Being eco-friendly at Christmas without compromising can be difficult, but I am a firm believer that going green shouldn’t mean losing out. I am also a firm believer that, at twenty-two, I should not be ashamed of the fact that I still find absolute delight in advent calendars every year.
Unfortunately, advent calendars often come with an excess of plastic, dairy and, well, downright ignorance in tow. So here are my top three ways of filling the advent-calendar sized hole in your life without compromising the planet.
The ‘Reverse’ Advent Calendar
Reverse advent calendars have been extremely popular in the media this year, which I just love. They focus on giving every day, rather than receiving, and there are so many creative ways to do it.
You could donate unused items that you already own, buy something to donate for each day, or even donate a small amount of money to a different charity each day. Another option is to make a Kindness Jar, and pick out your daily dose of kindness each morning throughout the month.
If you’re reading this with kids in mind, you can make a reverse advent calendar more fun by filling a box with donate-able items and letting them rummage every day, so they can pick out what they’d like to give to someone in need.
When I was young, I always loved gift-wrapping an old shoe box, filling it with toys and giving it to the Samaritans. Although this scheme has been widely criticised, as a child it really helped me to connect with the idea of giving to those less fortunate. Rather than scrapping the idea completely, you could donate your shoeboxes to a local food bank or hospital instead.
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Vegan Chocolate Advent Calendars
The struggle is real for chocoholics at Christmas. Aside from making your own, I don’t think that the perfect vegan and zero-waste advent calendar actually exists. The best alternative I’ve come across was very kindly gifted to me by Joe’s mum (awh) and ticks almost every box.
It’s the Divine Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar, and it’s the best. It’s certified vegan, palm-oil free and made with FSC-certified cardboard. Divine chocolate is Fairtrade, and the company is 44% owned by a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana. The only downside is that it comes with a thin sheet of plastic to hold the chocolate in place (if it weren’t for that, it would literally have been perfect).
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D-I-Y Advent Calendars
There is no end to the list of creative ways you can make your own advent calendar (Pinterest has kept me busy on this for hours). If you’re not the creative type, you can purchase a whole range of handmade countdowns on Etsy.
The great thing about these is, not only can you make sure they’re plastic-free, but you can also re-use them time and time again. You can fill them with anything you like, but my absolute favourite idea is to do a swap with your friends or family so that you get a genuine surprise every day.
If you’re one for traditional chocolate, plenty of companies now sell vegan chocolate in FSC-recycled and recycle-able packing, such as Green and Blacks, Lindt and, of course, Divine.