Are you trying to be a bit more eco-conscious this Christmas? Then check out our guide for some quick and easy tips on minimising your impact on the planet this yuletide...
In a year which has seen #XR Extinction Rebellion and an increasing number of headlines linking catastrophic world events to climate change, it’s no wonder more and more people are heading into the festive season wondering how they can minimise their impact on the planet. Here at The Forge we’ve really upped our game on the sustainability front this year, planting more trees, installing more water-saving devices and investing in new solar powered technology to light and power our site. And we were absolutely thrilled to be recognised at the Go North Wales Tourism Awards this year as one of the top four businesses in the Go Green Award 2019.
So while it seems that the whole world is egging you on to spend more, eat more, drink more and generally enter into a frenzy of materialistic excess, what can you do to make just a little bit of difference and perhaps assuage some of the underlying guilt that we can all feel at this time of year?
Here is The Forge guide to having yourself a very merry Eco Christmas…
These have definitely become a ‘thing’ and most schools and offices now expect you to come in at least on one day in the run up to Christmas looking like a bit of a wally with some ostentatious woollen monstrosity emblazoned with an oversized reindeer or Christmas pudding. And while it can be tempting to run out and buy new ones for the whole family, take a moment to consider the supply chain that went into getting that jumper on that hanger. Wouldn’t it be more fun to take an old jumper and spend an afternoon decorating it with pieces of tinsel and sparkly sequins that my kids seem to have in abundance. We’ve been making little brooches using safety pins and shiny beads and buttons which look fab!
Ah the age-old debate – real vs fake? How about trying something completely different this year and using some branches from the hedgerows instead. It’s free, it’s less messy (no needles) and most trees and bushes could do with a bit of a trim at this time of year. Our clients who joined us for a ‘Whole of The Deer’ course this week were so inspired by our hawthorn arrangements (and when I say arrangement, I really mean grabbing two or three berried branches and chucking them in a glass milk bottle!) that they helped us with a little pruning by taking some home with them and using it as their Christmas tree this year. Remember, no one ever said it has to be a pine tree!
What could be nicer than heading out for a cold, crispy walk with a pair of wellies and a trusty old pair of secateurs, eyes trained on the hedgerows for any red berries that the birds may have been gracious enough to leave behind. At this time of year, now that the autumn storms have blown away the last the leaves, it’s pretty easy to see which plants are still green. They didn’t call the Christmas carol, ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ for nothing! Grab yourself big armfuls (trust me, these plants are never going to be endangered!) and have some fun with them back at the house. Fill jugs with the larger branches, put single springs in old wine or whisky bottles and lay them around on windowsills with any baubles which have lost their string. If you are lucky enough to live near a pine woodland go on a pine cone hunt and add these into the displays or string them up to make natural garlands. And if you fancy lighting up one of your garden trees, why not use solar lights which give off a really pretty, soft light. We have so many of these at The Forge and it’s nice to put these to good use in December when the tents are safely stored away.
If you are already dreading the horrific pre-Christmas supermarket scrum in the week before the Big Day, why not think about sourcing your food more locally and sustainably. While you might not find absolutely everything you need outside of the massive supermarket chains, chances are the veg and the meat will be a lot tastier and less plastic wrapped if you go to a local farm shop or market. Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to grow your own veg which you’ve frozen or preserved. Here at The Forge we’ve had a disastrous year for sprouts and cabbage (but now have the largest rabbits in Wales!) but we’ve been saving the parsnips to dig up on the morning of the 25th. Then we’ve asked the whole family to contribute their veggie successes this year which will hopefully give us enough for a feast. Who cares if you’re not really supposed to eat swedes or kale in the traditional Christmas dinner?!
While it can be tempting to splurge a load of cash on plastic crap on Amazon just to fill their empty, expectant stockings, just pause and take a moment to reflect. I read somewhere this week that no child under the age of 8 ever remembers what they got for Christmas and most children under 5 would have no clue if what you bought them was brand new or upcycled. So why not take this opportunity to have a bit of a clear out, swap the toys and books which are still in good condition with other members of the family, and save yourself some space and money. Chances are the little ones will never know the difference! And for the grown-ups in your life, rather than buying them some gimmicky gadget which fester in the back of the kitchen cupboard forever more, why not buy them an experience, something for them to look forward to for the spring and summer months (and ideally something you can join them on too… ergo a present of you too!). We have gift vouchers for The Forge available plus specific vouchers for all our bushcraft courses that we run through the Wild Bushcraft company on site if you think this would be just the ticket for someone you love!
Focus on the Experience
And finally, remember that Christmas is really not about STUFF. Whatever your religious beliefs or culture or faith, this time of year is about bringing people together to collectively take a break and spend time doing what they enjoy most. If you reflect back on your best Christmases, chances you don’t remember whether your mum bought the Sainsbury’s finest cranberry sauce or whether the wrapping paper was that really expensive (and completely unrecyclable) type. What we do remember is mummy and daddy actually sitting down and playing a board game with us instead of running around like headless chickens telling you to brush your teeth and get dressed or nose down on their smartphones for hours on end. We remember the smell of the Christmas pudding steaming and the candles after you’ve blown them out at night and the endless supply of nuts to be cracked (and never, ever at any other time of the year!). So don’t feel pressurised into buying so much stuff that you put yourself into a financial and environmental debt which clouds the whole start of a fresh new year with guilt. Perhaps take the opportunity to switch of your tech and try a digital detox for a few days. And focus instead on being present with the ones you love, using what you’ve got, and making it an experience to remember for years to come.
Thank you all for making our stay a magical experience. Everything we needed and more was supplied and the eco aspect opened our minds to our own unnecessary consumption. The site is a slice of heaven and to wake up with such amazing views was breath taking. Love the work you are doing on the site bushcraft, axe throwing etc. and your vision. Felt like we had found our special place and can't wait to return.