Prepare now, or panic buy later


GET CREATIVE The failsafe way to avoid panic-buying new, heavily packaged synthetic items for Halloween and Christmas is to find alternatives as early as possible.

Green Living

McKinley Neal

Secondhand September is drawing to a close, but I hope we can all maintain lower-impact habits, especially as the end of the year is generally about saving up for and then buying lots of new items for the gifting season.
The failsafe way to avoid panic-buying heavily packaged plastic items before certain holidays is to find alternatives as early as possible.

Homemade Halloween
Halloween is just a month away, and if you are a parent and as slow as I am at working on a costume, we’d better start now. You’ll have to have a chat with your child, or find out if you have events to attend (there is hope that this year we will get to be festive again!), to decide on your costume goal. Then, have a good root around your home for older clothes or fabric, or even cardboard, that can be decorated, cut and refashioned to make what you need.
For accessories, ask others you know, as you can usually find someone who has something close enough to what you need, or visit local charity shops or keep an eye on online exchange groups.
For collecting treats, use a reusable tote bag that can be easily decorated to match a costume. The goal is to avoid the endless waste of polyester (plastic) garments that are produced to be used only once, and to ensure that costumes and materials already in existence get their fair share of wear.

Get Christmas ready
Once winter sets in, we will all be focused on the year-end festivities. Make lists now for your favourite people, and take your time to source something special that will have less of an environmental impact.
Gifts for experiences are an excellent way to rebound from the restrictions of the past year: yoga, pilates and other sports classes or memberships; art, craft or gardening workshops or courses; vouchers for restaurants, spas or hotels, or tickets to a big event. Local businesses of all types will be counting on making up for lost time from now to the end of year, so choose local first.  
I know several people who have started making jams, chutneys, ferments, sloe gin and other preserves for gifting, as delicious foods make a great hamper. If you’re crafty at all, you can spend wetter, darker evenings knitting, crocheting, woodworking or painting to make a totally unique gift, and these activities can easily be done with reused materials. It makes me think of earlier centuries when people had less choices and spent more time and thought on making special items by hand.
We will also be making as many of our own decorations as possible for the seasons. We have a willow wreath that is now covered with dried flowers and leaves; next we will make more colourful decorations from old gift wrap and magazine pages.
Try crafting gift bags from newspaper, which can be stamped with designs, or excess fabric (these are often known as furoshiki wraps, and they can be reused endlessly).

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.