Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide and it’s not difficult to see why it is highly anticipated every year: the gifts, dinners and lights make December a special month.
As we start our Christmas preparations, let’s not forget that this holiday has sadly perpetuated the culture of consumerism and waste – in Australia, waste increases by 30% at Christmastime. However, it is still possible to celebrate your favourite holiday in an eco-friendly and ethical manner!
GiftsWhat are you wrapping your presents with?
In Australia, more than 150,000km of wrapping paper is used during Christmas – this is enough to wrap the Earth’s equator 4 times. Christmas wrapping paper is usually made of plastic, which contributes to our planet’s plastic pollution crisis. Try to wrap your gifts with recycled newspaper to give them a vintage look, or better still, use fabric wraps as they can be reused!
How are you sending your greetings?
Instead of sending physical cards by mail, let your loved ones know that you’re thinking about them this Christmas with an e-card. Many great designs can be found on different websites and most of them are customisable – here are a few great websites: SendoutCards (Worldwide), Greetz (Europe) Moonpig (Australia).
What type of gifts are you buying?
Scout out some local and ethical businesses for your Christmas shopping if you’re keen on purchasing well-made and long-lasting gifts: quality over quantity. Try gifting your family and friends “experience gifts” such as (virtual) tickets to a concert or a theatre to go zero-waste!
What’s on your menu?
Having meat on your Christmas menu is often considered a necessity but be sure to evaluate the carbon footprint of your meal. Though turkey or chicken has a lower carbon footprint than beef, having a vegan Christmas dinner is the best option. BBC Good Food has awesome vegetarian recipes for Christmas that is sure to impress the whole family! For meat, opt for ethical options such as RSPCA Approved Chicken where meat is farmed in environments with higher welfare standards.
What are you using?
Though it is more convenient, avoid using single-use tableware or utensils because our planet will be better off if we use reusable cutlery free of plastic! Instead of using paper towels, learn to make DIY linen or cloth napkins: it’s an easy but fun activity that encourages family bonding and benefits the earth, so it’s definitely a win-win situation here. Check out Back Road Bloom’s tutorial of how to sew your own cloth napkins.
Have you planned it out yet?
Ask your guests to RSVP and plan the meals you want to serve for the dinner in advance to avoid food waste, which includes asking yourself if/how you can use the leftovers if there are any. Make sure that you don’t overserve – it was found that 90% of Australians dispose over 25% of their food during Christmas season, contributing to the 5 million tonnes of food that end up in landfills every year.
- What about the Christmas Tree?
We all love a good Christmas tree with some shiny ornaments. If you’re using a fake tree, keep it and reuse it annually. For the people who like decorating real Christmas trees, many Australian companies offer hiring services. However, make sure that these cut trees are sourced locally to reduce the environmental costs of transportation. Otherwise, get creative – pineapples have been used to replace Christmas trees for decorations while still spreading the festive cheer!
- What about making your own?
Making your own plastic-free crackers or garlands is often a good alternative to the mass-produced plastic Christmas decorations found in supermarkets nationwide. Here’s a pro tip: use foliage or natural flowers found on your walks to give your home a festive atmosphere!
- What about eco-friendly options?
Before adding another box of glitter to your shopping cart, remember that glitter is a type of microplastic. Microplastic is harmful to ocean life and can cause death when there is a build-up of these substances in their system. You don’t have to miss out on the fun though, thanks to eco-friendly and biodegradable glitter on the market!