Welcome to the festive season, aka the wasteful season.
The retail industry has transformed the season of generosity into the season of materialism.
In 2010, up to 20% of the $7.6 billion worth of Christmas food was thrown away, according to Clean Up Australia. In 2015, it was estimated that for every $100 spent on gifts, $10-$33 worth was an unwanted and another wasted present. On top of this, it is near impossible to estimate the waste created by plastic, often tacky, decorations bought on a whim each year.
To make your silly season less wasteful, I have tried and tested the basics of a sustainable Christmas to create this list of waste free inspiration. And in all honesty, I am the least creative and crafty DIYer that ever walked. So, if I can create the following Christmas projects, I can promise that yours will be twice as good.
Nobody likes dishes on Christmas Day. But if you’re opting for a disposable option, choose paper plates over plastic, because plastic plates will remain in our environment for thousands of Christmases to come.
Visiting the best lights in town in a Christmas activity must. To save power consumption, and a few bucks, harness the power of the sun with solar fairy lights.
Rather than buy a new decoration this year, why not upcycle a lightbulb?
Manufacturing wrapping paper to rip to shreds is a wasteful habit, but it’s even less sustainable considering many wrapping papers contain plastics. This year, wrap presents in upcycled newspaper. To give presents a little festive flare, avoid plastic curling ribbon and opt for cotton or hemp twine, scrap material or garden cuttings. For added utility, wrap gifts in a tea-towel or beeswax wraps.
The Christmas Cards
Before you put the Christmas cards in the recycling, upcycle them into new cards or gift tags.
The Stocking Filler
Congratulations, you’ve finished the Christmas shopping! But on review, one pile is a little light on. Avoid the trap of buying a cheap stocking filler that the recipient will likely throw away and put your apron on. Pour love into your stocking fillers by baking a jar of biscuits. To go the extra mile, try a gingerbread house.
If the recipient isn’t a biscuit lover, try your hand at making beeswax wraps from scrap material. This stocking filler ticks all the boxes: upcycled, practical and sustainable.
The Kids’ Toys
Many toys require battery operation. According to Clean Up Australia, batteries contain harmful toxins than when disposed of, poison our environment. Invest in rechargeable and reusable batteries for the kid’s gizmos this year.
The Pet’s Present
We can’t forget about our furry friend on Christmas and retail outlets cater for this devotion by stocking plastic toys and plastic wrapped treats. Avoid the plastic overload by channelling your inner seamstress and sew this easy dog toy from scrap material. The bonus is being able to personalise the size for your pet.
The Party Starter
Like most grocery items, bon bons are packaged in an unnecessary amount of plastic. On top of this, the plastic toys inside bon bons are usually thrown away on Boxing Day, if not sooner. The few seconds of festive fun bon bons provide leave a plastic footstep in the environment for thousands of years. Upcycle a toilet roll and pre-loved wrapping paper to make your very own bon bons. The biggest perk: You get to write your very own corny Christmas jokes.
I hope this easy list has inspired you to reduce your waste this Christmas. If you get crafty, we’d love to see your sustainable Christmas creations! And remember, before throwing this years Christmas supplies away, think of how it could be up-cycled for next year’s festivities.
From the whole team at Gaia, have a Merry Christmas and a sustainable new year.