Hoping to make this Christmas more eco-friendly but worried that you’ll have to give up on everything you love? Don’t worry, there’s no need to go cold turkey on Christmas in order to save the planet. Just ask Cheryl Lee, founder of Hong Kong-based Pinehappy, a company that makes eco-friendly, socially conscious Christmas crackers.
A staple at any Christmas dinner party, Christmas crackers are often single-use and filled with trivial items such as small toys, paper hats and jokes. That’s exactly why Cheryl came up with the idea of creating eco-friendly Christmas crackers from recycled paper instead, whilst supporting the gainful employment of disadvantaged and/or recovering groups in Hong Kong.
- Touch Nature handmade soap made by women who have escaped and are recovering from human trafficking
- HK cha chaan teng fridge magnets made by people recovering from long-term mental illness from the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
- Scrunchies with hidden storage compartments
- Conversation cards to ignite deeper connection
Besides swapping traditional Christmas crackers with Pinehappy’s eco-friendly versions, we asked Cheryl to share a few more of her favourite sustainable Christmas tips:
Decorate your tree with LED lights
LED lights are safer and more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights. As they don’t heat up, the bulbs don’t burn out and they are also less likely to overheat and start a fire. Besides saving on your electricity bills, you can also be adventurous with the colours and designs – we love exploring the streets of Sham Shui Po for funky finds!
Make your drinks plant-based
It might be difficult to give up all animal products for Christmas, but something simple we all can do is opt for a plant-based drink now and then. All plant-based milk alternatives have been shown to be better for the environment, but our favourite is oat milk (not just because of the taste, but because oat milk has 80% less greenhouse emissions than dairy milk and uses 60% less energy).
Wrap presents consciously
Consider gifting your presents in cloth wrap or tote bags – something that is re-usable – and decorate your gifts with sustainable trimmings such as cinnamon sticks, twigs and dried flowers.
Pinehappy’s Christmas crackers are delivered in a reusable zippered canvas tote bag, while the crackers themselves can be upcycled into thank you cards or scrap paper.
If you find yourself gifted a present in wrapping paper, resist the temptation to tear it up and neatly undo the sticky tape to reuse it for your next gift instead.
See also: 8 Simple Swaps For Gift Wrap
Give the gift of experiences
Give your loved ones experiences, which will reduce the need for gift wrap and can conveniently be sent as e-vouchers. Some experiences we like include massage vouchers, workshops (such as these from the Freida Club), outdoor adventures from Sea Kayak Hong Kong and more.
Mulch your Christmas tree
If you opted for a real Christmas tree this year (versus a plastic one), don’t send your tree to landfill once the holidays are over. Instead, consider the various tree recycling programmes available in Hong Kong – some tree sellers even include this in their service!
For the past few years, the Environment Protection Department have been running a Christmas tree recycling programme where real Christmas trees are sent to be mulched and used for landscaping in local parks.
Visit wastereduction.gov.hk for more details.
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