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  • Writer's pictureMichal Garvey

Creating a waste-free Christmas

The holiday season is here and while it is a great time to connect with friends and family, it can also be a great time for waste creation!

Here are our top tips on how you can craft a waste-free Christmas this year. Remember, that every action makes a difference, so be sure to get your friends and family involved in the process and let's together make this Christmas a waste-free one.

  • Use what you have - it seems simple to say but so often overlooked. Christmas is timeless, so using decorations you already have and then re-using these year after year is a great way to eliminate waste from landfill.

  • Opt for second-hand where possible - if you are missing something special from the tree or mantle, look first in your local second-hand store. The more we can keep in circulation, the less demand there is for things to be created new.

  • Make it yourself - if you are looking for a wreath for the door why not look at what greenery you can use from the garden? Or if it is Christmas crackers you are after, what about looking into a set of fabric re-crackers that you can easily re-make and reuse year after year? Or maybe have a funny hat & joke selection for people to choose from and ditch the crackers altogether!

  • Tree in a pot - Instead of sacrificing the life of a tree every year to decorate your house, invest in one in a pot that you bring inside every year and dress up. Not only is this a better option for the environment but it also has a feel-good factor as each year you get to see your tree grow and flourish.

  • Cloth napkins - instead of paper napkins filled with toxic dyes, opt for cloth napkins that can be washed and reused. They also look and feel so much nicer and are easy to source second-hand or make from leftover fabric you have at home.

  • Reusable plates and cutlery - using reusable plates and cutlery is such a great way to prevent waste when hosting a group of people. If you don’t have enough, ask people to bring extra sets along for the day. Or if that isn’t possible, pop down to your local second-hand shop and take a pick from the many on offer. The great thing is that you can always gift them back to the secondhand shop once done so that they can be reused by the next person. Plus your dinner will taste better off nice crockery, rather than plastic or paper!

  • Fresh flowers from the garden - Using foliage and flowers from the garden is a great way to dress the table. Rosemary sprigs give a lovely Christmas feel and smell great as well.

  • Plan ahead - big gatherings can be a terrible time for food waste. Avoid this by pre-organising who’s bringing what so there are no double-ups. Also, make sure everyone knows how many people they are catering for and try not to over-cater. Bringing about as much as you would expect to eat is a good rule of thumb.

  • Packaging free - when shopping for ingredients, try and opt for packaging-free options. GoodFor, SWOP, Fill Good and Nourish & Thrive are our top suggestions for where to shop without packaging. Food packaging is often so unneeded and is prolific in landfill. If you can buy from local markets or take your own produce bags, this is a great way of eliminating waste from your shop.

  • Plan your leftovers - have containers ready and space in the fridge for any leftovers. If you have too many leftovers, be sure to send guests home with some. This may mean asking them to bring takeaway containers to take leftovers home in.

  • Buy preloved - there are such incredible second-hand options out there just waiting for a new forever home! Before buying new, check out your local second-hand store for pre-loved gifts that still have love to give.

  • Gift memories - we are all feeling more and more weighed down by stuff these days, yet the thing we often value the most is time. Gift time doing things with friends or family. From a picnic, a hike, visiting the art gallery to an adventure afternoon. There is nothing better than making time to create memories with those we love.

  • Make your own cards - cards are always such a special part of gifting, yet together with envelopes, can add to the piles of waste at the end of Christmas day. Look to make your own card out of unused postcards or surplus kids paintings (keep the good ones of course!).

  • Secret Santa - this is a great way to cut down on waste and can add a whole new spin to Christmas day. Nominate each person to buy for just one person as their secret Santa. Keeping who has which person a secret can also add another element of fun for both the buyer and receiver.

Gift wrapping
  • Re-usable cloth Christmas gifting bags - make gift bags out of fabric with a drawstring to close. These look great under the tree and can be re-used year after year to avoid the need for wrapping paper.

  • Kids' paintings and drawings - that pile of paintings and drawings that come home daily from daycare can become useful allies when it comes to Christmas gift wrapping. Kids often also love being involved in choosing which painting is for which persona and/or gift.

  • Tissue paper your toilet paper comes wrapped in - not a word of a lie. There are some awesome plastic-free TP companies around that have each roll wrapped in bright colourful tissue. Unwrap, pop the tissue aside and you have yourself a stockpile of wrapping paper ready to go!

  • Tape-less wrapping - we’ve googled it. It’s a thing. Wrapping gifts without sellotape is a great way to avoid small bits of plastic ending up in landfill. There are endless videos out there on how to do this and you will be surprised at how simple it is!

The list of ways to make your Christmas waste-free is long and varied. To save on overwhelm, we suggest starting with a few changes each year and then slowly adding more as each Christmas goes by. But the key thing is to make a change. No matter how small. So that the planet can breathe a little easier for many Christmases to come.

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