“The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.” – Henry David Thoreau
Christmas is hands down one of my favourite times of the year. I love to get carried away in all the silly season festivities, and feel no shame in that whatsoever. However, at this time of year, it’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves - sometimes less is more. In years past I have been guilty of buying WAY TOO MUCH, and not really considering what happens after. So instead of our gifts turning into landfill this year, let's all give something that makes us, our gift receiver and the planet happy.
The first thing I do is think local. This applies to pretty much everything - from your tree to your lunch or gifts. By buying locally you are reducing freight emissions and also supporting local businesses (just like ours!)
Also, our family now has a ‘one gift’ rule. We put everyone’s names in a hat and allow each person to take a name – that person is the receiver of their gift (if you don't have time to pull names out of a hat there's plenty of apps that can automate this for you.) I find when I have only one gift to buy, there's time to put a lot more thought into it, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Our favourite gift ideas!
- Growable gifts – indoor plant, herb pot (try using your old cans to make these!) Have you seen our Sow 'n Sow Gift of Seeds?
- Choose homemade and handmade 💜 Try making a bath bomb, lip balm or ornament!
- Keep cups, reusable water bottles
- Reusable bags
- Reusable food pouches and food wraps
- Green toys - have you seen our handmade Tinta Crayons?
- Give an experience you share! A trip to a winery, a workshop, a picnic bike ride, the list is endless
- A gorgeous earth friendly gift pack like our Bee the Change pack!
Decorate with nature! Make a succulent wreath or a real flower wreath for your front door. For decorations around the house - try collecting pine cones, fresh rosemary sprigs, flowers - whatever you can get your hands on! We have a couple of holly bushes so we love to use some holly sprigs around the house and on our decorations.
This year I'm making a centerpiece using succulents! All you need is a shallow bowl filled with a little succulent planting soil, and some small succulents (or cuttings from your garden if you grow them!) You can also add pine cones, beeswax candles and flowers cut from your garden to make it the talk of the day!
One of the biggest sources of waste each Christmas is wrapping paper. We have a couple of ideas to help you get around this, so why not try something different this year?
Do you have any old maps lying around? These look gorgeous used as gift wrapping! How about newspapers? They can be decorated with a spring of fresh greenery, twine or even fabric ribbons. Hold on to any ties and ribbons to use again next year.
If I get stuck and have to purchase Christmas wrapping, I try to select non-glossy plain paper that can be recycled or added to the compost. Also, if there's an option I'll choose to buy paper that's made using recycled materials. Check out the Christmas paper at Earth Greetings.
If you can afford it, Christmas is the perfect time of year to consider giving back. Whether that’s within your own community, or to a large charity that aligns with your morals. Personally, we like to adopt an animal or donate to an animal charity at Christmas. It’s a lonely time of year for some animals too!
Another way you can give pack is to donate or re-gift any unwanted gifts.
Unwanted gifts can be donated through organisations such as -
"On average, we see about 7 in 10 Australians receiving at least one unwanted gift. This year, the value is roughly $67 per person," - Kirsty Dunn, spokesperson for Gumtree Australia, told The Huffington Post Australia last year.
- Your local op shop.
- Kids' toys can also be gifted to a children's ward in a hospital – ring ahead to check.
Are your Christmas lights on a timer? Using a timer is a fantastic way to reduce excess electricity waste as well as keep you safe at home. Choose LED bulbs over incandescent, they use much less energy and money to run. We'd love to try solar lights but we don't quite get enough sun - if you do this could be a great option!
Say no to waste! Christmas can cause some of the highest levels of food wastage in Australia as we stock up for the holidays. It not only impacts on your pocket but also on the environment, so YES eat all the yummy food but try not to go toooo overboard (it's hard, I know!). Plan out how many people you’ll be feeding and try to treat it like a regular social lunch or dinner. Do you really need that second or third roast meat (leftovers are obviously okay if you plan to eat them all!) When you go food shopping, we recommend taking your shopping list as well as green bags. If you have them – reusable produce bags are a fantastic item to take shopping too!
Yes, Aussies do love their roasts at Christmas. But did you know agriculture and meat production, in particular, have a pretty serious environmental footprint. Some say they contribute over 20% of all carbon emissions – others say it’s a little less or more - but regardless, it’s an important issue and something we can all help to reduce.
A great way to help the environment is to try cooking a little less meat, and swapping it out with a vegetarian option. We happily forgo meat at all times of the year but for those who don’t – try swapping out one meat dish with a vegetarian one. You may find that eating less meat saves on your grocery bill too, so it's a win-win!
Some other great eco ideas for your Christmas meal: Cover your food with our beeswax wraps instead of plastic cling film. Say no to plastic cutlery and utensils - why not stick with your regular cutlery or, if that’s not an option, try reusable bamboo bowls, cutlery etc. Lastly, don’t forget to compost those scraps!
I know, it seems like an obvious one. However as we produce so much extra waste at Christmas, it’s important to know what to recycle, where – check your local recycling centre! But we’ve also put together a few do’s and don’ts -
- Plastic plates and cutlery cannot be recycled and will take centuries to break down in landfill – avoid them altogether!
- Aluminium foil can be recycled, just roll into balls or a 3D shape
- Mulch those Christmas trees or give to a neighbour who can!
- Buy rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
- Tinsel can’t be recycled. Avoid buying more – reuse the tinsel you have.
- Recycle old mobile phones, computers and tablets that get replaced at Christmas – check here to see where you can recycle your e-waste.
Choice has also put together a great list of what can and can’t be recycled at Christmas, take a look here.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog post! We hope you have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas with your loved ones. And by trying some of these ways to reduce our environmental impact, let’s all have a Christmas experience that we can be proud of! If you have any more ideas on how we can reduce waste at Christmas please share them with us - your comments are very welcome xx
We specialise in Australian, Eco-friendly, Nature Inspired Gifts for Your Home & Garden! Learn more about our story here