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Paper decorations adorning The Coffee Lounge, on Tregenna Hill, St Ives

by Emma Fashokun, manager of The Coffee Lounge

Christmas is a time for giving — and of course, giving means buying. If you’re going to be lucky enough to spend Christmas in our lovely town, either as a resident or visitor, we have five ways that can help you to be plastic free during the festive season.

It all starts with a card. We’ve been sending Christmas cards in this country since the 1840s. Of course, 180 years ago Christmas cards were made from printed paper, without any of the decoration and plastic sleeves that we see today. Stay plastic free by making your own cards — even more sustainable if you recycle materials. If you’re not crafty, think about supporting local Cornish artists by buying theirs. Lots are good enough to frame, so your card can become a present!

Every year, Brits send more than 100 million rolls of wrapping paper to landfill. Most Christmas gift wrap is not recyclable due to glitter, foil, or being laminated. Do your bit this Christmas by avoiding plastic-wrapped rolls of glittery gift wrap and embracing a new approach. Re-use newspaper, magazine pages, or gift bags you’ve received — embellish with Christmas-themed ink stamps and paper raffia ribbon. Wrap your small gifts in an attractive headscarf, or fill a fabric stocking that can be used year after year. Or you could save some money and the environment by simply layering tissue paper and securing with fabric ribbon.

Reduce your Christmas carbon footprint and support the local economy

For most families, decorating their home for Christmas is an important seasonal tradition. Your house and tree don’t have to be laden with plastic to look beautiful. Why not make paper chains with the youngsters, or tissue paper pompoms (also available to buy)? Rather than purchasing a collection of new baubles every year, choose a special few and retain them year on year to build a collection that will have meaning and memories attached.

We all want our gifts to be meaningful, but inevitably tight budgets tempt us into filling the gaps under the tree with cheap plastic imports. Look for more sustainable alternatives in local Christmas markets and independent shops. Reduce your Christmas carbon footprint and support the local economy by leaving the array of colourful plastic on the shelf so that it doesn’t end up in your bin before next Christmas.

A packaging revolution has taken place in recent years. Once toys and other gifts arrived in cardboard boxes. Now, they are often encased in a single-use plastic shell. Try to avoid items that are heavily packaged in this way, and let’s pressurise manufacturers to turn back the clock! Of course, we all want to enjoy Christmas and we can’t avoid all plastic, but every piece of single-use plastic that we say no to is a step in the right direction.

Tread lightly on our planet this Christmas.