Believe it or not it’s December, and Christmas is just around the corner again! While the festive period can be a time of fun, relaxation and good times with those we love, it also often brings with it over-consumption of gifts, wrapping, packaging, food and alcohol. After trying so hard all year to be healthy and sustainable, it can feel disheartening to have it all seem to be undone in one day. So, the question is, how can we attempt a more sustainable Christmas and New Years period?
Here are some handy tips to try and reduce Christmas waste
If your old Christmas tree is on its last legs, don’t go out and buy a new plastic tree. Instead opt for a potted plant or tree from the house to become the Christmas tree or think of other creative ways to replace the tree. You could also collect sticks and build your own tree! Start with tying the longest stick at the bottom with string, then hang each stick in descending length above it to form the shape of a tree. Finally you can decorate it with pine cones, gum nuts and painted shells etc.
There’s so may options for sustainable gifting! From home-made treasures to potted plants and fruit or vegetable seedlings; from baked or handmade treats like chocolate rum balls and shortbread to the many ethical gifts made by planet conscious suppliers. You could make preserves or ferments in a pretty jar decorated with a square of material. Or ask for family members to donate in your name to a charity or good cause. Last year, my family and I made a book of experiences with vouchers that could be redeemed for trips to the movies, slumber parties, hugs, jobs done for a week, favourite meals, museum visits, a weekend in a hotel – and everyone loved it!
We create a lot of food waste during the festive period, which ultimately can end up in landfill, producing methane gas that destroys the environment. The best way to reduce the amount of food waste is by meticulously planning meals. Ensure you know how many mouths you will be feeding for each meal and write a meal plan and a shopping list accordingly. Luckily in Australia Christmas is a hot time of the year, so many of the prepared meals can be chilled and eaten for lunches and snacks later, to reduce food waste. Try a plant-based Christmas and further reduce your eco-footprint. If you subscribe to the Santos Organics newsletter you can download our seasonal recipe booklet. Full of healthy yet delicious recipes our lovingly prepared vegan Seasonal Menu has your Christmas spread covered.
When buying gifts, consider the packaging and wrapping that will be used. Try and choose gifts that are packaged in recycled materials or with little or no packaging. Instead of traditional Christmas wrapping paper, try buying a roll of brown or butcher’s paper and letting the kids paint or draw illustrations for your friends and family, or have a go at it yourself. This is a beautiful way of wrapping gifts. I once framed a piece of wrapping paper my sister wrapped a present in for me, it still hangs on my wall to this day. Get even more creative when packaging presents. Think of things in the house that you could recycle like glass jars, beeswax wraps, recycled gift paper or bags collected during the year. There are so many different options to reuse and make your gift even more amazing.
If you choose to celebrate Christmas away from home, try and avoid using disposable dinnerware, cups, and cutlery. Instead pack up the picnic set with plates, cutlery and crockery from home and wash them when you return, it’s really not that much more effort but reduces your waste a lot. Pack a thermos for coffee and tea and bring keep cups to keep your cuppa nice and warm.
Hope you’re feeling inspired by these quick and easy tips to make your Christmas more sustainable. When it comes to this time of year, the best advice is always try to minimise consumption across the board. Enjoy the wonderful hot weather, get out into nature, celebrate with family and friends. Make the focus of Christmas about the memories and experiences together, rather than the materialistic things that we will forget about quickly anyway.
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