Zero-Waste Christmas Ideas

Religious or not, most of us get swept away with Christmas cheer – but how can we continue celebrating whilst being mindful of our beautiful blue planet? Read on for simple ways we can alter our habits and perception for a merry Christmas, without the guilt of a carbon footprint a yeti would gawk at.

 

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Rethink the Word ‘Gift’

When we think ‘gift’, the same image normally comes to mind. Something that’s tangible and wrapped with a pretty bow. However, not all presents need be physical. Here are some examples:

 

Experiences

What’s the thing they’ve always wanted to do but never got round to doing? Visit an attraction? See a show? Take a class*? Get a tattoo? *cough* How about purchasing a Gift Certificate so they can tick something off their bucket list? ‘Cause let’s face it: more socks are never on anyone’s bucket list…or any wish list for that matter!

 

Time

From a coffee date to helping move house; you choose how much time you’re willing to give. Time is a precious commodity and I find the older we get, the less we have (until retirement years, at least). Use the opportunity to revive old friendships and strengthen ones that have weathered the stormiest of weathers. You may find that you cherish those moments far more than a material gift ever could.

 

Handmade

Let’s get real: Who doesn’t love receiving cake at any time of the year? Cakes, cookies or something savoury – Pinterest is overloaded with ideas and recipes. If you’re a dab hand at things like knitting or crocheting, you could make plushies or accessories instead. 

 

Repurposed

Wanna get crafty? Give unwanted items a new lease of life that would be useful or decorative in any home. From hampers made of plastic bags, simple but elegant flower vases, or custom coasters, there are blogs all over the internet where budding creators share their knowledge. Again, many can be found via Pinterest (search for ‘upcycle’).

 

* I bought some lessons for myself via Udemy** on Black Friday and can’t wait to try them!

** Not a sponsored post. Just sharing the love. 🙂

 

Support Local Businesses

Naturally, I’m biased here. 😉 However, when you buy locally, from owners whose livelihood relies solely on lovely people appreciating our skills and/or products, it really does make our day. We spend all our energy in something we hope others will acknowledge and you buying from us ensures we can cover the rent, bills, food and gosh, maybe even a treat for ourselves!

Gift Certificates can be bought all year round and delivered straight to your door.

Personally, it’s taken me over three years to get to a stage where the thought of buying a coffee and slice of cake doesn’t riddle me with anxiety…and that’s all thanks to the accumulative efforts of me showing up and you guys spreading the word. Our businesses can’t survive without you and our spirits would surely sink if we had to give it up.

 

Wrap Responsibly

Need ideas on ways to wrap your pressies, without the traditional wrapping paper that can’t always be recycled? Try these on for size…

Reusing Existing Paper

Cardiff’s very own Green Squirrel community recently held a workshop, where they reused all sorts of materials to present their gifts. Parcel paper, scarves, twine, foliage…even loo roll! Spark your creativity and give something truly unique by trying a different approach this year.

 

Furoshiki

From the blog, 1 Million Women.

The long-established art of folding objects with cloth has been used in Japan for may years, gaining mainstream attention more recently with the wave of people choosing sustainable living over cheap convenience.

 

Upcycle Leftover Tubs

Every year, someone is guaranteed to give you a box of chocolates or biscuits for Christmas. Is this a British thing? I swear it’s almost compulsory to have a family tin of something, regardless of whether you have kids or not. Either way, thanks to this fabbo blogger, you can magic a tacky-looking tub into something super cute (or chic, depending what finish you go for).

 

Shop at Zero Waste Stores

Photo by Mary W Thomas for Ripple Living, Cardiff.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has a zero-waste store (like we are now, thanks to Ripple Living and Viva Organic), they’ll normally stock all sorts of goods that can be bought as gifts (e.g. handmade soap or reusable cosmetic pads). Check them out! You’ll be doing extra do-goodery by supporting local business whilst helping the planet. 💚

 

 

Consider an Alternative Advent Calendar

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As a belated wedding gift, I bought my friend a limited edition Christmas advent calendar from @authentichouseuk . Each day in December, they'll open a treat that'll help them live in a more ethical, sustainable way. 😀 I asked Alice (owner of Authentic House) if she could throw in some extra bits if I rounded up the price, hence the little parcel next to it. . . . If you're looking for tips, products or inspiration on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle, check them out! 🌍💚🐳 www.authentichouse.co.uk . . The advent calendar is already sold out, so register your interest for next year! . . . #christmas #christmaspresent #weddinggift #christmasadventcalendar #adventcalendar #alternativeadventcalendar #authentichouse #authenticchristmas #ecofriendly #ecoadventcalendar #sustainableliving #saveouroceans #SupportingLocalBusinesses #womeninbusiness #noplastic #plasticfree #furoshiki #ecochristmas #ecofriendlychristmas

