Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Do eco-friendly Advent calendars exist?

Opening an Advent calendar is something that millions of kids look forward to each December. But with an extra three million tonnes of plastic waste being generated every festive season in the UK, is it time we switched out the plastic and opted for eco-friendly options instead?

Advent calendars can be traced back to the 19th century. Back then, it was nothing more than families marking every day until Christmas Eve with a chalk line or by burning a candle. The first commercial production of Advent calendars began in 1946 and it wasn’t until 1958 that the first chocolate Advent calendar appeared. Early Advent calendars were often made of paper and opening the door revealed an image or a bible verse instead of a chocolate.

However, the 21st century has seen a drastic commercialisation of Advent calendars. Not only are there thousands of chocolate calendars to choose from, there are now beauty, jewellery, fragrance and even food and drink calendars on the market.

Even if the materials used are as sustainable as they can be, the modern Advent calendar is still a huge waste of resources

The main issue with modern Advent calendars is the huge amount of waste that they produce. Firstly, there is the plastic that comes in the calendar. More often than not, this is not recyclable. Even when it is, most people do not separate the plastic from the cardboard and simply bin the whole calendar which can cause trouble at recycling facilities. That being said, some companies are working on making their Advent calendars more eco-friendly, particularly by using recycled and recyclable materials. This is a good start, but even if the materials used are as sustainable as they can be, the modern Advent calendar is still a huge waste of resources.

The other problem with advent calendars, particularly those containing actual items rather than food is that they will most likely not be used and end up in landfill. For example, if you got a jewellery Advent calendar, chances are, you will not end up wearing all of the items you get. Instead, it would be a wiser idea to invest in one or two quality pieces that you know you will love.

Buying a reusable Advent calendar means that you can put in whatever you would like

Luckily, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to Advent calendars so you do not have to miss out! The most sustainable thing to do would be to use what you already have. There are plenty of DIY Advent calendar ideas to have a look at if you are crafty. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, don’t worry because there are plenty of people that do. Etsy is a great place to buy handmade reusable Advent calendars. Buying a reusable one means that you can put in whatever you would like. Not only does this mean you can eat your favourite chocolates (rather than the tiny cheap ones in the normal Advent calendars), but it would also be much less wasteful. If you plan to buy a reusable advent calendar, make sure to choose one you really like. This way, you will be able to use it for many years to come and the more uses you get out of it, the better it is for the planet.

If you adore Advent calendars and refuse to give them up, why not try to opt for a reusable one for next year? Every little change you make goes a long way in reducing the waste generated in this busy period.

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