Christmas is a time for celebration, but all the excess that goes with it can also put a strain on the environment: tonnes of extra rubbish, surplus packaging and mega watts of flashing lights. It’s a busy time when Australians tend to travel, eat and drink more than usual.
With a little imagination and thought, we can all reduce the impact of the holiday season on the environment and have a happy green Christmas! Here’s how:
If a Christmas tree is a must for your family, make sure you get a real tree and not a plastic one. Although plastic trees can be reused many times they still ultimately end up in landfill. Real trees – they smell fresh, look more authentic and are biodegradable through your green waste. You could also look into investing in a tree or shrub which you could then plant in your garden.
Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. LED lights use about 80-90% less energy than old light bulbs. Make the effort to turn your lights off when out of the house or before bedtime.
Last minute panic shopping often ends up in unsuitable purchases. It’s best to be organised and plan ahead what you need to buy for Christmas day – make a list and stick to it. Try and get it all done in one shop to avoid repeat journeys and the temptation of buying unnecessary extras.
Give original gifts that will be of real value to your friends and family. Steer away from material presents – gift them a service or experience. Maybe create vouchers for babysitting, cleaning, massage or gardening. Give them a ticket to an event, concert or a fun day out with you. Is there something your friends have always wanted to learn or try out, but never got around to doing? Perhaps they’d like a guitar, cooking or painting lesson?
- Help them to become more environmental and give a membership to a car sharing club or help them save energy by gifting low-flow shower heads and energy saving light bulbs.
- Use your culinary skills to make homemade food or drink gifts. Your time spent in the kitchen is probably no more than the time spent gift-hunting online or at the shops. Homemade presents are often more personal, better for the environment and not likely to go to waste.
- For those who have everything gifting a charity donation that helps others or the environment is often the best way to go. Carbon Neutral provides eCards which allow you to gift native trees or you could calculate you friends’ emissions and offset their vehicle or household emissions at cncf/offsets.
Get creative with your wrapping – newspaper with a bright ribbon looks great or cut out colorful, patterned pages from old magazines to package up presents or use an attractive scarf and make it part of the present.
If you receive a new mobile phone for Christmas make sure you recycle the old one – visit www.cleanup.org.au and click on ‘Clean Up Mobile Phones’. You can register to receive a free pre-paid postal satchel that you can use to send your phone to recyclers.
Been given something you don’t want from an estranged second aunt? Don’t just throw it away – take it to an op shop or sell it on eBay.
Store away wrapping paper and cards that you receive – you can recycle them next year for wrapping and you can cut up old Christmas cards to make unique gift tags.
For anything else check out www.recyclingnearyou.com.au which will help you find out the best way to recycle in your area.
- Fight the Christmas Bulge
Feeling a little heavy after all the Christmas excess? Why not get some free exercise and help the environment at the same time. Check out www.cleanup.org.au and find out how you can volunteer to pick up rubbish and enjoy the outdoors.
Send an electronic card which does not require physical resources to make or distribute. Click here to check out Carbon Neutral’s Christmas eCards. Every eCard sent will help revegetate rural Australia through the planting of biodiverse native trees. You can choose from a range of beautiful designs, include a personalised message, and from just $3.75 send a gift that will make a difference for future generations. Click here to order eCards.
Stock up on green rechargeable batteries for any gadgets you might need to use. If you do give a battery operated gift give a battery charger too.
Invest in good quality decorations that can be used again and again and passed on to future generations or be inventive and make your own from recycled materials.
Plan ahead to prevent food wastage. To find out more about ideal serving sizes, storing and using up leftovers check out www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au. Compost any unusable leftover food to reduce the harmful methane
Opt for organic or carbon neutral beers and wines. Carbon Neutral supporter Taylors Wines has a great offer online which will save you 20% off their 100% carbon Neutral wine range based on the international standard for lifecycle assessment (ISO14044). Click here to find out more.
When choosing flowers for gifts or for decorating select ‘in season’ locally grown varieties.
Serve up locally produced food and drink and choose produce with less packaging. Set up clearly marked recycling bins before your party starts to make it easier for your guests and to make the clean up quicker. Deck out the tables with reusable plates and cutlery so they can be washed and used again.