Almost 12 days of plastic-free Christmas

By Cecily Henderson, founder of PomPom.

On the first day of Christmas, we all went plastic-free…

Did we, really?

At this point, it seems right to tell you I run PomPom, a kid’s company for imaginative toys and gifts, plastic-free from design to packaging. I do my best but if I was being graded like an exam, I would be clearly marked, “room for improvement!”


I am no perfectionist but certainly an optimist. Let’s embrace the fact that none of us are plastic-free but we are all trying to be better. 2020 has been a tough year, so let’s keep it simple.

We all need small swaps that require minimum effort and have maximum impact.

Below are 12 eco-friendly choices for this Christmas. Pick a couple, ignore the rest and laugh in the face of the others – trust me, I won’t ever enjoy making an edible Christmas pudding from scratch but I might learn to wrap my pressies in material… if no one is judging what it looks like.

On the third day of Christmas, I chose my Christmas tree…

If you choose a real tree, have a quick look (use Ecosia for a more ethical route) for your local independent store or farm shop. In some areas you can rent a tree, to further avoid waste. Double-check how your local council recycles trees for wood chip, so it’s not rotting in landfill, come January.

Please don’t buy plastic. If you have a plastic tree already, reuse reuse reuse. Usually made from PVC, they are almost impossible to recycle, so must be used 9 times before they equal their “real” counterparts in emmissions.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave to charity…

A donation instead of a present is a wonderful gift. Surprise, surprise, I would choose the Marine Conservation Society! However, when I give a donation as a present, I ask the recipient for their choice of charity, rather than imposing mine. It’s fascinating what you learn about people, my husband went for the aged… I think he fears I may pop him in a home – he’s only 40.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my daughter said to me, a plastic-free Christmas pudding, please mummy!

Really? YUK! I loathe Christmas pudding (except for the unhygienic tradition of putting the odd coin in – I enjoyed that as a child, thanks Great Uncle David!). This year in the UK, we will eat 25 million Christmas puddings and 175 million mince pies. If those are all shop-bought, that is a lot of packaging. 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping used for food will be discarded over the festive period.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. That really is an easy swap! If you do like it, could you set your kids/partner/dog to work with the flour and the raisins and make it themselves? Harder but more fun and there is brandy to be had…

On the ninth day of Christmas, my wrapping was Furoshiki…

The Japanese art of wrapping. The scarf could be yours, it could be part of the present or it could be a baby’s muslin. Learn a skill for life! If you can’t cope, use newspaper. If you don’t want to use the Sunday sports section, buy recycled wrapping paper. There are many out there but PomPom loves the recycled and biodegradable wrapping paper from artist Sophie Botsford.


Over 83km2 of wrapping paper will end up in our bins, much of which cannot be recycled due to glitter, dye, laminate. So choose well.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, zero waste recipes…

The best advice I have ever been given when it came to Christmas was to not shop for leftovers. Alright, I hear you, there will be leftovers so… Get creative, there are such wonderful recipes out there, Boxing Day turkey curry, Bridget?!

Here is one of our favourite waste-less recipes from Rose Harvie at Peardrop London - Use up stale croissants, chocolate cake, chocolate coins and panettone in a bread and butter pudding. It couldn’t be simpler. Infuse 100ml cream, 200ml whole milk with vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom. Beat 3 eggs with 2tbsp caster sugar and then add your infused cream mix, beat well and pour over your arranged pastries. Brush butter and sprinkle caster sugar on top if you’re feeling really decadent. Bake at 180c for about 30-40 mins until soft underneath and crispy on top.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, he mindfully said to me, let’s focus on traditions for our family…

I love family traditions; they are often so weird. Let me have a brief moment of indiscretion to tell you, my sister-in-law wants her own bowl of Twiglets at Christmas lunch, the drunk uncle wants toasted breadcrumbs alongside the turkey and my husband wants to listen to the Queen’s speech as though we were living in The Crown.

I just want to stop. I will enjoy more by doing less. I will find my quiet moments of joy in the mad rush of cooking, wrapping and decorating.

I will buy less and buy better. By buying better, I will enjoy more!

Happy Christmas!

PomPom picks: Presents that outlast the pram: