The Ultimate Guide For A Sustainable Christmas
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The Ultimate Guide For A Sustainable Christmas

Suzi O'Shea

Suzi O'Shea

26/03/2021 • 11 minute read

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There is so much to look forward to at this time of year. The longer days, warmer weather, magical storms, light shows, time off work, and, of course, Christmas. Regardless of your religious affiliations (or total lack thereof), it’s hard not to get into the festive spirit this time of the year.

While Christmas is considered the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, it also can be synonymous with waste. According to Australian Ethical, our waste rises by 30% during Christmas time.

If you want to be kinder to the environment and have a sustainable Christmas, we’ve put together below a handy guide to shopping and preparing for the festive season.

Presents

Avoid unwanted gifts

Research by New Galaxy found that 71% of Aussies receive unwanted Christmas presents — that’s more than a whopping 20 million gifts. If you want to avoid receiving unnecessary gifts this festive season, the first thing you need to do is be assertive with friends and family. Let them know what you want and don’t want. This minimises the risk of any wasted gifts and hurt feelings.

The gift of experiences

This festive season, aim for experiences rather than material items. If you’ve known someone for quite a while, chances are you’ve exchanged many gifts over the years. By gifting an experience instead, you are creating memories as well as being cheeky by including yourself in said experience — after all, you can’t send someone to dinner and a movie on their own. As well as gifting experiences, ask others to give you an experience rather than some junk that ends up collecting dust on a shelf.

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There's a great new app called Shouta which has recently launched and allows you to give micro gifts. Through this app, you can shout a friend a coffee or a mani-pedi from the comfort of your own home. This is especially a great idea if you're far away from loved ones.

Wrapping paper

Now, let’s talk wrapping paper. As a kid, I remember receiving presents wrapped in old newspaper comics. They were colourful, easy to rip open, and, more importantly, reused. Sometimes, the ink did leave marks on your hands, but it’s a small price to pay to reduce your carbon footprint.

So, let’s bring back the trend of wrapping presents in old newspapers for a more sustainable Christmas. Head to your local news agency and ask them for old papers that they usually throw away. This way, you can be kind to the planet and your wallet – winning!

 

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If the thought of wrapping an expensive luxurious gift in an old newspaper makes you shudder, here are a few other reusable materials you can use instead:

  • Cloths
  • Mason jars
  • Brown paper bags
  • Scarves, thin towels, tea towels, or washcloths
  • Bottles and tins

Decorations

I love a Christmas tree and decorations just as much as the next person. But what I don’t love is buying new decorations every single year. Firstly, it can get very costly, very quickly. Why bother with decorations every year if you can reuse the same ones for years and years to come – after all, they’re only on the Christmas tree for a few weeks of the whole year.

With their (terrible) jokes, paper crowns, assorted toys or fits, bon bons have become a part of our festive celebrations. Instead of buying new ones every year, why not create your own?

There is a growing trend of making your own Christmas crackers using toilet paper rolls. If you have kids, it can be a fun way to get them involved in Christmas, or an activity to keep them occupied while you get on with entertaining your guests with some eggnog.

Shopping

Shop sustainable brands

For a more sustainable Christmas, try and support eco-friendly brands wherever possible. If you’re shopping online, a quick Google search will let you know which brands are kind to the planet and which brands are not-so-great.

Opt for bricks & mortar shopping over online

If you can, try and do your shopping in-person instead of online. I personally love to do all my shopping online, as I couldn’t think of anything worse than retail during the festive season. However, I do brave the wild shopping centres in an attempt to minimise the excessive packaging that comes with online purchases. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to head to the newsagents while you’re out to grab some old newspapers to wrap all your goodies in.

When it comes to online shopping, look for brands that either don't use too much packaging or use eco-friendly packaging to ship their goods. Plus, try to buy in advance to allow transport companies to bundle parcels into fewer trips.

#Buyfromthebush

Another great thing to do is to try and support local businesses, particularly those in bushfire and drought-affected regions, through the #buyfromthebush movement.

Founded by Grace Brennan in 2019, the #buyfromthebush movement was created to support rural and regional small businesses affected by Australia’s devastating bushfires, drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic. And just in time for the festive season, Buy From The Bush has joined forces with PayPal to create an online marketplace and encourage Aussies to shop local for Christmas. As well as helping businesses that really need your support right now, buying from local brands means your goods won’t have to travel far to get to you.

 

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Food

For a greener Christmas this year, have a look in your kitchen before heading to the shops. We tend to use a lot of foil, baking paper, and roasting bags when preparing our Christmas lunch. However, making simple changes can go a long way such as using beeswax wrap, recyclable foil, and reusable silicone baking tray liners instead.

For a greener kitchen, here’s a handy list of tips:

  • Try to use a dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand (if you’ve got one) and wait until you have a full load before turning the dishwasher on
  • Avoid opening the fridge for longer periods of time
  • Opt for paper grocery bags to carry food
  • Keep a recycling bin handy
  • Avoid excessive packaging at the supermarket. Wherever you can, try and buy food with less packaging and always remember to take your own bags.

Shop local

The next thing to look at is the food and consider buying local. Wherever you can, support your local butcher, baker, and coffee maker. This way, you’re not only helping local businesses that desperately need your support right now after a tough year, but you’re also minimising your carbon footprint as well.

Many local cafes and delis have started putting together Christmas hampers filled with local produce. Check out what your local cafes and restaurants are doing for the festive season.

Portion control

Next, take a look at portion control. Christmas is synonymous with food comas and stretchy pants. But does it really have to be this way? One hot tip from Best Recipes‘ is to use smaller plates – this will help avoid your guests throwing food scraps into the bin when they’re too full. Plus, my favourite tip on how to cut down food waste at Christmas time is asking people to bring a bottle of booze rather than a plate of food.

Consider composting

If you’re not already, now is the time to start composting. These days, there are many different compost systems to choose from regardless of how small or large your garden may be. You can find some compost systems that fit nicely underneath your sink or on the kitchen bench.  This will go a long way to help save any food waste all on Christmas day and beyond.

However you celebrate this season, Team Oiyo wishes you all a very happy festive season. Stay safe and have fun!

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Suzi O'Shea

Written by Suzi O'Shea

Suzi O'Shea is a contributing writer for Oiyo. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Communications with honours from Southern Cross University. Suzi has worked in media for over 15 years and has been published in several online publications as well as print magazines. She has worked as a freelance writer, speaker, and change management facilitator.

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