I’m Dreaming Of An Eco-Friendly Christmas

Just like one before the 1920s, 
Where the trees are real and plastic free,
And I see no rubbish in the snow...

Did you know that Christmas didn’t become the commercialised mass production of consumer items we know today until the mid-1920s.

It was the beverage company Coca-Cola who created the image of the jolly chubby Santa we all know and love.

Yep, that’s right. Coca-Cola was the first big business to commercialise Christmas.

By the 1930s, Coca-Cola had made Santa famous through their successful Christmas advertising promotion. Every year, consumers would eagerly await the new Coca-Cola Santa advert to see what had changed.

Santa drinking from a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Of course, Santa always had a drink of Coca-Cola

Then in 1974, KFC jumped on the Christmas bandwagon and successfully convinced the Japanese to have a KFC Christmas.

Today, 3.6 million Japanese people eat KFC as their ‘traditional’ Christmas meal.

KFC Christmas

To add to mass consumerism, we have the additional problem of the popularity of polluting plastic products.

Christmas trees and decorations are made from plastic. Wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. Christmas crackers are throw away single use items. Christmas stockings are filled with cheap disposable bits and pieces. Crockery, cutlery, table decorations, gifts, toys…you name it, it more than likely contains plastic.

Plastic Christmas trees
Plastic Christmas trees
Plastic Christmas decorations
Plastic Christmas decorations
Plastic Christmas bowls and plates
Plastic Christmas bowls and plates

Everywhere you look Christmas screams ‘have the gift of destruction’.

Sustainable Living

Clever marketing has us convinced to spend as much money as possible on Christmas.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can wake up to what is happening and make decisions that are good for our families and the environment.

Don’t let this Christmas become another financial and environmental nightmare.

Read on to find out about the benefits of having a 1920s Christmas.

Christmas Trees and Decorations

Back in the 1920s Christmas trees were real trees, not the plastic monstrosities that are common today. The problem with plastic is that it breaks down into microplastics which are bad for your health.

The most eco-friendly Christmas option is to purchase a living tree in a pot and care for it year after year. If you buy your tree from a young enough age it will last a very long time with care.

Wouldn’t it be good if we bragged about how many years we’ve had a living tree for, rather than social media photos of enormous plastic trees covered in plastic decorations.

Imagine if status was defined by being eco-friendly, instead of a competition of who spent the most money being a consumer.

Before plastic took over the world, Christmas trees were decorated with:

  • stringed popcorn
  • homemade paper chains
  • red and green ropes
  • decorations made from wood or cotton
  • snowflake cut outs
  • a few prized glass ornaments
Eco-friendly Christmas decorations
Eco-friendly Christmas decorations

If you currently have a plastic Christmas tree and plastic decorations and no longer want to use them, unfortunately there are no easy answers.

We donated ours to the opportunity (thrift) shop yet realise it’s just passing the plastic problem on to someone else. Although, it seemed a better option than sending all that plastic to landfill…

If you can figure out the answer of what to do with an unwanted plastic Christmas tree and the plastic decorations dilemma, please let us know.

Wrapping Paper

Most people don’t realise that nearly all gift wrapping papers are not recyclable.

Gift wrapping paper could be laminated, metallic, textured or contain glitter, gold or silver colourings, plastics or have sticky tape on it. All these reasons make wrapping paper only worthy of the landfill bill.

An all too common sight of excessive Christmas consumerism
An all too common sight of excessive Christmas consumerism

It wasn’t until later in the 1920s that the gift wrapping papers we are familiar with first made an appearance.

Prior to that Christmas gifts were wrapped in simple white, green or red tissue paper and tied with twine.

Sticky tape wasn’t invented until 1930.

Tissue paper and twine gift wrapping (no sticky tape)
Tissue paper and twine gift wrapping (no sticky tape)

For an even more eco-friendly gift wrapping option, consider using Furoshiki – the ancient Japanese art of gift wrapping with reusable fabric.

Christmas Crackers

Ah, temporary fun and plastic trinkets that will pollute the next 16 generations. What a cracker of an idea.

Polluting single use Christmas crackers
Polluting single use Christmas crackers

If you can’t do without this single use item, consider making your own and filling them with eco-friendly gifts and carefully selected jokes handwritten in pencil, of course.

You could make or buy seed paper for DIY Christmas crackers (seed paper is paper with seeds embedded which can then be planted).

Or you can even buy reusable Christmas crackers (this was a surprise to me).

Christmas Stockings

I’ve been guilty of buying pre-packaged plastic stockings for my children. You know those large plastic ‘socks’ filled with individually plastic wrapped chocolates and lollies.

Single use plastic stocking filled with plastic wrapped confectionary
Single use plastic stocking filled with plastic wrapped confectionary

Plastic stockings no more!

Back in the 1920s, Christmas stockings were actually real stockings or socks temporarily borrowed on Christmas Eve.

Christmas socks in 1950
Christmas socks in 1950

If you’re not keen on the idea of shoving food in your sock, a purposely made reusable Christmas fabric stocking is a great alternative.

Reusable fabric Christmas stocking
Reusable fabric Christmas stocking

Common 1920s stocking fillers included:

  • Fruit such as a red apple and an orange
  • Walnuts, pecans and sultanas
  • Candy canes (no plastic wrapper)
  • Chocolate (in paper wrappers)

I’m not sure how many modern children used to eating a highly processed diet would feel about receiving fruit and nuts in their Christmas stockings. Maybe the shock of natural eco-friendly foods will give them a Christmas to remember!

Crockery and Cutlery

This one is a no brainer – if you want to be eco-friendly and stop throwing money away – don’t use single use items.

Reasons to avoid single use items
The crazy times we live in

Use your own crockery and cutlery and wash them.

If you don’t have enough ask your guests if you can borrow their crockery and cutlery or stock up from opportunity (thrift) shops until you have enough.

Toys

Simple: stop buying children plastic crap.

Eco-friendly toys from the 1920s were made from wood, metal or ceramic.

This year we are putting together a copper circuitry kit with LEDs in a metal toolbox for our son. For our artistic daughter, we are gathering water paint supplies to be stored in a nice cardboard box.

Our grandchildren are getting handmade bird feeders, with metal binoculars and a paper poster about the birds of our region.

There are so many plastic free options for toys that don’t need to cost the Earth.

Also consider gifting an experience, rather than toys.

Have a Very Merry Eco-Friendly Christmas!

Mrs Hack

I'm an everyday person on a journey to save money and care for the environment at the same.

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