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A Waste Aware Christmas

Most of us are starting to get organised for Christmas Day. From menu planning to who you’ve got to buy presents for, one thing that doesn’t often get thought about is waste! Food waste, unwanted gifts, packaging, and decorations - it all adds up. But if we think ahead, we can all reduce our impact on the environment.

The area closest to our hearts, unsurprisingly, is food waste! While we want people to prevent food waste all year round, with most of us preparing to do a ‘big shop’ in the lead up to the 25th, this time of year is critical to think about what’s being bought that might end up in the bin. Here are our top tips for a zero food waste Christmas:

  • Plan a menu for Christmas Day, as well as the days leading up to and following it. Then shop with a list and stick to it. If guests are bringing a plate, be specific about what they can bring, so you don’t end up with potatoes six ways.

  • When you’re planning, have a think about what you’re likely to have leftover and how you might use it. A great idea is to have some pizza bases in the freezer to use up leftover ham or turkey for a quick and easy Boxing Day lunch.

  • Send your guests home with leftovers.

  • Have a clear out of your fridge and freezer ahead of time (making meals with what you’ve got), so you’ve got enough space to store any leftovers you do have.

Generally, well-intentioned, unwanted gifts often eventually end up in charity shops, on Trademe or landfills. While donating is a great alternative to the latter, it would be ideal if we weren’t in the position of having to get rid of things we didn’t have use for in the first place. So here are some things to consider before you shop this Christmas:

  • Talk to your whanau ahead of time about how you’re gifting this year. Consider a ‘second hand’ or ‘homemade’ theme.

  • For those hard to buy for people, why not donate to a charity on their behalf (like the epic Kindness Collective) or gift a native tree through Million Metres.

Packaging, whether from Christmas crackers, premade food, or gift wrapping can really start to pile up.

  • Consider waste-free games, like charades, for around the table, instead of the traditional, plastic-filled cracker entertainment.

  • Make your own Christmas treats, and even better, get your ingredients from a plastic-free bulk food store, like Sprout the Grocer.

  • Instead of using store-bought wrapping paper why not have a look at home and see what existing alternative you might have. That brown paper bag from when you forgot your reusable one (we’ve all been there), a tea-towel that could be incorporated into the gift, or even some newspaper. All secured with ribbon, great low-waste options.

  • Learn the art of Furoshiki, using a piece of fabric that is tied up, in place of paper and sellotape. The best part is you can collect it back up and use it again next Christmas and for birthdays and other celebrations in between.

And how about your Christmas tree?

  • Compost these instead of sending them to the landfill.

  • Check with Christmas tree farms or ask the team where you bought yours from as sometimes they’ll take them back.

  • Better yet, buy a potted tree that can be planted in your garden afterward or simply decorate a house plant for something a little more modern.

  • If you’re the crafty type, check out Pinterest for some inspiration on making your own that can be used year after year. There are so many fantastic options such as dried branches, old pallets, and other repurposed materials.

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