6 simple steps to a more sustainable Christmas

From dried orange slices to potato stamps, here’s what you should add to your Christmas to-do list

Lottie Dalziel

Tis the season to be jolly but tis also the season to waste more than any other time of the year. With Christmas decorating, back to back lunches and social gatherings and gifting it’s no wonder we often see our rubbish bin fill more than Santa’s belly. To make your Christmas this year extra special, here are six ways to reduce your impact while still sharing the joy.

Decorate

With a goal of spreading joy, not plastic this Christmas,  the best place to start is by decorating your home. You’ve probably not given it too much thought but glitter is made of tiny fragments of plastic, so where you can, say no to glitter on wrapping paper, decorations and table settings. Go natural and make your own garlands with dried orange slices on twine and craft a Christmas centrepiece with handpicked flora and fauna from your garden. If you don’t already have a Christmas tree at home try decorating one of your indoor plants or use sticks for a rustic look. When it comes to the outside of your home opt for solar powered outdoor lights and you’ll save the planet and on your electricity bill.

Celebrate

From Christmas lunch to social catch-ups all summer long now is when we tend to do more socialising than ever. If you’re hosting a social gathering, there are a few things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.  Serve a vegetarian meal over a meat dish, use reusable cutlery, plates and glasses instead of single-use plastics and recycle your wrapping paper. Yes, that’s right, paper is recyclable – even the glossy papers with a little bit of sticky tape still on it. Just avoid throwing any glittery paper in the bin.

No matter how hard you try, chances are there’s always a few bits and bobs left over. One of my favourite things to do is to send all of my guests home with a little doggy bag of leftovers. It means that nothing will go to waste and that your guests get to keep on enjoying the deliciousness that was created!

Craft

Give the gift of homemade this year with some TLC and a special personal touch. Play to your strengths – whether it’s baking, crafting or something DIY. A couple of Christmas ideas are:

  • Homemade chutney and jams in repurposed glass jars
  • Handmade beeswax wraps using colourful prints
  • Make personalised Christmas decorations from natural materials
  • Craft your own wrapping paper: get the kids involved and make potato stamps

Dress

With a busy social calendar, it is easy to feel the pressure to buy a new outfit for every occasion. But did you know that the average Australian woman wears just one-third of her wardrobe? Rather than buying something new why not wear something from the forgotten two-thirds of your closet or borrow an outfit from a friend. There are also more and more rent-a-dress businesses popping up.

Give

Give gifts with purpose this year. It’s easier said than done but choose wisely from brands who disclose their impact and sustainability credentials upfront. Look for products that are free from palm oil, B Corp certified, made responsibly and packaged in recyclable materials (or better yet, nothing at all). Another great sustainable gift idea is giving an experience, whether it’s a trip to the zoo or a weekend away. It’s a great way to create memories, not waste.

Donate

Online marketplace Gumtree calculates that a whopping 21 million unwanted presents are given each Christmas. Far better to specify to family and friends the items you actually need or want, then practice your “oh wow what a surprise!” act in front of the mirror. If you do happen to receive a present you’re not fussed about, donate it to someone who will cherish it. Look to your local homeless shelter or Women’s and Children’s centre in your area.Lottie Dalziel is a sustainability expert and the founder of Banish.

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