We all know that Christmas is a time for celebration and spending time with our friends and family, but it is also a time of the year that leads us to consume and waste a lot. Every year around Christmas Australian’s buy, eat, travel and waste more than any other time of the year.
Research undertaken by the Commonwealth Bank indicates that Australians spend more than $16.2 billion at Christmas –that almost $1000 for each adult! And of course, half of these presents are unwanted. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
So here a few tips to be a little more sustainable – both financially and environmentally this Christmas:
More is not always better
While it is nice to be able to give gifts, you don’t have to break the bank to do it. If you are having a big family gathering, rather than buying something for everyone, have a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa and allocate one gift per person with a fixed limit for spending.
Real tree vs. Fake Tree
Plastic Christmas trees are reusable but real trees are more sustainable. Unfortunately plastic trees are often not designed to last a long time these days so they are often sent to landfill and not recycled. Real trees are a renewable resource and they are usually locally grown and boost the air quality in your home.
While it was once a very solid tradition to send Christmas cards, it seems to be happening less and less now. Aside from the expense, it is often just thrown out after Christmas anyway. Making your own cards is a fun activity for the family and you can even use last year’s cards that you received. If you have children, you can turn it in to an activity and use your kid’s artwork as your cards.
Failing that e-cards are also another option.
The Wrapping Conundrum
While it is very much part of the fun of Christmas, one of the biggest sources of waste each Christmas is wrapping paper. We use more than 8,000 tonnes being used each year – that is about 50,000 trees! Alternatives to wrapping paper are reusable gift boxes, newspaper for an artistic look, the Japanese method of Furoshiki or fabric wrapping or environmentally friendly wrapping paper.
Steer clear of metallic or glossy wrapping paper, as this kind of material is difficult to recycle and hard to reuse.
Merry Christmas everyone!