In Australia, we’re unfortunately guilty of plaguing our wonderful landscape with a huge amount of waste each year. At Christmas time, this tends to get infinitely worse. Here are a few things you can do this Christmas time to help keep our country festivity-friendly.
Buying gifts for family and friends is a Christmas tradition for many people. When purchasing those presents though, here are a couple of ways you can reduce waste and make smarter shopping decisions.
Write a List and Check it Twice
Start your Christmas planning as early as possible. Work out who you need to buy gifts for, and scribble down some ideas for them. Better still, ask them directly what they’d like for Christmas, guaranteeing that you’ll purchase something that won’t end up in the bin!
The list theory also works when planning festive celebrations. If you’re hosting a Christmas event, work out exactly what you need, and write a list to take to the shops. Having a comprehensive list, and sticking to it, is not only less stressful, but helps reduce waste and saves you money, and it means you are using less fuel, while not contributing to the Christmas road congestion.
Quality Over Quantity
Instead of buying plastic, mass produced items or toys for children (little ones AND big ones), opt for higher quality gifts, and buy less of them. Look for gifts that are made locally, using sustainable practices. Buying better quality items means they’ll have a longer life span before ending up in landfill. Visit the local artisan’s market and support a local business while you’re at it!
This too goes for the food you serve up at Christmas. Choose foods you know will be eaten or are liked - instead of buying a 50 pack of candy canes no-one will ever eat, opt for a fresh fruit platter, or some raw nuts.
Re-use and Recycle
Just like every shop you do throughout the year, remember to use re-usable shopping bags at Christmas time. Remember to recycle everything that can be recycled; your local council will usually have a guide for what can and can’t go in the recycling bin on their website, so make sure to check that out, and if you need, write a note to leave atop the bin.
Cans, glass and hard plastics can go straight into the recycling bin. For soft plastics, check with your local grocer to see if they have a soft plastic recycling bin.
Pick Your Packaging
When shopping for Christmas gifts, try to choose those with less packaging, or opt out of the packaging where possible. Handmade or local artisan gifts usually come with little to no packaging. Before ordering gifts online consider if it would be possible to buy it locally, to reduce packaging and carbon miles.
When wrapping Christmas presents, ditch the glossy store-bought paper for something a little eco-friendlier, or recycle paper from the previous year. Before you purchase wrapping paper, check the cupboards for leftovers! If you must purchase more paper, opt for a recycled alterative, or dress up some leftover brown paper with a splash of ribbon.
If you’ve stuck to your list, picked foods that everyone likes, and still have leftovers, it’s time to get creative! Jump on Pinterest for some ideas on how to use leftovers or take those supplies that have remained untouched to a food donation service like OzHarvest or your local soup kitchen/YMCA.
Hostess with the Most-ess
If you’re hosting Christmas festivities, there are a few things to look out for, to reduce your waste, environmental impact and better yet, keep your bin as empty, and non-smelly as possible.
While it can be tempting to serve up that Christmas lunch on disposable plates, it’s time to whip out the “real” crockery and cutlery. Nine times out of ten, your guests will be more than happy to help wash up afterwards, knowing they’re doing the right thing by the environment. If you must go for disposable, choose an eco-friendly alternative like paper or bamboo, that will decompose much faster than plastic.