Up-cycled Christmas gifts, repurpose your clothing and textiles waste.

By Melisa Gooding

10 months ago

There is nothing quite like home-made gifts and Christmas crafts to get you in the festive spirits. Learn how to upcycle what you have into the perfect present for a loved one, whilst saving money and challenging the idea of ‘waste’.

With Christmas just around the corner and Brits predicted to spend £48.7bn this December it is essential that we think about what we can do to cut down on costs and protect the planet at the same time. As the impact of consumption on our natural planet becomes more and more evident it is time to enact change in our festive patterns.

The most cost efficient and sustainable resources are the ones you already have. Making use of discarded or unwanted items means that those items can live on in a new form and be cherished.

Craft is also a wonderful mindful activity, linked to positive mental health and has been referred to as an ‘antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.’ Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that craft allows us to enter a ‘flow’ state as we get immersed in the act of crafting.

These hand-crafted gifts are positive for the bank balance, mind and the planet.

If you don’t have time for craft

If you don’t fancy getting crafty or do not have time then there are other ways of buying budget and environmentally conscious this year. You could look in charity shops, many charity shops have a gift section of unopened Christmas goodies from previous years. Suggest a secret santa instead of buying everyone individual presents. You could donate to a charity as someone’s gift or choose something from an environmentally conscious brand or give someone an experience to enjoy.

Reusable bags

Old shorts are the perfect shape to make reusable gift bags and larger shopping bags. Single use bags are damaging for the natural environment and are often not recyclable. It is estimated that 4.5 billion plastic bags given away annually by UK super markets, this is the perfect gift to encourage reusable bag use. They also make the perfect zero waste wrapping alternative replacing Christmas wrapping paper and can be used for shopping or storing accessories.

You will need:
-An old pair of shorts
-Needle and thread
-Safety pin

Step one: Cut the desired size of your bag, cutting the legs means that you already have two side of your bag secured.

Step two: Sew one more side up – leaving you with one open side.

Step three: Fold and sew around 1cm of each side of the open section, then using a safety pin feed through the ribbon, pull shut and tie.

Reusable makeup wipes

Up-cycling old t-shirts into reusable make-up pads is a fun and creative way to give them a new life and is the perfect sustainable gift for a sustainability lover. With 90% of wet wipes containing plastic and not being recyclable this is a gift that is kind on your wallet and the environment (War on Plastic, 2019).

You will need:
-An old t-shirt/fabric
-A cutter shape
-Needle and thread

Step One: First, create a circular template for the size that you would like your pads to be. Then cut around the template creating the circles (3 circles per pad).

Step Two: Once you have cut your circles out place three on top of each other stitch them together either using a needle and thread or with a sewing machine to secure the fabric. Sew another stitch around the exterior to give them a sturdy frame.

Step Three: Now you have finished the pads put them together in packs and tie with hessian string to give as a hand-made present with a pot of coconut oil so they can be used as a sustainable make up remover kit. The pads can then be washed in the washing machine after use and used again and again.

Beeswax/soy wax reusable wraps

Reusable wraps hold their shape and can be used to cover food or bowls just like foil or cling film would. They are great and very in at the moment however buying them from retailers comes at a price and this is a much more cost effecient way of creating them. They replace cling film which is generally not recyclable (Recycle now, 2019). With over 745,000 miles of cling film being used by households across Britain every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world over 30 times things need to change (Beebee Wraps, 2019).

You will need:
-Fabric (thinner the better, cotton is good)
-Soy/bees wax block (You can buy this online or if you are lucky enough to know someone who has bees ask them)
-Optional: Pine resin

Step one: Cut your fabrics into the shapes that you desire. This could be circular for bowls, rectangular for making a sandwich wrap and a square for a block of cheese or a half-eaten avocado.

Step two: Set the oven on 50 degrees. The next step is to grate the wax block, I used a block from my friend’s bees but you can also buy wax locally or online. Grate enough wax to sprinkle over the fabric.

Step three: Lay your fabric on a baking parchment on a baking tray and put in the oven for around 5 minutes. Check how they are doing, you may need to add some more and play around with the amounts depending on how waxy you want your wraps to be. The wraps are now ready to wrap all day everyday.

You can wash your wraps with cold water and washing up liquid. If they are looking a bit worn out just pop them back in the oven, on a low heat, to refresh them.