sustainable Christmas in the Canary Islands
With the 2020 holiday season in sight, we all start thinking about what to give to our loved ones, how we’ll celebrate this year, what shall we have on the menu, and so on. At the same time, you might be wondering how to enjoy all of these traditions in the best sustainable way possible!
Well, have no fear, Canary Green is here… to help you out! Even though we probably won’t be celebrating any large indoor gatherings this year, you can definitely make lots of sustainable Christmas memories and reduce your environmental impact at the same time!
From sustainable gift ideas to an eco friendly Christmas menu, we’ve got you covered! Here are our 7 tips to reduce your holiday carbon footprint, so you can focus on what’s really important: to fully enjoy the festivities!
1. Give Sustainable Christmas gifts
We love gifts, we love them even more when they’re sustainable! But you might be wondering, what would make a gift sustainable and where do I find them on the Canary Islands? Actually, there’s quite a lot of options!
First, we’d suggest you buy from a small local and sustainable business, and luckily in the past year, two new projects from the Islands were launched that will help you find those businesses! Have a look at the Directorio Sostenible (for now only in Spanish but you can always use Google Translate), or if you don’t feel like going through lots of pages and then clicking onto many different online shops and social media links, Canarias Eco is a great option! It’s the first sustainable marketplace from and for the Canary Islands.
Another awesome option would be to give experiences, instead of products. We’re not talking about the typical Spa experience, we’re thinking about experiences which makes your loved ones discover the Canary Islands in the most sustainable way possible. Some suggestions from our end would be to go whale watching with Biosean, bird watching with Eco Insider, or doing a yoga hike with Concepto Yoga.
And then another possibility which we absolutely love, is to plant some trees! Ecosia, the tree planting search engine, has an online popup store so you can actually plant trees in the name of a friend. How cool is that, right?
2. Use eco friendly gift wrapping
Yes, we know, some of the regular gift wrapping paper looks absolutely fabulous. But unfortunately, most mass-produced wrapping paper is printed with unsustainable inks and even worse, are coated with shiny foils. Those foils? Well, not recyclable! So let’s discuss some sustainable options to make sure your gifts will look absolutely awesome under that Christmas tree!
The most obvious way that comes to mind, is to use recycled paper to wrap your gifts in an eco friendly way. So start saving those newspapers, magazines and so on, and use those instead.
Besides the recycling option, we’d like to give you some extra ideas. Local company EcoAlpispa makes beeswax wraps! They’re mainly meant for food, but wouldn’t it be really original to wrap your gifts in those (and at the same you give your loved ones an extra useful gift!). The same goes for an organic cotton tote bag!
And last but not least, ever heard of the Furoshiki cloth? It’s a traditional square cloth from Japan, used to wrap all sorts of objects. Local company Rewinder sells them and they’re made of 100% Natural Cotton fabric, soft, free of dyes and toxins.
3. Prepare an eco friendly menu
At Canary Green we’re all about supporting Meat Free Monday, so we definitely feel we need to suggest that you include a couple of plant based dishes in your Christmas menu this year. Of course, there are extra ways to make your holiday feast more sustainable.
Try and support your local farms and smaller shops when you buy your ingredients. There are several ecological farms on the islands, such as Finca La Calabacera but even if a farm is not ecological, we still feel you make more of an impact spending your money at a local farm or the typical farmers markets, instead of buying from the bigger supermarket chains. What’s more, because of the entire Covid situation, lots of these businesses are probably struggling to survive, so let’s try and help out our local community!
Remember that there’s the catering option as well! From desserts to entire menus, the Canaries boast several healthy and sustainable catering companies! We’ve tried the most delicious cakes ever from Vegan Only Sweet and entire meals from Tierra Café, but they’re definitely not the only amazing catering companies on the Canary Islands.
Last but not least, let’s talk about food waste! Thanks to marketing campaigns from supermarket chains and other bigger brands, we are encouraged to eat, drink and be happy over the entire festive period, but so much indulgence unfortunately results in a lot of waste. So please, plan ahead, organise and try and avoid buying too much! (This one is actually a general advice, the same goes for gifts, decorations, and so on!)
4. Use handmade Christmas decorations
Feeling inspired and creative? Then our first tip would be, craft your very own sustainable Christmas decorations. Do use biodegradable materials such as wood and paper, and if plastic is involved, make sure it’s recycled!
Then, for those of you that aren’t exactly the creative kind (as is the writer of this very blog post). If you really need to buy new decorations, make sure you choose handmade pieces using recycled glass, jute, wood, etc. There are so many amazing artisans on the islands that we’re confident you’ll find some beautiful options that will make your Christmas tree stand out this year!
5. Switch to LED Christmas lights
Ok, we know, Christmas lights don’t use that much electricity as many other things at your home, but not only can switching to LED lights save you money on your electricity bills this holiday season – because they use 90% less energy – LEDs last about 200,000 hours, meaning you won’t have to replace them for a very long time. And we’re big defenders of the principal ‘many small steps can make one big difference’!
6. Send a different type of Christmas card
Christmas cards, that lovely tradition, but one that also results in lots and lots of unnecessary waste. The best way to avoid that, is to start sending digital wishes. You could use the free design app Canva to create your very own! And if granny doesn’t have an email, why not give her an extra phone call this year instead of sending her a card!
If you really really must send out cards, go for the sustainable kind. Those are the ones made of recycled paper, or even better, of seed paper. Yes, you read that right. Spanish company Sheedo has specialised in seed paper and offers a fantastic collection of sustainable Christmas cards. The best part of it all, instead of throwing the card away after the holidays, your loved ones can plant it.
7. Donate to charity
Whether it’s as a very special gift for someone, or just because we all realise that for many families, this is not going to be the easiest year around, we kept this one for last. But to us, it’s an extremely important one. Donate to charity, whether in your own name, or in the name of a friend or family member, and help another family out that, if it weren’t for donations, would most likely be left behind during the festivities this year.
We’re personally very aware of the remarkable work local non profit Happy 2 Help is doing for families that for some reason can’t access the help others might get from social services. They provide them with food and for the kids, they are trying their very best to include Christmas gifts! We’re certain there are several other options across the island, so find one you feel happy to donate to and however small, support their much needed work!