Making Christmas green…

I am feeling inspired by Santa’s supermarket recycling trip, so I have been thinking of ways we can all be a bit greener this Christmas…

Have you made any changes to your Christmas so this year is more environmentally friendly? Have some of your relatives or guests resisted any changes towards a greener Christmas?

Giving more sustainable options…

  1. Choose the item with least packaging whenever possible
  2. Be more creative with wrapping gifts, like using
    1. using kids’ artwork
    2. reusing wrapping paper from last year – and if you tie gifts with ribbons instead of using sticky tape, reuse of paper is even easier!
    3. use gift bags as more people are likely to reuse them
    4. cloth bags that can then be reused as shopping or storage bags
    5. practical items, for example tea-towels, tablecloths, and even hankies can wrap around gifts. This works especially well when the wrapping can be part of the gift, like a tea towel around a kitchen item or a sarong around some beach items.
    6. boxes (remember even Santa collects old boxes!) without or with any decorations on them.
  3. Save Christmas cards you receive, cut off the back half where someone has written and use the front half as a card or gift tag
  4. Avoid gifts that people won’t appreciate or use as that is just a waste of resources and encourages a materialistic attitude. Much better to give something you know they want or something very practical, or even better, for someone ‘with everything’, why not think about giving an activity or even a charity gift (like Oxfam gifts to struggling farmers and girls unable to go to school)?
  5. When choosing wrapping paper and cards, look for more eco-friendly options like being made from recycled or sustainably grown paper and without foil and glitter. If you scrunch a piece of wrapping paper and it stay scrunched, that generally means it can be recycled – if it unfolds itself, it is likely to contain non-recyclable elements.
  6. Shop locally as much as possible to reduce the transport miles of your Christmas tree, decorations, gifts and so forth
  7. Give sustainable lifestyle gifts like reusable produce bags, beeswax wraps, keeper cups, metal clothes pegs, shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes – these may be things people will try if given one but be too nervous to buy one for themselves

Bags, fabric and tins are simple ways to reduce wrapping paper waste this Christmas

Decorating sustainably

  1. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it gets chopped up afterwards and used as mulch rather than thrown into a tip or landfill. {Note if you do have a real tree, make sure you add water to it everyday to reduce the risk of fire}
    Even better, there are a couple of places that rent out real Christmas trees! You hire the tree for December, care for it and then they collect it and replant it – how’s that for eco-friendly! I haven’t one of these near me but it is a lovely idea.
    At one time, I did have a Christmas tree in a pot that came inside each summer to be decorated, but it got too big! Another year part of a gum tree fell in our yar so we used the fallen branch as our Christmas tree – I loved the Aussie feel that year!
  2. Reuse your decorations each year – if you prefer a different theme or style each year, consider having two or three sets and rotating them or swapping sets with a couple of friends. If you really don’t want to use the decorations again or just have too many, make sure you give them to someone who will – try op shops, kinders, school, community houses, food kitchens and homeless shelters.
  3. Choose the ‘better’ decoration when selecting new ornaments – for example, select metal and glass ornaments over plastic ones, look for recycled materials, and choose ones that will last (both in terms of quality and style)
  4. If making some decorations yourself, try using existing materials instead of buying new – there are some amazing creations to be made out of old magazines and newspaper for instance, and paper chains made out of junk mail or old Christmas wrappings is pretty and cheap!
  5. Instead of plastic centrepieces and bits of glitter, why not use some real greenery? Some gum leaves add a muted colour and lovely smell, and you can add in some rosemary, lavender or citrus leaves so contrast, too. For variety, you can even use potted plants (herbs plants are a great choice for scent and size) amongst the leaves, or instead of a horizontal display. The bonus is that any herbs can be picked from the centrepiece to be used as seasonings, too!

Recycled materials can make beautiful decorations to add Christmas cheer without harming our planet

General Christmas actions to help the environment

  1. Take our own shopping bags when we go to the shops – and definitely refuse to accept any plastic bags from the shops
  2. Plan to use any left overs so there is less food waste. In my family, we have the roasts for lunch and then left over meat and salad for dinner which reduces waste but also takes a lot less work for everyone!
  3. Avoid disposable things like paper plates, paper serviettes and plastic cutlery – if everyone pitches in, washing up the dishes isn’t too hard to manage
  4. Avoid bonbons with plastic nonsense inside – you can get or make bonbons without plastic items or with better quality items instead of just throwing out lots of little gimmicks. Better yet, get some reusable bon bons and really reduce the waste this Christmas
  5. Only leave out healthy snacks for the reindeer and boomers – glitter is awful for the environment and the animals so avoid that, but if you leave out carrots and grass or oats any left behind by the animals can be composted or thrown in the garden
  6. Buy food from eco-friendly places wherever possible – farmers markets are a great source of veggies for example

 

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