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Recently, I purchased an advent calendar from Authentic House, which promotes sustainable living in an easy subscription box that’s delivered straight to your door. Each day, you can unravel an item that can either help you swap habits for more eco-friendly ones (such as replacing cling film with beeswax wraps), or an ethical treat for yourself, such as handmade lip balm made by a local producer. The one pictured above was a limited edition piece I bought for a friend as a wedding gift for her and her family. 🙂

…this way, every day leading up to Christmas can feel like…well, Christmas! 🎄

 

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That’s all from me! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. 😚💕

Naomi xxx


30 Life Lessons

It was my birthday this month and seeing as it was the big 3-0, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things I’ve learned over the years. Who knows, it may help someone out there. 🙂 Some are silly, some profound, many are obvious but good to be reminded of.

Warning: As this is a casual post, there’s the odd swear word in here. 😛

 

 

Nature doesn’t care for heels.

1.) I’ve finally accepted my height. Screw heels – imma embrace my travel-sized self. 😆 (5ft2″)

2.) Treat yourself as kindly as you do others. I’m very harsh on myself and often don’t acknowledge or reward accomplishments – it’s something I’m trying to work on…

3.) Spend your energy on people who appreciate it and limit or cut off anyone who doesn’t. Your resources are finite and better spent on those who will keep it topped up, not drained.

4.) It’s totally okay to not wear makeup. Nobody gives a fuck, and if they do, it says more about them than you. I admit I still wear it to work or when filming, but maybe one day I’ll get over that too. Also, you save SO MUCH TIME when you don’t use it.

5.) Speaking of, this one made me feel like a knob: Regular soap and water works just as well as using makeup wipes, if not better, as you don’t get that weird residue at the end. I kicked myself so much for being conned by the cosmetic industry for all these years.

6.) Having short nails is so. much. better. than long ones. I originally kept them short because I wanted to take piano more seriously, and ’cause I was concerned with longer ones poking through my gloves when tattooing. Turns out, they’re just way more useful overall, and I can do other activities like climbing.

From bottom to top, I downsized my purse to a cardholder (which is half full of business cards) and barely use that, as I have the ones I need most with my phone.

7.) Consciously downsizing my things in my journey to minimalism and producing less waste (particularly plastic) made me realise how much unnecessary crap we go through. A good chunk of it isn’t needed, guys. Ditch it (responsibly).

8.) Embrace the unexpected. Switching from liquid to bar soap in attempt to reduce plastic, then seeing how much plastic used on those still, then wincing at the price tags of unpackaged, handmade soap, has lead me to making my own. Omg guys, it’s so much fun and I geeked out HARD. Zan (engineer) and Clarissa (Physicist) seemed happy I was accidentally delving into the world of Chemistry, haha. I recently made a batch for a friend’s wedding. 🙂

9.) Sometimes, the kindest thing you can do is to let go. Regardless of time spent together or effort put in, if things aren’t working out and you can’t see a happy future ahead, let go. This goes for all types of relationships – not just romantic ones.

10.) Just because you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to remain friends, or even acquaintances. You’ve given your forgiveness and owe nothing more. Don’t go back if it’ll make you upset again.

11.) Fast Fashion is dumb. Buy only what you love wearing and look after them so they’ll last years. Invest in better-quality items when you can afford to. Nurture your own style and you’ll never be a slave to the industry.

For more bento pics, follow my personal Instagram page! @naomi.hoang

12.) Presenting food nicely boosts morale. Most of my bentos are leftovers, but having them arranged in a cute lil’ box makes it seem like more of a treat than shoving them in a takeaway container, and saves money from eating out.

13.) Folding is therapeutic. Okay, this may not apply to everyone, but I love folding laundry. 😂 Like origami, I find it calming to fold and organise everything so it’s all neat and tidy. It saves space and makes it easier to find things when you’re getting changed.

14.) Value time off and social appointments as much as work. Literally block it in your calendar if you need to. Life is far easier and more enjoyable when you have inner strength and a support network, so nurture it as you would your career.

15.) Look after your body. Find an activity you enjoy and make it your jam – at least once a week. If you can’t afford classes yet, seek free lessons on YouTube. I’m currently going through physio and practising yoga.

