Action 329: Make a traditional advent calendar

advent calendarDate: 25 November
Action: 329
Cost of taking action: LOW


By our guest author Barbara Wysocka in Scotland

A traditional advent calendar can reduce your plastic and carbon footprints and let you give more thoughtful, personal and ethical gifts

Since it’s just round the corner, we are now allowed to officially say the C word aloud – Christmas is coming!

We all love it and we all associate it mainly with such a nice things like wonderful atmosphere, family time, delicious homemade meals, presents and many many others.

However, unfortunately, over time, Christmas has also become one of the biggest sources of single use plastic. Just think about all these decorations, cards, packaging, and rushed presents … and then on top of all that there is this big must in every household with at least one child as a resident (but not strictly only children!) – an advent calendar!

Let’s have a quick analyze what it usually consists of:

  • a plastic tray
  • quite often individually foil wrapped sweets
  • a box, often wrapped in clear plastic

The resulting waste

90% of this is single use (including the chocolates!😉). Imagine how many of those is disposed of in landfill every single year – it’s not a matter of hundreds or even thousands, it is estimated that in 2019, 16.5 million advent calendars containing single use plastic were bought in the UK.

And that’s only in the UK, not to mention the rest of the world! This is just shocking.

Do we really want to be a part of this in 2021 and every subsequent year?

The alternative

No, I didn’t think so.

But obviously we still want to enjoy counting down to Christmas at the same time, so what we can do instead? Well, there are some options:

  • you can download an app
  • you can keep crossing off days on your wall calendar
  • or…you can make your own traditional advent calendar!
advent calendar

Little cloth bags are a great option

Making a calendar

As a base you can either reuse any of the window boxes from previous years, or better still make something of your own. Just grab anything lying around your house that can hold a few gifts – a box, material scraps or maybe a wooden crate? Create those 24 individual windows, little pockets or drawers and then fill with something that is not made of plastic or that will create unnecessary waste.

Ideas for this could be:

  • little wooden toys
  • homemade biscuits
  • other sweets not involving plastics
  • locally sourced pieces of soap bar or other cosmetics
  • wax melts
  • and many many others, the more personal to your recipient the better.
advent calendar

A part made option can make this action an easy one

If you find yourself hopeless with Christmas DIY or you are simply short of time, you can also purchase sustainable advent calendars ready to be assembled. And then, once in one piece, such a calendar can be used for many years and stay with your family even for the next generations – how awesome is that?

Why is this important?

Let’s have a look how the environment can gain from this little change in our life:

  • less manufactured advent calendars containing single use plastic
  • reduces energy consumption and materials use (including fossil fuels)
  • this consequently decreases use of natural resources …
  • and all the pollution associated with it, including greenhouse gas emissions
  • reusing the same calendar we obviously reduce unnecessary waste
  • when creating our own advent calendar, we can give a second life to other items

Other advantages of making your own advent calendar include:

  • making them is a nice way to spend some quality family time
  • could be a very unique present
  • you can include ethically sourced items
  • it could become a precious family souvenir

Take action

Reject the plastic consumerism-driven chocolate advent calendar and revert to traditional, sustainable, ethical, personal gifts in crafted packages. Find materials, glue and scissors around the house and give it a try – you will surprise yourself with what you are able to create!

This article has been contributed by guest writer
Barbara Wysocka
Insta: @yourwastefreehome