With the silly season now upon us, it’s a great time to think about reducing waste and leaving a lighter footprint on our planet.
1 - Buy clutter-free gifts
Research from Commonwealth Bank shows that Australians spend $10.7 billion at Christmas time. Instead of buying gifts for loved ones that may end up in landfill, opt for experiences instead. Tickets to the movies or a concert, a voucher for a favourite restaurant or spa treatment are all great options. Or try consumables such as ethically sourced and produced chocolate and wine.
2 - Minimise food waste
Take stock of what you currently have in your fridge, pantry and freezer before doing your Christmas shop. Use up anything that’s close to expiration, and give shelves a good wipe-down before restocking. If you over-cater during the festive season, make a plan for leftovers. Share with friends or neighbours, or place in containers and freeze. Be creative with your meals – leftover Christmas ham is perfect for sandwiches, making pasta carbonara, sliced and served cold with salads, or make a hearty soup and freeze for the cooler months.
3 - Get creative with wrapping paper
According to Enjo, Australians use 150,000km of wrapping paper during the festive season, most of which is not recyclable. Save and reuse old paper, use children's drawings to wrap gifts in, or use a pretty scarf or festive tea towel. Old magazines and newspapers are also great for wrapping presents in.
4 - Save on energy
LED lights, solar lights and even the humble candle are much better alternatives when it comes to lighting during the festive season, or at any time of year. Turn off all electrical's at the source at night or whenever you leave the house. You’ll save on energy which is good for the planet and your electricity bill.
5 - Avoid disposable cutlery and crockery
When entertaining over the festive season, avoid using single-use items such as plastic cups, plates and straws. Both Target and Woolworths stock bamboo plates, created from sustainably managed sources. Use a large glass drinks dispenser instead of mini bottles of water or Pop-Tops.
6 - Be a recycling hero
It sounds obvious, but at a time of year when we’re likely to be consuming a lot more than we usually do, it’s more important than ever. Recycle cans, bottles, plastic and paper. If your wrapping paper is pure paper, it can probably be recycled. Do the “scrunch test” – if you scrunch up your paper and it stays scrunched up, it’s most likely recyclable.
7 - Go unplugged for the evening
Turn off your devices, light some candles and get some friends together for a night of connection. All you need are some nibbles, drinks and good board games for a cheap, cheerful and eco-friendly night in.
8 - Declutter mindfully
Many of us have a big clear-out after Christmas, which can be satisfying but adds to landfill if not done properly. Don’t chuck out unwanted items or presents; donate them to charity or offer them to others on Pay It Forward pages on social media.
9 - Connect with nature
Last but not least, get out into the great outdoors over the holiday season. Take a break from screens and devices, get the kids out in the fresh air and go hiking in national parks, visit the beach or just grab a coffee and head to your nearest park or playground. It’s a great way to unplug and reconnect with yourself.