I was really interested to see Primark introduce new carrier bags to encourage people to reuse them. They’ve not exactly always been known for their ethical actions, but I really like that they’ve re-designed their paper bags to have red stripes, can be torn to remove the handles and bottom, and then can be turned into wrapping paper. There will be no logo left, so in theory you won’t know it started its life as a carrier bag! Given the number of bags Primark must use each festive season, this feels like a really nice way to encourage the masses to recycle.
As it starts to get a little chillier, I find nothing more comforting (or cosy) than a big jumper. When looking online I came across a New Zealand brand called Sheep Inc. Conscious about buying new clothing and the environmental impact of the clothing industry, Sheep Inc. is the first brand to invest in biodiversity projects that offset its carbon impact – making it the first carbon negative clothing brand.
It’s the time of year when you’re meant to reflect on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. There have been plenty of lows in 2020, but in a positive festive spirit I’d like to celebrate some of the highs.
Love them or loathe them, video calls have revolutionised our lives. For many, working from home is our new normal and – who knew – normal feels great for most of us. No more commutes, life-work balance, family time and more me-time, for all of us.
But spare a thought for those hard-working Cornish farmers, and those throughout the UK who produce the food we take for granted. Here’s an insight into how Zoom simply isn’t enough to make it through the working day. And as a proud parent, I should also add that this entire campaign was conceived by our eldest, George Nixon.
I’m a big fan of anything Mid-Century Modern, so I was delighted when I stumbled across Dwell’s selection of architectural gingerbread houses. There’s even an Airstream camper!
You can’t beat a real fir or spruce Christmas tree, but you’re always left with the decision of with what to do with it come a dark and miserable January. While a real tree has a lower carbon footprint than an artificial one and captures carbon dioxide while it grows, its disposal still isn’t great for the environment. Composting releases methane into the atmosphere, which is more damaging than CO2, and the burning of trees releases the CO2 that was captured while they grew.
A better solution is to repot a living tree at the end of the festive period, ready for the next year, which avoids waste and allows it to continue capturing CO2. Now, not everyone has the room to replant their tree (or the green fingers to do it!) but an increasingly popular option is to rent a Christmas tree for the festive period and return it to be repotted, where it’ll be ready and waiting next year.
There are businesses offering ‘rent a Christmas tree’ schemes across the country so head to your favourite search engine and search for places near you or enquire at your favourite proprietor.
The end of the year is always a feast of chart rundowns, which can be a bit overbearing and often gives me latent historical FOMO which I never knew I had and was quite glad to avoid – but this rundown of charts (well, data visualizations) is just the ticket. I love well-represented data and well-illustrated points and this list has some whoppers in both categories. I particularly love the lightspeed visualization, as it shows just what a spectacular feat it is to gain contact with Mars. There’s something in there for everyone and some poignant things for us to mull over as well.
We all have our slightly weird winter traditions, and mine is checking in on the gritters of Scotland. Yep, you read that right. In 2016, Traffic Scotland created this website, where you can track the location of all its gritters, and it is literally my favourite thing on the internet due to the wonderful names of the gritters. Although the site is entirely useless to me at the moment (driving to Scotland being currently illegal) there is something wonderful about watching Sir Andy Flurry chug across the Cairngorms, or waiting to see whether Gritallica will beat Luke Snowwalker to Glasgow. Every year new gritters are added; one of this year’s very appropriate additions is Yes Sir, Ice Can Boogie, but there are more to find.
John Lewis's Christmas advert usually wins my Oh Here I Go Again Weepy Award of the Year (seriously, one festive season I had to leave the room every time it came on). But this year, the coveted spot has been snapped up by the far lesser-known Irish brand SuperValu. In the ad, we see an excited child seemingly counting down to the arrival of Father Christmas. But here’s the twist – yep, you guessed it – the person he’s really waiting for is Granddad, who’s coming to stay for the season. There’s nothing massively new about the theme, but hey, at this time of year we all take comfort in the heart-warming stories.
Ultimately, it's a reminder that beyond all the tinsel, toys and Instagram shots, what we really care about most at Christmas, this year even more so than usual, is each other.
Keen to keep reading?
Check out our Review of the Year 2020.