How to have an Eco Friendly Christmas in Australia
by Katherine Hynes
The festive season is here, along with gift giving, feasting and fun, but sadly it comes at a cost - all that waste. So how can we celebrate the festive season without creating excess garbage? Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the fun AND feel good about the planet at the same time.
1. Make your own mini Christmas tree. Go for a walk, find a tree branch approximately 60cms long, and secure it upright in a vase of rocks, sand or uncooked rice. Decorate with ornaments you already own, or make your own using leaves, sticks and string. Minimalist, stylish and no waste. A potted plant from your home or garden also makes a beautiful living tree to hang decorations homemade decorations on.
2. Australians are tipped to spend over $18 billion this year on Christmas gifts, many of which may end up in charity stores, or worse, the bin. To avoid waste, choose experiences (such as movie tickets or concert tickets), give the gift of secondhand (via eBay, Facebook Marketplace or our Urban Finds), and choose reusable gifts designed to reduce waste. The Ekologi Store’s best sellers last Christmas included reusable products such as beeswax wraps, stainless steel pegs, and cotton produce bags, along with reusable coffee cups, bags, and drink bottles. Possibly due to COVID fatigue, this year’s trends also include eco friendly Australian made pampering items such as our ‘Chocolate in the Bath’ Gift Box.
3. Imagine grabbing a giant roll of gift wrap and running it around the Earth four times. That’s how much wrapping paper Australians use every year (150,000 metres). Zero waste your gift wrapping by re-using children’s paintings and drawings, reusable cloth drawstring bags (to be used year after year), Furoshiki fabric or fabric offcuts such as an old t-shirt (see YouTube tutorials), and tea towels (with the tea towel part of the gift). For gift wrapping, the team at The Ekologi Store reuses brown kraft packing paper from suppliers. Gifts are tied with natural string, and decorated with dried flowers, leaves and sticks. 100% biodegradable and 100% waste free.
4. When it comes to avoiding festive season food waste, planning is key. Buy only what you know you and your guests will eat. Use ‘proper’ plates, cutlery and glassware instead of any single use items - plastic or otherwise. If you do happen to have food left over, you can either freeze it or give to guests to take home (ask them to bring their own reusable containers to the party). Food scraps can be composted.
5. Due to the pandemic, all holidays this year will be ‘at home’ either in Australia or literally at home (let’s call it a ‘staycation’). If you are able to venture past your front door this Summer, be sure to bring your reusables - shopping and produce bags, coffee cups, drink bottles, wraps, containers etc. Keep those great waste reduction habits going wherever you are. Also, leave the car at home and go walking instead. Take in the sights, look up at the trees, relish what this beautiful natural planet of ours has to offer. It’s worth saving, and definitely worth any adjustments you can make to reduce your waste during the Christmas and festive season.
If you would like to talk more about reducing waste or you have some tips to share, join the conversation on our Facebook Group ‘Zero Waste Australia’.
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Katherine Hynes is an actor, voiceover artist and Zero Waste advocate. She is also the co-founder of The Ekologi Store – eco friendly products and gifts for sustainable living.
Photography: Natanya Shearer-Stanton