Holidays are around the corner! It’s a time to enjoy great food, lovely gifts, time off work and quality time with friends and family. But have you ever considered how holidays can impact the environment?
Overconsumption and unnecessary use of resources during the festivities is not only costing our wallets, but also having a detrimental effect on our earth.
During the Christmas period, the waste produced by Australians increases by 30 per cent (1), and one third of Australians expect to receive a gift they will never use, representing a total of $980 million in wasted presents (2).
Thankfully, there are many ways to have an eco-friendly holiday season. Here are eight tips you can easily implement.
1 Naked or reusable packaging
To reduce waste, opt for gifts with minimal packaging or avoid gift wrapping all together. If you really want to include the fun of unwrapping a gift, try using a gift bag instead of wrapping paper as gift bags can be easily reused. Otherwise, look for packaging made of 100 per cent recycled materials, and is also 100 per cent recyclable.
How many times have you received a gift that you didn’t like, or already had, and ending up keeping it in the closet to dust? Commonly, there’s this idea that re-gifting is rude or tacky, but what’s wrong with donating something to someone who might appreciate it more than you? If you really don’t want to re-gift to family or friends, consider doing a declutter and donating items you no longer use to a charity organisation.
3 Gift experiences
Gifting experiences instead of physical items is original, and it’s the perfect way to reduce waste. There are endless types of experiences you can gift: a dinner voucher, tickets for an event like a concert or an art exhibition, a pottery class, skydiving, and so much more!
4 Donate to a cause
Don’t forget Christmas is about giving – consider donating to those in need and supporting a good cause. You could also plant a tree in someone’s name, sponsor a child, or adopt an endangered animal.
5 Sustainable gifts
When you are brainstorming what to gift, include sustainability in your thinking. Consider products that are sourced ethically, and that can be used in the long term. Some ideas are a customised reusable water bottle, a tote bag, sustainable clothing, bar soaps, natural candles, and so much more! There are also many ethical organisations that produce sustainable items and donate part of their profits to environmental or social causes.
6 Ban single use
Say no to disposable cutlery, plates, and napkins, and have reusable items instead. If you don’t have enough, you can always ask others to bring some. Some catering services also offer a crockery rental service. There’s a lot of green washing around “eco-friendly” disposable crockery. Indeed, only the items certified compostable can go into the compost bin.
7 Under cater food
We all know that at most dinners and events, there’s going to be plenty of leftovers. Instead of preparing more food “in case there’s not enough”, under cater about 10%, to reduce food waste. Don’t forget to put food scraps into your compost bin, so that they can be turned into natural fertiliser, instead of ending up in landfill, causing emissions.
8 Choose a sustainable Christmas tree
It is better to buy a real Christmas tree plant, rather than a plastic tree as in general, plastic Christmas trees are made of non-recyclable, non-degradable plastics and metals which will eventually end up in landfill. Real Christmas trees can be disposed of as green waste, however, a potted tree is better than a cut tree, as you can use it for next year! Use a potted native Australian pine, like Wollemi or a cypress. If you’re tight on budget, you could also decorate a plant you already have at home!
These are just some of the actions you can implement to reduce your environmental impact. Join us in spreading this message to the community, and let’s all celebrate this holiday season by respecting our planet and creating positive change in the world.