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Christmas preparation

This Christmas we are supporting residents to be WasteAware, and give gifts which are kind to the planet.

Banner Christmas2


Did you know, the three days spent celebrating Christmas each year equate to 5.5% of the UK’s total annual carbon footprint. It is estimated that over 21 million of us receive at least one unwanted gift at Christmas, 41% of toys will be broken or no longer used by March, 263,000 turkeys will be wasted, and we could wrap the island of Guernsey in the wrapping paper we throw away.

But there is an alternative! We encourage you to think of the environmental impact of gifts and celebrations this year, by purchasing low waste or local gifts and food.

Buying locally made gifts is a great way to support your local economy while looking after the planet, resulting in fewer miles travelled, and therefore a smaller carbon footprint. These items can also have a more transparent, shorter supply chain, making it easier for you to know what goes into your products and where they come from!

Buying from local businesses often also means less packaging (especially when you take your own bag), it saves the layers of bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and cardboard which usually comes with online orders! All of these benefits and more come with buying locally grown, seasonal food for your Christmas dinner! You can often buy plastic free, locally grown, organic vegetables from local markets and farm shops which are kinder to the planet, and better for you too.


Local online markets


The global pandemic, means there are far fewer in-person Christmas markets and Frost Fayres around this year, so we have selected a handful of online directories where you could find some local and eco gifts as well as food, drinks and activities to fill your basket:

If you prefer to browse in person, here is a list of local second hand or antiques shops where you could pick up that one-of-a-kind item your loved ones will love.

Local second hand shops


    The Trading Centre  - Hoddesdon  - Antiques/bric-a-brac  - EN11 8HL    

    Emmaus - Boxmoor  -  Reuse and Restore  -  Upcycled furniture / clothes  - HP1 2RE  - Charity fighting homelessness
    Emmaus - Tring  - Nineteen49  - Upcycled furniture / clothes  - HP23 4AB  - Charity fighting homelessness
    Returned to Glory  - Upcycled furniture  - HP4 1EH    
    Vyconic  - Unique upcycled gifts          
    Loft 68 Vintage  - Vintage clothes  - HP23 4AG    
    Swan Antiques Boxmoor  - Antiques  - HP1 2RA    
    Vintage Vagabond  - Upcycled furniture /bric-a-brac  - HP4 2BW    
    Home and Colonial Antiques  - Antiques  - HP4 3AT    
    F & R Boutique  - Pre-loved clothes  - HP1 3AH    
East Herts    

    Ware Reuse Centre  - SG12 0EL    
    Emmaus - Hertford  - Upcycled furniture / clothes  - SG13 7NT  - Charity fighting homelessness
    Kelly Swallow  - Upcycled furniture  - SG14  - Based in Hertford, mainly chairs/made to order
    Mint of Hertford  - High end preowned clothes  - SG14 1BA    
    Mark Wines Antiques   - Hertford  - Antiques  - SG14 1HZ    
    Herts and Essex Antiques Centre   -  Sawbridgeworth  - Antiques  - CM21 9JX    
    Cromwells Antiques Centre  - Sawbridgeworth  - Antiques  - CM21 9JX    
    Antiques and Chic  - Sawbridgeworth  - Antiques  - CM21 9JJ    
    Maltings Antiques  - Sawbridgeworth  - Antiques  - CM21 9JX    
    Magpie Amore  - Hertford  - Vintage Clothes  - SG14 1JA    
    Bell St Vintage  - Sawbridgeworth  - Vintage Clothes  - CM21 9AR    
North Herts    

    Slate Furniture Works  - Upcycled furniture  - SG6 1JJ    
    Tracey Andrews Interiors  - Upcycled furniture  - SG5 1DN    
    Little Twists   - Upcycled furniture  - SG4 7JJ    
    The Furniture Parlour  - Upcycled furniture           
    H Town Rags  - Vintage Clothes  - SG5 1AR    
    The Fleetville Emporium   - Furniture/clothes/bric-a-brac  - SG5 1DN    
    Jolly Brown Vintage  - Vintage Clothes  - SG5 2DU    
St Albans    

    Emmaus St Albans  - Upcycled furniture / clothes  - AL4 0AT  - Charity fighting homelessness
    Emmaus Harpenden  - Upcycled furniture / clothes  - AL5 4UN  - Charity fighting homelessness
    Harpenden Reuse Centre  - Furniture/miscellaneous  - AL5 1QB  - Donations to Sue Ryder
    Little Viking Vintage  - Vintage Clothes  - AL3 4ES    


   Spruse  - Upcycled furniture  - SG2 8AR    
Three Rivers    

    9 Lives Furniture  - Clothes/Upcycled Furniture  - WD3 1HA  - Charity providing upcycling workshops to vulnerable adults
    Croxley Antiques and Collectables  - Antiques  - WD3 3EH    

    Waterdale Reuse Centre  - Reuse Centre  - WD25 0PR    
Welwyn Hatfield    

    Recover  - Upcycled furniture  - AL7 1AU    
    Fresh - Furniture Recycling Scheme for Hertofrdshire  - Upcycled furniture  - AL7 3UQ    

    Preloved  - Various         
    Hemel Hempstead Reuse Movement  - Various          
    Bookshop  - Books  - Supports local book shops, you can choose for the profit to go to your local shop or it goes into a pot and divided between all.