16.) Make the most of your community. I’m appreciating my Asian roots more as I grow older and admire how communities hold each other up for life. We need that more in the West, imo.

17.) When I’m really tired at work and all I want to do is to go home and sleep, I chant the following words, lifted from a Buddhist story: “The most important time is now; the most important person is the one in front of me [i.e. client]; and the most important task is to care.” This has helped me shift my focus to the other person over my perceived suffering and the time goes by more smoothly.

My first 5-min speech to pitch my business.

18.) Do things that scare you. More often than not, it’ll pay off and you’ll grow more and faster than staying in your comfort zone. For me, public speaking and being at events like Comic Con have been my challenges and I’m glad I rose to them.

19.) Walk to the beat of your own drum. What works for you may not suit others and vice versa, and that’s okay. Be respectful to others and keep walking your own path.

20.) Being kind, compassionate and respectful costs you nothing but earns you everything.

21.) To avoid overthinking whilst trying to sleep, I recall a simple saying from a Buddhist talk, that essentially boils down to, “Whatever you’re doing; give it all you’ve got”. When working, do your best. When you’re with people, be present with them. When resting, give it your all, instead of muddling it with other tasks. I normally end up with a clear mind after that and sleep easily.

Waterloo Tea (Cardiff) is one of my fav places to work when I want a change of scene.

22.) Keep learning. Be open to learning new skills or hone existing ones at all times, even if you don’t see it being immediately useful. For me, this mostly applies to business. It’s better to be prepared and know what to look out for in advance so you can mould your plans accordingly, than wait ‘til you’re at a key stage before seeking help.

23.) Captain Obvious statement: alcohol dulls the senses. I’ve always had a rule to myself not to drink the day before tattooing, and as business got busier I rarely had a glass of wine or a cocktail with dinner as I used to. I now value having a sharper mind in the morning more than a slight buzz the night before. That’s not to say I’m completely dry now, I just don’t value it much anymore.

24.) There’s no shame in seeking help if you need it. Emerging stronger on the other side is far more rewarding than coping. “Good enough” is just that. Aim for “great”.

25.) You get what you put in. Sure, sometimes luck plays a hand, but on the whole, the more effort you put into something the more you’ll get out of it. Don’t be lazy – if you really want something, be prepared to work for it. Nobody will or can do these things for you.

26.) If you’re unsure about something, ask. It’ll help give you different perspectives to your own.

27.) Ask yourself whether your fear is valid before succumbing to it. Challenge it. Writing a column for why you can and another for why you can’t will make it clear whether avoidance is stemming from real reasons or negative self-talk.

Check out the Calm app (Android & iOS) for free guided meditation.

28.) One step at a time. This is something I need to work on – building consistency so that tasks get completed and skills are honed in good time, rather than neglecting them because I’m putting out fires.

29.) It’s okay to slow down. I was such a go-getting, overachieving, uptight perfectionist before. After a few major life events, I’ve learned to step back and approach things in a more calm, kind manner that isn’t fuelled by fear. Sure, progress is slower, but I’m healthier and less of an arse to be around now, hah!

30.) Just get started and do the thing. Whatever it is. What’s stopping you? Are they legit reasons or excuses? Catch yourself out when they’re the latter.

 

 

…..and that makes 30! Did any of these resonate with you? What would you add? I’d love to hear your feedback. 🙂

Naomi xxx

P.S.: If you’re wondering what I got up to, I had my first go at archery, stuffed my face with sushi and ramen, then saw the Kuzuna exhibition at Cardiff Museum. ☺

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Today I had a fab birthday that consisted of archery at the #CardiffBayWaterActivityCentre (something neither of us had tried before), sushi/ramen at @sushilifecardiff and culture: We rounded up the day with a visit to the @cardiffnationalmuseum to see the #Kizuna exhibition, which will be around 'til 9th Sep'18…so get there soon! It's completely free too, which o find baffling and am grateful for. Chucked a fiver in one of the donation box as a thank you. . . So long, 20's! You were turbulent as hell but I learned a lot from it all. I don't think I'll miss you much….except for the whole, not getting hangovers and being able to stay slim with zero effort. I'll defo miss those. 😐 . . The Water Activity Centre we attended for archery is one of three community centres in Cardiff that are still council-run – the rest have been sold to private companies due to financial struggles. If you need to host an event or would like to take up a new sport, please consider your local community centre….because if we don't make more use of them, they'll be gone forever. 😢 . . #birthdaygirl #turning30 #goodbye20s #archery #sushi #ramen #japanese #culture #museum #cardiff #wales

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