Christmas is a super fun and festive time of the year for everyone, and it’s just around the corner now. This time of year often involves a little indulgence and a lot of consumption, and with this comes a lot of waste. From throwing away food leftovers and wrapping paper, to Christmas trees and decorations, Christmas is a time where we can all easily cut down on the amount of waste we’re producing… Without ruining all the good times! Here are our top tips for enjoying a a plastic-free Christmas without the guilts of chucking out mountains of rubbish and leftovers once celebrations are over. If we all make small changes each year, it creates a big impact.
Bringing the outdoors in at Christmas time is a stylish way to decorate your home. Get creative with the whole family involved, using foliage and other recycled materials to create decorations. A few large vases of garden foliage, combined with a Pohutukawa table runner interspersed with candles make for a delightfully festive table setting.
Ensuring minimal food waste requires more planning and a more conscious approach to buying. Packaging is one of the biggest problems when it comes to food waste so buying loose fruit, vegetables and dried goods is key. This way you’re not forced to over-purchase based on the packaged size available. Take the time to source bulk options where possible, perhaps a large wheel of cheese will suit your family better than buying 10 small packets of the same variety. When using fresh produce, rather than peeling the skin and disposing of it (this is still considered food waste, and lots of the nutrients are actually in the skin!), use a veggie brush to clean root vegetables, or use the peeled skin to make into crispy chippies.
It takes about nine years for a six-foot pine tree to grow and there are tens of millions of Christmas trees sold worldwide every year. If sent to landfill at the end of festivities, they take years to decompose and may release damaging methane into the atmosphere. If you can find somewhere local who will take Christmas trees to be recycled into wood chippings, this is a great option. If you’re looking down the road of an artificial tree, opt for purchasing second-hand and ensure you continue using it year upon year to maximise its life. Otherwise, a wonderful, eco-friendly way to get a Christmas tree is to buy (or rent) a potted one that can be replanted each year. Potted trees can be found in most garden centres. Once Christmas is over, simply pop it in your garden in its pot, then the following year you can bring it back into your house and decorate it, before putting it back in the garden again once Christmas is over.
No Christmas is complete without Christmas crackers. It’s just got to be done! A DIY Christmas cracker takes additional time and effort, but if you get friends and family involved it becomes a super fun activity. Use leftover cardboard toilet roll inserts and roll them in material. Fill them with small gifts or hand-written jokes then tie them up with twine. These look super cute and festive, and rather than being “cracked”, they can be pulled apart by each guest.
Gift an experience rather than a material item – a cooking class, tickets to a show or sports match, a lesson of some sort, a restaurant voucher or a massage. There’s an experience to suit everyone! A significant amount of waste when it comes to presents is what they’re wrapped in. Any wrapping or cards that are shiny/metallic are a no-go. Opt for brown paper or cardboard, old pages torn out of magazines or wrapping paper that states it can be 100% recycled. Brown paper tape, twine and a sprig of greenery add an eco-friendly yet festive touch.