" to babysit for free, promising an outing to a special place, cooking dinner, or even a massage can be really appreciated.
Another idea is upcycling. Upcycling is basically adding value to any material that was of low value. So instead of using new materials, you are using something that has already been used and injecting new life into it.
So have a great Christmas and enjoy it all the more by putting in a little effort to lessen your impact on the environment.
After all the festivities, if any presents replace an old item that still has some value, why not drop it off at the Nelson Recycle Centre in Vivian Place.
- Going Green is a column by members of the Nelson Environment Centre. Elizabeth Hovell is the office manager.
- © Fairfax NZ News