Lockdown-allowing, charity shops can also be a fabulous source of low cost gems. Second hand doesn’t make it any ‘less’ of a gift – thought and love has still gone into choosing it, with a lower impact on the planet.

Alternative gift list

It can be hard to think of original and eco-friendly gifts to buy for your nearest and dearest, so see if our suggestions below give you a helping hand

  • Commission a local musician to write a personal song
  • Commission a local artist to paint/create a piece of art
  • Plant a tree/dedicate a tree
  • Donate to charity/sponsor/adopt an animal
  • Woodland Trust/Herts Wildlife Trust membership
  • Reusable items e.g. water bottle
  • A growler that can be refilled at local breweries
  • Locally grown produce/create a hamper
  • Books by local authors
  • Vouchers for local shops
  • Vouchers for eco shops
  • Vouchers for local restaurants
  • Battery recharger - for all those new toys/gadgets
  • Passes to local activities/attractions
  • Online subscriptions for magazines or books, e.g. audible/kindle
  • Foraging experience
  • Cooking/cocktail experiences
  • Bake something as a gift
  • Brew your own' - beer/gin/wine making kit
  • Make a wreath or flower arrangement as a gift
  • Book an afternoon tea
  • Create an 'at home' spa day with eco friendly products
  • Sign up for a craft course - perhaps an online course
  • Look for unusal gifts like naming a star
  • Voucher for family tree websites like Ancestry


Many of us find it hard to think of items to go on our Christmas List as we often have so much already and can buy what we need throughout the year. If you don’t need anything for yourself, it would be wonderful to see you ask friends and families for a donation to one of these local charities:






What to watch.

If you’re looking to sprinkle some environmentally themed content into your Christmas, we’ve pulled together a list of documentaries that tackle different aspects of sustainability. From food waste, to fast fashion and climate change you can learn a bit about the issues impacting our planet and how you can help! Please note the views expressed in these documentaries do not necessarily represent our own but highlight key environmental issues.

Climate change, pollution and conservation:

  • 2040
  • A Life on Our Planet
  • A Plastic Planet
  • Our Planet
  • Chasing Ice
  • Chasing Coral
  • Before the Flood
  • Years of Living Dangerously (Docu TV series)
  • Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
  • Racing Extinction
  • Ice on Fire
  • Climate Refugee
  • An Inconvenient Sequel

Fast Fashion

  • The True Cost

Food Waste

  • Rotten (Docu TV series)
  • Sustainable

What to read.

For adults, head over to Sustainable Jungle for a lovely selection of books.


  • Recycling and Rubbish, Stephanie Turnbull. Usborne
  • Dinosaurs and all that rubbish, Michael Foreman. Puffin books
  • I can save the Earth, Alison inches. Little Green Books
  • The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle, Alison Inches. Little Green Books
  • Michael Recycle, Ellie Bethel. IDW Publishing


  • The Rubbish Monster Thing by Simon Chadwick. Ceratopia Books
  • One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey, Henry Cole. Scholastic Press


  • 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World, Melanie Walsh. Candlewick Press
  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, Oliver Jeffers. Penguin Young Readers  
  • George saves the world by lunchtime, Jo Readman. Eden Project Books
  • The Tin Forest by Helen Ward. Dutton Books
  • Iron Man by Ted Hughes. Faber & Faber
  • What a waste by Jess French. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley)
  • Harry Saves the Ocean by Sylvia Fae. N.G.K

Why not also read about the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy, detailing what the council are doing to ensure the county is more sustainable?

Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of year, but it’s also the most wasteful. In the UK, an additional 3 million tonnes of waste will be produced during the festive period alone, that’s the equivalent of 30,000 blue whales!

Christmas decorations are a great way to reduce your waste during the holiday season. Whether you buy second hand or make your own at home, make your Christmas decorations waste-free!

There are plenty of places to look for second hand decorations. Websites such as,, and allow you to search by distance so you can find someone nearby. Charity shops are another great place to find new or pre-loved decorations. Although charity shops are currently closed, many have online shops so it’s worth looking up your local charity shop’s website. You can also find second hand decorations using apps like Olio, which started as a food sharing app and has now added a non-food section too. Olio even has a Made section where you can search your local community for homemade items, including decorations. Download the app to view the listings near you

If you’re feeling crafty, you could have a go at making your own decorations. This could be a fun lockdown activity to do with the family. You can find great step-by-step instructions on websites like Pinterest, YouTube or even this guide from the Hertfordshire Garden Centre. Check out these videos for some ideas of decorations you can make with materials found around your home or from more natural materials. (If using glitter, look for edible glitter as normal glitter is made from plastic which can’t be recycled and will never fully break down.)

You could also try putting your green thumb to work and check out your local florist for floral decorations and wreaths. You could even see if they offer online wreath making workshops.

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