Mum with six-figure salary rents presents and outfits for eco-friendly Christmas

Why buy when you can rent?

For mum-of-one Patsy Sandys, 35, having a six-figure salary doesn’t mean she’s keen to splurge at Christmas.

Instead, she’s keen to make her festivities both budget-friendly and more sustainable, and does this by renting everything from her party outfits to presents for her son Conor, one.

‘I think wealth can almost get in the way of environmentally conscious decisions, as people think “Oh, well I can afford it, so I’ll just buy it”,’ said Patsy, an investment director living in Clapham, London.

‘I think although last year was very hard for some people, it really made us appreciate that Christmas is about more than flashy gifts.’

Before having Conor, Patsy was already mindful of the environment, organising regular clothes swaps with her friends to avoid fast fashion, but once she became a mum in August 2020, she really started to think about the future of the planet.

She teamed up with some friends to create a swapping system, trading items such as cribs and clothes as and when each parent needed them.

The next step in her eco journey was to quit buying the newest tech.

She said: ‘I buy refurbished technology. So, I got an iPad from Back Market, where secondhand technology is refurbished, for £250 when it would have cost £500 or £600 brand new.

‘I liked it so much I even got my mum, Sue, 68, a refurbished iPad too, so she could FaceTime us.

‘It’s a huge saving and you really wouldn’t know the difference at all, in terms of speed, look and feel.’

Then in 2019, the mum began experimenting with online clothing rental platforms like Hurr. Since then, she rents clothes for events and parties rather than buying something she’d wear once then stash away in a cupboard.

And when Christmas rolls around, Patsy doesn’t bother buying her son the latest toy that he’ll likely be bored of within weeks. Instead, she rents them, sending them back months later.

‘I’ve never been a huge buyer of Christmas gifts, as I value making memories more,’ she said.

‘Now, for toys, I use a website called Whirli, where you subscribe and rent toys from a big library.

‘Last year – when Conor was four months – I hired a little seat for him to help him sit up and a little drum kit that played music and wrapped them up.

‘He loved them. The drum kit was his favourite. He also loved a plastic bouncy ball we got him.’

‘[When we returned them] Conor didn’t notice they were gone at all.

‘Plus, it meant he had five new toys to enjoy when I rented more, meaning he gets more choice, as I swap them throughout the year.

‘I give my friends Whirli vouchers for their kids for Christmas, too, because they can then choose what they want and it’s more sustainable than buying new.

‘There is a temptation when you have a new child to just buy them everything, but as you educate yourself, I think you realise new is not always best.’

For grown-ups, Patsy chooses experiences as gifts for her presents, rather than physical objects.

She said: ‘I’m mindful of waste. I don’t think it’s worth just buying something for the sake of it.

‘I want to make memories instead – as they are more important.

‘We gift each other experiences like vouchers for restaurants or hotels.’

Patsy hopes to encourage other parents to adopt a more sustainable approach to Christmas, offering a few simple steps to make festivities a tad more eco-friendly.

‘I think everything is about reduction,’ she said.

‘Small changes can make a big difference. Once you start, it can feel quite overwhelming, because there is waste everywhere, but you don’t have to be perfect.

‘You can make simple steps over Christmas, like reducing the amount of wrapping paper. That’s a really easy one and you’d really cut back on waste.

‘Food-wise as well, just buy what you need. I think just having a more low-key Christmas in general can make a big difference.

‘I just can’t wait to celebrate this Christmas as waste-free as possible.’

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