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Sustainable Christmas Ideas

This Christmas, we invite you to deck the halls with boughs of holly — and other sustainable, biodegradable decorations! Christmas can be an environmentally friendly affair with a few conscious choices to help you cut down your waste and plastic, reducing your carbon footprint, and keeping the spirit of generosity alive by ‘giving back’ to the planet.

Buying gifts — sustainably

The golden rule of sustainable gift-buying is to shop local — the closer the shop, the less energy required to get the item to you. Beyond the environmental issues, it’s always a good idea to support local business, and there are plenty of places to buy unique gifts in our City.

Put thought into your gifts to ensure they aren’t going to end up unwanted or thrown out and choose high-quality products that are going to last instead of low-quality items with a shorter lifespan. Consider giving a gift from the below eco-friendly options:

  • Flowers (or a potted plant) - You can even grow these yourself. When choosing a bouquet of flowers, choose in-season, locally grown varieties wherever you can to reduce your carbon footprint. A potted plant is a great gift that will keep on giving over many years.
  • Edible gifts - Gifts from the kitchen are always welcome, particularly at a time of year when everyone indulges more than usual. Homemade gifts not only feel that bit more personal and meaningful but are a great way to maximise your budget. Homemade cookies, jam or even a cake are always a great gift/gesture for the ones you love.
  • Experiences - Give the gift of a massage or a voucher for a special restaurant, movie tickets, tickets to a music festival or something else that you know the recipient will enjoy.

Also consider the amount of plastic packaging that’s included with any gift purchases, particularly children’s toys. Choose sustainable options or companies wherever possible and take note of which packaging is labelled as recyclable. And if you’re given a new phone or gadget for Christmas, make sure you recycle your old one so that your e-waste doesn’t end up endangering the environment. Visit cleanup.org.au and click ‘Clean Up Mobile Phones’ to learn how to recycle your phone at no cost or drop it off at one of our recycling stations located at local community centres or libraries.

 

Wrapping presents

In Japan, ‘furoshiki’ is the art of wrapping gifts (and other items) with coloured and patterned fabric and has been popular in the country for over 1200 years. Instead of buying disposable wrapping paper this year, buy locally or make your own reusable fabric wrap in your favourite festive colours. Tie a knot to secure or make a bow with twine or ribbon.

The best part about using the furoshiki method is that the wrap is part of the gift. Your recipient can re-use the fabric for their next gift, thereby becoming part of a green circular economy.

Another alternative can be to use children’s artwork that’ they’ve brought home from school as wrapping for gifts, adding a personalised touch to your gifts.

And if you receive gift bags with gifts, hold on to them and reuse them with your gift giving.

 

Christmas card options

It’s become popular to send Christmas e-cards to your nearest and dearest, but if that’s not quite your thing, there are a few other eco-friendly options. A novel idea which has taken off in recent years is plantable cards. There are several online retailers selling these including some in Victoria. Not only is the paper recyclable, but the cards contain seeds which can be cultivated into plants once the paper decomposes. Win-win!

And why not hold on to any Christmas cards you receive to reuse the image on the front to create your own gift tags for future years.

 

What could be greener than a tree?

A real tree, that is! If you have always used a plastic-based Christmas tree, now is the year to discover the magic of gathering around a living tree on Christmas eve. If you aren’t able to buy a large living tree, a smaller potted tree (perhaps one you already own) will do just as well with a bit of creative decorating. Use coloured paper, wool or wood to avoid plastic decorations, and if you already own plastic tinsel, take good care of it to ensure it will last a long time.

 

Light up your Christmas, the green way

There are now plenty of fun, LED energy-saving lights available for your home or Christmas tree. LED lights use between 80-90 per cent less energy than traditional light bulbs. Consider turning your lights off before heading to bed, or if you are away from your home, and keep in mind that non-flashing LED lights are the most energy-efficient option. This tip has the nice bonus of saving you money!

 

Great meals without the waste

Sprawling family feasts are a highly recommended way to spend your Christmas day, but you can still avoid wasting food by keeping mindful of your impacts. The first step is to prepare the amount of food you think you’ll actually need. Next, keep or give away leftovers and put soiled food in the compost or food and garden waste bin rather than the rubbish bin.

You could also consider shopping consciously at the supermarket and actively avoiding plastic packaging where possible and where possible, visit bulk food stores or farmers markets for locally grown fresh produce.

If enjoying seafood on the day, make sure to choose locally sourced fish which is best for the environment. To see a sustainable seafood guide, visit sustainableseafood.org.au.

For more tips on reducing food waste, visit lovefoodhatewaste.vic.gov.au.

 

Decorating the table

This year when you decorate the house, try to make your own decorations. Whether it be leaf confetti for the table, buntings made out gum leaves/recycled paper or floating candles made using recycled glass jars. There are endless ways to create the festive feel around the house and get the family involved.