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'Tis the season to think eco

A Christmas wreath made from wine bottle corks, natural objects and unwanted decorations.
A Christmas wreath made from wine bottle corks, natural objects and unwanted decorations. / SUE BELL
  • Environment

  • A wealth of ideas for homemade Christmas decorations can be found on the internet and shopping locally will really help struggling small businesses

With the European Union’s ban on single-use plastics (SUP) coming into force next year - all EUcountries must have it written into national law by 3 July - why not get ahead and make sure plastics are merely a ghost of Christmases past?

There are so many easy ideas for all aspects of the festive season: from decorations and wrapping paper to presents and Christmas trees. And it’s still OK to add a bit of sparkle to the proceedings, as long as it’s truly biodegradable.

With extra time on our hands at the moment and nowhere to go after 6pm, it’s also the ideal activity for those long autumn evenings.

Trees and decorations

Instead of buying a plastic Christmas tree, use all of those Amazon boxes that are no doubt stacking up by now instead. A quick online search will provide a range of instructions as to how to make a simple, but effective tree, which are designed to be decorated.

For any carpenters, the same designs can be made with wood. For those who like the idea, but are less creative, many alternatives can also be bought.

Save up wine bottle corks to make really attractive decorations, including Christmas trees and wreaths - again, a Google search will bring up dozens of ideas.

Sue Bell, a volunteer at Lux Mundi in Torre del Mar makes wreaths from corks and “unwanted Christmas decorations and broken jewellery” and has been selling them at the centre’s Friday coffee mornings to raise funds.

Simple origami stars and other Christmassy shapes are easy to make. Check out www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com for instructions on how to make the stars and other ideas.

Christmas shopping

While it’s tempting just to do all the Christmas shopping via big online sites, spare a thought for the struggling independent local shops.

This year has hit them especially hard, with most having to close or have reduced opening times for several months.

While you might end up paying a bit extra, you’ll be supporting local business and helping the local area to survive. What’s more, some independent shops have gone online this year, if they weren’t already before the pandemic.

Locally, both Eco Passion and Aletheia Nature have a great selection of environmentally friendly soaps, shampoos, other toiletries and household items, which also make for ideal Christmas gifts.

Instead of buying brand new video games, toys and clothes, check trusted sites like Ebay for second-hand alternatives.

There are also lots of local buy and sell and freecycle social media sites like Facebook and Wallapop which are also good alternatives to buying something new.

There’s also a growing number of charity shops in towns along the Costa, all of which have had to follow strict heath and safety protocols in terms of accepting donations. They too are also seeing enormous losses this year and Christmas is, after all, traditionally a time to give.

Talking of which, if there’s really nothing you need, why not ask people to make donations to charity, instead of buying presents or Christmas cards?

Food

'Tis the season to think eco

There is no better place than Malaga for food gifts. This time of year is olive picking season and there are plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables which can included in a food hamper.

Avocado, pomegranate and grapefruit are all grown locally and are in season at the moment. There’s lots of locally produced honey, moscatel raisins and fig cakes. Not forgetting of course the traditional Spanish Christmas sweets and biscuits like turrón, polverones and roscos de vino and there are lots of Malaga companies that produce them.

With the EU banning single use plastics from 2021 and the argument over whether even eco-glitter is really ocean-friendly in the balance, there’s no time like the present (if you’ll pardon the pun) to make Christmas as environmentally friendly as possible.