No matter what December holiday you celebrate, chances are, all that gift giving, merriment and feasting will make it one of the most wasteful times of the year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. From opting for more mindful gifts to swapping out wrapping paper for something more sustainable, here are seven ways you can minimise waste this festive season.
Bring reusable bags
How often do you get home from Christmas shopping with a million bags in your arms? Make the switch to reusable and bring a few packable totes every time you venture out. It’ll make navigating through the crowds a lot easier, too, and your house won’t end up massively cluttered with plastic and paper shopping bags come 26th December.
Opt for a reusable advent calendar
Especially if you have kids, advent calendars can be a big highlight of the Christmas season. But, buying a brand new one made of plastic, foil and cardboard every season isn’t the most sustainable way to go. Instead, get a fabric or wooden one that can be used year after year, and you can fill it with whatever little treats you choose.
Gift experiences instead of things
As we all start realising that we have too much stuff, it’s important to think about how this season of gifting contributes to that. That’s why giving an experience rather than an actual item is a great option. If there’s a restaurant you love and you know someone on your list would love it too, why not get them a gift card for that restaurant? If you have a craft-lover on your list, get them a voucher to work with their hands at a florist like McQueens Flowers or for pottery classes. The options are endless.
Don’t use wrapping paper
Think about how much wrapping paper one Christmas morning produces, and consider that a lot of that paper can’t be recycled because of the ink that makes those festive prints and patterns. This year, swap your paper out for something reusable, like a pretty scarf or a tote bag. There will still be a big reveal, and they’ll get a bonus present in that wrapping alternative.
If you do want to buy someone something tangible, consider shopping locally. When you buy from local craftspeople, you’re supporting the local economy. If you do need to order something online, a good rule of thumb to remember is that the faster something gets to you, the more wasteful it is. Shipping by air is worse for the environment, so choose ground shipping if you can. Also, before you checkout, make sure you’re asking for plastic-free packaging where possible. That goes for online shopping and traditional retail.
Take it back to basics and use items around your house to make it festive. Stringing cranberry and popcorn makes for pretty (and biodegradable) garland. You can also collect branches and leaves from outside and make wreaths with that. If you do have feel the need to purchase decorations, opt for good quality ones that can be used next year, both in terms of lasting and with no year-specific designs. There’s an ongoing debate about whether real trees or artificial ones are better for the environment. If you’ve got a plastic tree, keep using it to get the most from it. If you’re going for a real one, buy it locally and dispose of it properly at the end of the season.
Limit food waste
Food is such a big part of the festive season, but a lot of people make the mistake of preparing too much food for their gatherings. Try to carefully plan the meals you’re hosting so you don’t end up with too many leftovers. If there are leftovers, make sure you compost it, and donate the non-perishable items to a food bank.
Lead image: @mcqueensflowers
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Written by - Tara MacInnis