Ideas for a sustainable Christmas

Updated: Feb 17

Christmas is honoured and celebrated by many people all over the world and brings positive energy into the atmosphere. The tradition of giving gifts on December 25 goes back centuries and has been kept alive until today.



Although gift giving is accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction, some of us have to make a big effort to choose a gift. Not just because some of our family and friends have basically everything, but also because we want the gift to be a reflection of our love. Well, the best way to do that is to make our own gifts! But there are many other reasons.


First, when we make our own gifts, we are able to personalise each one and change colours, patterns, packaging and other aspects. Because they are unique, the receiver has the feeling of wearing something that no one else has. In addition, they are unexpected. The surprise factor of having something handmade is precious. Another important point is the fact that we can use our time to do something therapeutic that takes us away from routine, while stimulating imagination and creativity. So, we just need to get started... imagination will follow. Keep in mind that it is crucial to keep Christmas sustainable by choosing organic, local or sustainably sourced materials.


The tradition of giving handmade gifts at Christmas is gaining popularity as it adds a personal touch to the joy of this festive season.


Because sustainability is our motto, we have gathered for you some ideas for a sustainable Christmas: from handmade gifts and souvenirs, to typical seasonal meals that are somehow more environmentally friendly - they make use of leftovers and reduce waste.



Eco-friendly recipes


Students participating in the SAL - Semente Ambiental project have produced a Good Practices Manual "Hands in the garden - the path towards more sustainable food" that you can read here. In this manual you will find a book of recipes that take advantage of kitchen by-products, use local and seasonal products, and therefore have the seal of sustainability!


We chose a recipe for this article, related to the season in which we find ourselves, but there are many more worth trying.


Roupa Velha “Old Clothes”


Ingredients

- Boiled codfish - 2 pieces

- Boiled potato - 2 units

- Boiled egg - 2 units

- Clove of garlic - 4 units

- Boiled Portuguese cabbage - to taste

- Cooked vegetables - to taste

- Olive oil - to taste

- Salt - to taste

- Olives - to taste


Preparation

Mix everything in a salad bowl

Eat cold, or warm it up slightly


This is a typical Christmas recipe made with leftover cod from Christmas Eve. The origin of the name of this traditional Portuguese dish is due to its appearance when served, in which the food is mixed together.



Handmade Christmas Gifts


The possibilities for handmade gifts are endless, and some examples are painted plates and mugs, reused photo frames, flower vases, key rings, calendars, candles, artwork, potpourri and Christmas ornaments. There is also a great list of do-it-yourself recipes for food lovers. You can give your own dried fruit for example, or give biscuits, cakes, pancakes, and many others.

All you need to do is put the dry ingredients of your favourite recipe in a jar, label it and share it with your family and friends.



Christmas Pancakes


1 cup flour (You can use half oat flour and half wheat flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch of salt

2 tablespoons chocolate chips

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts


1. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar or fill the jar with the ingredients arranged in layers.

2. Write the instructions on the glass jar (to ensure they are not lost):

a. For this recipe you will also need 2 eggs and 400 mL of milk or other vegetable drink

b. First put the ingredients in the jar into a bowl and stir

c. Add 2 eggs and 400 mL of milk or other vegetable drink

d. Cook the pancakes by placing small portions of batter in a non-stick frying pan

e. When bubbles appear on the top of the pancake you can flip it over until both sides are golden brown.

3. Decorate the glass jar.


Granola and Matcha Cereal Bars


150 g oat flakes

50 g puffed rice

75 g dried cranberries

40 g grated coconut

40 g pistachios

30 g pumpkin seeds

½ teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon matcha powder


4. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar or fill the jar with the ingredients arranged in layers.

5. Write the instructions on the glass jar (to ensure they are not lost):

a. For this recipe you will also need 4 tablespoons coconut oil, 100g honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

b. First put the ingredients from the jar into a container and mix


Melt 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and add 100 g honey and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

d. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and mix well

e. Press the mixture into a mould and bake in the oven at 175°C for 15 mins.

6. Decorate the glass jar.




If you have some spare fabrics at home you can make a tote bag and give it a new life! Or you can make a scarf with the most amazing colours you can find. Also, if you are looking to provide a spa experience for your loved ones, you can make your own bath salts and add flower petals from your garden and essential oils.



Bath salts


1 cup of Epsom salts

¼ cup Himalayan salts

10 drops of essential oil

1 tablespoon of dried herbs or flower petals


1. Combine all ingredients

2. Break up any lumps that may develop with the essential oils

3. Store in glass jars (and use within 3 months)

4. Decorate the glass jar.


You can use a single essential oil or use a combination of oils. Here are some suggestions for blends:


5 drops lavender + 5 drops orange

3 drops lavender + 3 drops lime + 1 drop mint

2 drops juniper + 4 drops orange + 4 drops grapefruit




Personalised Christmas cards


It is said that people will forget what we say, they will forget what we do, but they will always remember how we made them feel.

A handmade Christmas card, written by our hand, with heartfelt words, will bring feelings of love, gratitude and joy for sure. Those memories are etched forever. More than a gift, it's an opportunity to revisit those moments that marked the year, to remember the longing that remained after so many months away. By the way, when was the last time you wrote a letter by hand? And when was the last time you received a letter - other than bills to pay?


If we lack an artistic gift, we can always ask the son to scrawl, with love, in a drawing for his grandfather.





These handmade gift ideas are easy, sustainable and festive-proof! Most of these projects are quick and easy, so you have plenty of free time to spend with family and friends.


More ideas worth sharing


We leave you with a few more ideas to make this season more environmentally friendly and for future generations. They are so cute, we just had to mention them in our article!


University of Lisbon - Advent Calendar


Too Good To Go - Zero waste recipes


Season's Greetings!

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