Abandoned Christmas trees on the side of the road or stuffed in bins is a sorry sight come January - but times are changing.
The Christmas tree has become a mass product and as essential to the festive period as Christmas cookies or Christmas songs. Where else would all the presents find a home? No wonder that more than 1 million trees end up in Swiss living rooms each year - most of them chopped down and imported from abroad. That certainly doesn’t feel environmentally friendly.
All the better that more and more of us are opting for the more climate-friendly alternative: rentable Christmas trees in pots. Once the festivities are over, these are replanted and further cared for until the next year. Depending on the provider, the same "family tree" can even be rented over and over. The benefits at a glance:
- You produce less waste.
- You have less effort, and in most cases, you can arrange delivery and pick up of your tree.
- You support local businesses and know exactly where your tree comes from.
- You cause less CO2 because the transport distances are shorter.
- Back on the farm, the trees provide a habitat for wildlife and continue to absorb CO2.
Still prefer buying a Christmas tree?
It's best to choose a regional tree that has been grown organically. We recommend looking out for the label "IG Suisse Christbaum" because of the clearly defined environmental guidelines producers must abide by.
What is the deal with plastic trees?
Some people try to avoid the problem by buying an artificial Christmas tree. However, artificial trees also have an environmental cost. According to an American study, a plastic tree must be reused for at least five years before its impact on the environment is less than that of a real tree. Above all, the processed steel material and PVC have a negative impact on the environment. The same holds true for the long transport route - mostly from China.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Aside from the big debate about what the most sustainable Christmas tree option is, our consumption habits related to gifts, food or travel during the Christmas period has a much bigger impact on the environment than our choice of tree.
List of rental providers
Out of habit, many households resort to single-use products in their everyday. Yet there are numerous eco-friendly alternatives out there that are hardly recognisable as such. Here are our top 5 for the kitchen.
Conventional cling film is made of polyethylene, cannot be recycled and is usually thrown away after one use. Likewise, aluminium foil consumes huge amounts of energy in its production and unfortunately is not at all a good choice in terms of other environmental criteria either.
For those wanting to reduce their household waste, reusable beeswax wraps come in many designs and sizes. They are usually made of organic cotton coated with wax and can be fitted to any shape by using the warmth of your hands. They also have antibacterial properties so that food stays fresh longer and are easy to wash. For the vegans among us, there are also vegan plant-based options.
Compostable dishwashing sponges
Many of us use plastic foam sponges when washing up and cleaning. What most don't know: During their use, these release microplastic particles that end up in the wastewater and contribute to the pollution of our waterways. They also accumulate bacteria, which means they must be replaced frequently and end up in the bin in large quantities.
In contrast, compostable dishwashing sponges are made from more sustainable raw materials, such as cotton, flax, wood pulp or loofah, making them 100% plastic-free.
Glass containers and stainless steel lunch boxes
Although tupperware is generally safe, it is made from petroleum and can contain substances of concern such as plasticisers. In addition, plastic containers are not heat-resistant and can accordingly release harmful substances if they are heated or come into contact with hot food. Therefore, it is best to switch to other storage options.
Examples are glass containers or stainless steel lunch boxes for on the go. Used jars, such as jam jars, can also be reused. Existing tupperware does not have to be thrown away either but can be used to store non-food items instead.
Dishwashing brushes are practical for cleaning bottles and removing stubborn food residues. They are often made entirely of plastic, are not recyclable and eventually end up in the bin.
The alternatives made of wood are not only biodegradable and more sustainable but look much nicer too. For the brush head, manufacturers typically use natural coconut or tampico fibres that hold their shape well. In addition, the brush heads can usually be replaced without having to dispose of the whole brush, which in turn saves resources.
Washing up liquid comes into contact with our skin and enters our waterways through wastewater. It often contains substances such as ammonium lauryl sulphate, which binds grease and water, that are harmful to us and to the environment. Synthetically produced on a petroleum basis and only partially biodegradable, these substances can be especially toxic to aquatic life while in humans they cause allergies, rashes and drying of mucous membranes.
A good alternative therefore is solid plant-based dishwashing soaps. They are biodegradable and so gentle on the skin that you can even use the wastewater to water plants!
It’s no secret that the beauty industry takes a toll on the environment with many of us having the overflowing bathroom cabinets to prove it. So where can those of us who want to start being more eco-conscious in our bathrooms begin? The answer is shampoo bars.
Shampoo bars have been making waves for a while now, being raved about for their benefits for hair and the environment. Shampoo bars are exactly what they sound like – 0% bottle, 100% solid bar.
Why switch to shampoo bars?
First off, shampoo bars are a great way to cut down not only on plastic waste but water consumption too, as a typical 350ml shampoo bottle requires 700ml of water in the manufacturing process. In addition, many brands are committed to 100% natural formulations that are healthier for hair and free from harmful chemicals and additives such as SLS, SLEs and parabens. That shampoo bars are a fraction of the size of their clunky counterparts and thus also much more travel-friendly is just the cherry on top.
Aren’t shampoo bars more expensive?
Beyond the above-named benefits of shampoo bars, it turns out that your wallet will be thanking you too. Removing water that normally makes up give or take, 65% of liquid shampoos means that one concentrated bar can contain the equivalent of up to two to three bottles of shampoo, making shampoo bars the more economical option on a per wash basis.
How do you use a shampoo bar?
Wet your hair and shampoo bar. Gently slide the bar from root to tip and lather shampoo into hair before rinsing. If your hair is prone to tangling, try rubbing the bar in your hands and then lathering into hair instead, the way you would do with liquid shampoo. Depending on the shampoo bar, you may also need to manage your expectations of bubbles. Many of us have come to expect these from our shower products although they are in no way an indicator of cleansing performance.
Do you use a conditioner after a shampoo bar?
Yes, in this regard your routine will be no different to using bottled haircare products. Using a conditioner in a plastic bottle may feel counterproductive so try opting for a conditioner bar or 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner bar instead.
Do shampoo bars make hair feel waxy?
It is true that while some may switch over to shampoo bars with no obvious effects, others may experience a transition phase where hair may feel waxy or oily. In essence, this is because hair is no longer being stripped from its natural oils. In our experience, using a good amount of shampoo and most importantly rinsing hair out thoroughly can make all the difference. If you’re still experiencing waxiness after several washes, it’s likely that the shampoo bar you’re using just isn’t right for you. Explore your options as there are plenty of different bars for different hair types out there.
How do you store a shampoo bar?
Drying your bar out properly between uses is key. Keeping your bar dry will not only keep it neat, but it will last for significantly more washes too. That is why we recommend that you choose a spot in your shower that’s away from the water stream or that you store bars outside of the shower altogether. You will also want to choose a storage option that will let water drain away and air circulate – soap bags, wire shower racks, soap trays with drainage holes or even flannels or loofah sponges are all great options.