Did you know that our waste increases by around 30% at Christmas time? Between unwanted gifts, packaging and wrapping paper, excess food and decorations – there’s a whole lot of STUFF going on.
If we draw our attention away from material items and onto other priorities instead, like time with loved ones, nourishment and gratitude - maybe we'd get more out of the holiday season. Read on for our Top 6 Ways To Waste Less and get more of what truly matters this Christmas!
Rushed gifts are the most likely to end up in the bin, so take a moment to think carefully about what’s important to your loved ones.
- Gift experiences instead of stuff. Are they trying to learn a new skill or language? Gift them lessons. Are they a theatre buff? Gift them tickets.
- Take a page out of Santa’s book. That is, make a list and check it twice. Stick to it when you go gift shopping to avoid grabbing excess items (save money this way, too)!
- Bake a gift. Homemade rocky road, rum balls or caramel slice rarely goes wrong! There’s nothing more thoughtful than spending your time preparing a gift for someone – pop it into a cute jar or container and you’ve got a winner. Check out our favourite Healthy Caramel Slice Recipe here.
- Regift thoughtfully. Regifting is the ultimate upcycling, and it doesn’t have to be the “cheap” thing to do! Choose items that are of real value to you – a favourite book or a piece of art you love – and be sure to gift them to people who are going to love them. You could even add “regifting” as a theme to your Christmas gathering – encourage everyone else to upcycle, too!
90% of Aussies usually discard over 25% of their food during the festive period (December 1 – January 1). Proper preparation and mindful shopping won’t only help reduce waste – it’ll save your wallet, too!
- Shop in bulk. Head to stores like Naked Foods or your local markets, to buy exactly as much as you need – without the packaging. Not only are you cutting down on excess food waste, but you can also bring your own jars and eliminate your packaging waste.
- Make a list. Just like gifting, if you have a list, you’ll reduce the urge to impulsively buy more.
- Make your own snacks. Instead of plastic-wrapped snacks and treats, why not make your own snack options? A couple of our simple favourites are:
Sharing is caring, but don’t share with the bin! Try these tips to get the most out of your leftovers.
- Become best friends with your freezer. From grated cheese to leftover meats, stock, and desserts – lots of your Christmas goodies can make it into the New Year with you. You can even shred leftover herbs into ice cubes to pimp your drinks later.
- Share. Entertaining at yours? Offer your friends reusable containers to save their favourites for later. There’s always plenty left to share.
- Compost. Ideally this will be your last resort after eating – compost yourself or find a local compost who can benefit from your scraps – check out our guide to composting (or compost-sharing) here.
Be the catalyst for the change you’re hoping to make – wear your values on your sleeve and gently encourage others to keep them in mind.
- A simple favour. Tell your friends about your goals to cut down on waste this Christmas, and gently (not ungratefully!) request that they avoid plastics and reusables if they’re Christmas shopping for you.
- Make it a theme. If it’s your party (or even if it’s not!) suggest a theme of “zero waste” to encourage guests to get creative with their wrapping paper, gifting and even their cooking.
Australians use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper during Christmas – enough to wrap around Earth’s equator nearly 4 times.
- Unwrap it. Use tea towels, recycled gift wrap, cute reusable boxes or old newspapers to wrap your presents instead. Make it a challenge for family and friends – get creative!
- Use what you have. Store your decorations away each year and use them for as long as you can!
- Shop second hand. Give Vinnies or market decorations a second life and save some money while you’re at it.
- Make it natural. Scour Pinterest for ideas using simple combinations of sticks and leaves, pinecones and even your own potted plants. Return them back to nature where you can.
- Make your own. Get crafty with old lightbulbs (homemade baubles?), Christmas cards (a cute garland?), old wrapping paper and cute jars. Pinterest is super helpful here!
- Choose timber, felt and ceramics over plastic. If you’re shopping for new decorations, choose items that can easily be recycled at the end of their life.
- Shop for a sustainably sourced Christmas tree. Or reuse your old one or a decorated pot plant!
- Light it up (efficiently). If you’re using Christmas lights, choose an energy-efficient option like LED lights.
Whether you take one item from this list or the full set, we hope you enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and become a little more proactive about your impact! Leave us your best low-waste Christmas tips below, we would love to hear them.
Words by Amy Fraser.