As the Fruit Mince Pies occupy the supermarket and Mariah Carey takes over
the radio, we’re reminded that Christmas is right around the corner. But with
2020 unlike any other year, it’s helped us put things into perspective. We’ve
watched the environment rebuild as we spent more time indoors, we’ve seen
people around the globe grapple with the pandemic, and we’ve been reminded
of all the ways we can do more for the planet.
Celebrating this festive season mindfully. From food waste to gift wrapping
and decorations, here’s our go-to tricks for cutting back on excess waste
over the holidays.
Swap out the wrapping paper
Let’s start with one of the simplest swaps you can make - wrapping paper.
During the festive season, Australians will use enough wrapping paper to wrap
around the Earth's equator four times - that’s a lot of waste that can be easily
avoided! This year, consider opting for paper wrapping that can be easily reused
or recycled. Be creative - you could wrap gifts in cloth or fabric off-cuts,
newspaper or old magazines, or even festive toilet wrapping paper.
You could even skip wrapping paper altogether and use a Santa sack for storing
presents. Use an old pillow case, some recycled fabrics from old clothes or
bedding, or even the gorgeous, soft bags that The Natural Bedding Company
products come in! When you think outside the box, the sustainable possibilities
Give the gift of experience
A survey showed that Australians receive approximately 20 million unwanted
gifts. So while a new toy, gadget or pair of socks might go down a treat,
sometimes they fall flat. That’s when the gift ends up in the back of the
wardrobe, never to be seen again. Save on potential waste by getting your
loved one an experience. Better yet, buy two so you can share it with them!
Think vouchers for a fancy dinner out, movie tickets, beauty treatments, wine
tasting, a trip to the zoo - the list goes on! If the person you’re buying for is
passionate about a particular cause, you could make a donation in their name,
or if you know them really well, why not hand-make them something thoughtful
Plan ahead with catering
Aussies will spend $554 million on food over the Christmas period, and sadly a
huge chunk of that gets wasted. That’s why it pays to plan ahead with your food
prep. If you’re celebrating Christmas with the family, tell everyone to bring
containers so the leftovers get shared around rather than going in the bin. If
you’re the one hosting, then carve out some time to write a menu and shopping
list so you don’t wind up with more food than you need.
It’s also worth thinking about where you shop; local produce has a smaller
carbon footprint as it’s travelled less to get to you, which means it’s less likely to
be wrapped in plastic to maintain freshness. The best way to shop sustainably is
to choose products that are in season. Use this guide to crosscheck your
Christmas recipes with what is readily available and in season, and wherever
possible try and opt for organic produce sourced close to home.
And it goes without saying, remember your reusable bags when you hit the shops!
Cut the clean-up waste
We know it’s super tempting to buy single-use cutlery or cups to save on
washing up, but try and remember who loses in that scenario (hint: the
environment!) Instead of using paper towels for spills, get a micro-fibre dish
cloth that you chuck in the washing machine and use over and over.
With COVID still lingering, skip the anti-bacterial wipes and go for low tox hand
sanitiser or the good old-fashioned hand-wash. And for ultimate organisation,
prep different zones for different types of waste from the day - from recycling
and composting to reusable containers and food waste.
Go easy on the decorations
We’ll tell you now - you don’t need any more Christmas decorations. You’ve got
enough tinsel, your tree is sufficiently covered in baubles, and you’ve exhausted
your limit on festive garden decor. As contagious as the Christmas spirit is,
resist the urge to go back to the $2 shop and add another five packets of tinsel
to your cart. Instead, buy your Christmas decorations mindfully and look after
them so they last for decades.
If you do wish to buy extra decorations, go for well-made and sustainably-
minded over cheap stuff that’ll fall apart by New Years’. If you’re looking to
offload old decorations that are still in good nick, try asking around at schools,
community centres, retirement homes or youth centres where they might
appreciate the donation.
Another eco-conscious hack is to go DIY with your Christmas decorations -
double points if you can use items already in your home. Try cutting Christmas
cards into stars and shapes, then adding string to hang them from the tree. You
could also have fun with these adorable Santa ornaments made from toilet rolls.
Get your kids or friends together and make it a merry and mindful gathering!
A conscious Christmas
When it comes to Christmas, it’s easy to get side-tracked and swept up in the
excitement. Waste doesn’t take long to pile up and if you’re not mindful, your
bins will be overflowing before you can say ‘Santa Stop Here’. This year, when
everyone is aiming to be less wasteful and more intentional, these tricks can
make a huge impact on your individual and global footprint.
We’d love to know your tips for making your Christmas more sustainable and
waste-conscious. Share your eco-friendly tricks in the comments.