Fast approaching Christmas is rightfully considered as the world’s greatest environmental disaster repeated annually. In Australia we spend 60% more of our income on Christmas gifts and food. Spending more translates into more waste - in fact, during “the most wonderful time of the year” Australians generate 30% more of household waste. Most of the Christmas rubbish comes from food, unwanted gifts, wrapping paper, decorations and gift packaging. Since more and more people are becoming conscious about the environment and pollution, we’ve put together a guide that can assist you in reducing your Christmas waste footprint by switching to smart eco-friendly alternatives.
Happy reading & Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!
Every single year in Australia $8 billion worth of edible food goes to the garbage bin. Large part of it is wasted during The Christmas period. Research conducted by KitchenAid has discovered that 9 in 10 Aussies usually discard around 25 per cent of their food during the month of December alone. There are few reasons behind such a dramatic food wastage. Firstly, there are still many of us that go shopping without a list of what we need to buy. Such approach often leads to compulsive shopping decisions - it is especially so during festive season when supermarkets and retail stores are full of ads, gimmicks and promotions that are hard to resist. Secondly, oftentimes we overcook driven by a desire to impress our guests and family members. Needless to say that leftovers after such feasts go often directly into the trash bins. And, finally, The Christmas period is full of occasions when we don’t cook at home but eating out instead - at such situations it is often hard to control portion sizes where all the uneaten food goes to waste.
So, this time around, try not to fall into aforementioned traps in order to waste as little food as possible: go shopping with your Christmas shopping list, do not overcook and when eating out ask to pack your leftovers and then bring it home. After all, Christmas is not about what you eat, it’s about being around your loved ones and spend some quality time together.
As to food sources, it’s also important to remember that your best bet in terms of sustainability is are local and seasonal produce.
In 2018 Australians cumulatively spent nearly 11 billion dollars on Christmas gifts for their family members and friends with an average citizen spending around 600 dollars. Interestingly, quite a big part of this expenditure - $400 million to be precise - was spent on 10 million unwanted gifts many of which were not returned back to retailers and thus ended up in landfill adding up on Christmas waste.
Research commissioned by ING revealed that about 25% of the respondents would prefer to receive “socially conscious or eco-friendly gifts” for Christmas this year. On the contrary, among the least wanted presents are candles, novelty items, pamper products, PJs, slippers, underwear and socks.
If you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint this year, why not to shift from giving physical gifts to surprising your loved ones with experiences? Such gifts are not only memorable, but also do not require any packaging, so it’s a win-win - for both a gift recipient and the environment. Another zero waste gift idea is to give donations to charities that your loved ones support and believe in. Handmade gifts and even second-hand items such as cool vintage and antique pieces are another wonderful and sustainable ideas. And as mentioned above, it seems that eco-friendly gifts (think Keep cups, reusable bags, straws, cutlery, etc.) seem to be appreciated by many. Plenty of options as you can see!
Shockingly, in Australia we use about 8000 tonnes of wrapping paper every Christmas which is an equivalent of 50000 trees. The truth is that you can easily avoid buying wrapping paper each year. Instead, use its greener alternatives such as old newspapers, recycled paper, children’s art or fabric. Don’t forget to ditch sticky tape and synthetic ribbons - those items add up to Christmas waste significantly. As an alternative choose fabric ribbons, cotton, or hemp twines. Following these recommendations your gifts this festive season will definitely stand out among others.
Be aware that most artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC plastic. To have a lower environment impact than a real Christmas tree, an artificial tree has to be reused for at least 20 years. Sadly, some of those are thrown away after only one season.
Real Christmas trees are kinder for the environment - unlike their plastic counterparts, a cut down Christmas trees were helping to remove dust from the air, but also produced oxygen and absorbed carbon dioxide.
If you want to opt for a less traditional option, why not to choose an eco-friendly wooden Christmas trees that will serve you and your family for the many years to come.
Tableware & napkins
Disposable tableware and cutlery are one of the biggest pollutants, so if you care about the environment it only makes sense to use a real tableware instead. As to the napkins, replace paper with fabric ones (how about linen?). As an idea tie them in twine and add some natural elements such as dried oranges, a twig or a cinnamon stick.
Once all that Christmas spirit is over, and all your family and friends have returned home, it's time to clean up the mess. Even though you've decided on trying to reduce your Christmas waste to a minimum, the reality is that there will still be something you will have to throw away during the festive season. If you are sick and tired of using single-use plastic garbage bags that contribute to the plastic pollution significantly, we are here to offer you a guilt-free garbage bag alternative - TOMbag reusable garbage bags which are made from certified recycled plastic, are washable, durable, waterproof and simply awesome!