Hi there Baluers,

Feeling festive? Feeling eco-conscious? Want both at once? Here are a few tips to help you have a sustainable holiday and to find calm among the festivities.

A Conscious Christmas day

As a vegan in a sea of ravenous (and vociferous) omnivores, I struggle to have any positive influence on the christmas day menu planning. But maybe you’ll have better luck! You can start here with Jamie Oliver’s vegan christmas menu. Swapping just one meaty item for a vegan one is a major win.

What are your traditions? They should reflect the way we want to live now, not the way someone else lived before. Take inspiration from these minimalist holiday traditions, crowd-sourced and wonderful.

And as for receiving gifts, if you do get stuff you don’t want or need, give it back. This might seem controversial, especially if you’re worried about Aunt Maude’s response when you ask for the receipt for the 3 way pasta-maker/mop/hat. But consider the alternative. In 2016 the world generated enough e-waste to fill a line of 18-wheelers from New York to Bangkok and back. (PS Don’t fall back on recycling: chances are it won’t happen. Only 20 percent of e-waste was recycled last year)

Give and make

It may be a little late but we’re going to put this out there anyway….make instead of buy? If you don’t think you’re the making type, take inspiration from Hubbub’s amazing DIY christmas gift pinterest board. Other ideas we love are making the foodie in your life a hamper of edible goodies. If you are last min buying, these creative and social-goody ideas from Nesta are awesome, including language classes by fully trained refugees. Time to get cracking with Mandarin, Urdu, Arabic…

And….breathe

If christmas stresses you out (cue once-used wrapping paper scrunched up in the bin, your (very cute) nephew discarding his presents after 4 minutes play, your red-cheeked great aunt bringing up Brexit), then it might be time to focus on relaxation. This year, don’t compromise on your own wellbeing (others will benefit from that too!). So here’s some ideas I am going to try to stick to this year:

  1. Make time for yourself. A little downtime can go a long way. This can be whatever you want it to be. Some favourites of mine are curling up with a cup of tea and a book, getting into a podcast or taking a walk at dusk
  2. Get into nature. Your immune system and mood will benefit. But moreover, its nice!
  3. Unplug from your phone. This is a tough one but its worth it. Here are four surprisingly helpful tips to disconnect
  4. Seek out moments of gratitude. If you’re anything like me, it can be hard to find the gratitude when your inner voice is shouting ’STOP GIVING ME STUFF!’ to every relative within earshot. But Christmas is about more than that. Take a moment to reflect, remember and give thanks
  5. Give back. I find giving back gives perspective, makes me feel useful and like I have a least a little power to make the world better. There are lots of ways to give back, whether locally or globally. Three ideas I like are: starting local and going on a litter pick around your area (a good way to burn off christmas lunch too), joining the campaign to protect our oceans, making small changes that add up

All that’s left to say is….

Happy Christmas and see you in the new year

Giselle and Brian at Balu