Christmas is a special time of the year, but it’s also one of the most wasteful. Did you know the amount of waste produced at Christmas increases by 30%? From wrapping paper and unwanted toys to all the uneaten food that goes in the bin, there’s so much waste that can easily be avoided with a few small changes. This year, make your Christmas a positive one for the planet and people around you with these four tips.
4 ways to make your Christmas more meaningful and sustainable
Reducing waste at Christmas can seem quite daunting, but it’s actually much easier than you may think.
Food waste is a big problem at Christmas. According to a survey conducted by KitchenAid, 90% of Australians discard over 25% of their food during the festive period from December 1 to January 1. The best way to reduce food waste at Christmas is to avoid purchasing too much food in the first place. A few tactics that work well when planning your Christmas menu, especially for a large crowd, are to work out portion sizes and then create your meals and purchase your groceries according to the number of portions you require. If you’re still worried about not having enough food for everyone, stock up on a few non-perishable items which can be consumed later in the year if not eaten on Christmas day.
Did you know Australians use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper during Christmas? You can easily eliminate wrapping paper waste from your celebrations by learning how to wrap your gifts in fabric. But if you enjoy tearing open presents on Christmas day, simply avoid paper that’s glossy, has glitter or is made from foil as these varieties can’t be recycled. Planet Ark recommends wrapping gifts in plain paper as it can be recycled once you’ve finished unwrapping your gifts. Just make sure you place it all in the recycling bin at the end of the day and not the waste bin.
You also might be tempted to use disposable plates and utensils to avoid washing up, but this is one of the easiest ways to cut single use waste from your Christmas celebrations. It can be more effort to use crockery and cutlery, but with a bit of planning and some extra hands in the kitchen after lunch or dinner, you can easily eliminate this waste from your Christmas celebrations. Turn washing up into a fun event or use the time to have quiet and meaningful conversations with those near and dear to you.
Buy sustainable gifts or give handmade gifts
Did you know Australians receive over 20 million unwanted gifts at Christmas time? This not only comes at a cost to Australian’s bank accounts, but to the environment too. This year, take some time to consider the gifts you purchase for your loved ones. Are they gifts they genuinely want or need; how will they impact the planet when the recipients outgrow them; and how long will the gift last?
Purchasing planet friendly gifts is the easiest way to reduce your impact on the planet. Search for sustainable and ethically-made Christmas gifts or make your own gifts.
When buying gifts for kids, instead of purchasing the latest toys and gadgets of the season, follow the Four Gift Rule:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
Here are a few other planet-friendly gift ideas:
- A plant is a beautiful planet-friendly Christmas gift. You can dig one up from your garden, grow one from seed or purchase a new one. If you want to make it extra special, you can pop your plant in a carbon-neutral Pop Up Pot made from 100% recycled post-industrial waste.
- We also love this homemade Christmas playdough gift idea by Andrea from Heart of Bloom on Instagram. It’s easy and inexpensive to make and looks festive. You can find many fantastic homemade gift ideas on search engines, Pinterest or searching these Instagram hashtags (#handmadechristmas, #christmascrafts and #handmadegifts).
- Need to send a gift in the mail? Why not send a Gift of Seeds? Watching a seed grow is a wonder and a joy for any person at any age. In fact, gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies you can develop. Many studies have found gardening improves mental and physical health. A Gift of Seeds cleverly combines a greeting card and a packet of seeds in one. It’s 100% plastic-free and made in Australia from 100% recycled waste.
Give to charity
Christmas really is the most wonderful time to give! There’s no greater feeling than supporting a cause that’s close to your heart. According to a 2006 study completed by Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health, when people donate to charities, it stimulates areas in the brain and releases endorphins linked to trust, social connection, and pleasure.
But donating to a charity doesn’t have to come at the cost of your wallet. If you cannot provide monetary donations, you can always donate your time. Many charities need volunteers to support their services; it’s usually one of the most critical aspects of their organisations. Without volunteers, charities can’t adequately provide their services.
Charities such as Orange Sky require volunteers to help them with their laundry services, Meals on Wheels require volunteers to drop off meals to people in need, and animal shelters often need volunteers to walk and care for the animals in their care. The best way to volunteer is to visit your favourite charity’s website or contact them and ask if they need volunteer support.
Reduce plastic consumption
Plastic is everywhere, from toys to food, it can seem almost impossible to avoid, especially at Christmas, but there are a few easy tips and tricks for reducing plastic consumption.
Before shopping for anything new this Christmas, try to find plastic-free alternatives. For example, instead of buying plastic Christmas baubles for your tree, try making your own Christmas decorations. Salt dough decorations are a planet-friendly alternative to plastic baubles. They’re quick and easy to make and look beautiful strung up on a tree or hung on a wall. You can paint them, decorate them with flowers and foliage or leave them natural.
Another way to reduce plastic consumption is to avoid using plastic food wrap to cover leftovers or salad bowls, instead, use containers with lids or place a plate over the top of the dish. Small and simple changes like these will make your Christmas less wasteful.
There are many other ways you can reduce plastic consumption, and often once you start using waste-free alternatives, you will find additional ways to eliminate waste around your home.
Cover photo by Andrea from @heartofblooms_ on Instagram