The holiday season is notorious for its busyness, overconsumption and, of course, love. But what if we tried to prioritise having a more eco-friendly Christmas this year, to give our planet the gift of health as we don’t inject it with more plastic and waste.
For a lot of us, having an eco-friendly Christmas may seem daunting. There’s already a hundred and one things to do, why make it harder? Well, the first reason is because having an eco-friendly Christmas actually makes everythingeasier, with less money and time spent on things we don’t actually need. The second reason is because we only have one planet, and by having an eco-friendly Christmas this year, we’re giving the future generations a safe place to live.
So how does one have an eco-friendly Christmas? Read on to find out!
Gift giving is a very important tradition around the holidays, but the traditional extent of it is unsustainable, increasing greenhouse gas emission through the production of things we don’t need. Plus, we are adding to landfill in the long term. Buying less means you can have give intentional gifts, and don’t feel the pressure to buy for the sake of buying.
However, to some people, buying less mightn’t be the most enjoyable thing, but there are a number of games to make buying less more fun. Here are a couple of our favourites:
This is a classic, where each member in your family, friend or work group picks another person's name out of a hat, and they buy a gift for that one person. You can set any budget that suits everyone, and it becomes a fun reveal at the end of who got your gift!
Our Lemon Myrtle products are perfect for this game! With this one, you bring in a less-personalised gift for anyone to get and enjoy. With the crazy rules of the game, you might even end up with the present you came with!
According to whiteelephantrules.com, the official rules go as follows:
“1. Each player brings one wrapped gift to contribute to a common pool
To keep things moving along, there are a couple of limits on gift swapping:
A present can only be stolen once per turn, which means players who have a gift stolen from them have to wait to get it back.
After three swaps, the turn automatically comes to an end (otherwise things could drag on for a long time).”
Buy Eco-Conscious Gifts
If buying less isn’t an option at this time of year, the next best alternative is buying ‘green’ gifts. These are gifts that don’t have secret hidden expenses that cost our world.
Buying Australian Made products significantly decreases the impact of global transportation on our world, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its impact on global warming. Plus, your local small businesses will really benefit with a little extra love this time of year.
Alternatively, you could make a rule in your family to only give homemade or secondhand gifts, which stops you supporting mass-consumerism and helps older items have a second-life. You could even personalise the second-hand items by giving them a new coat of paint in the receiver’s favourite colour or alter a clothing item to fit their style better. The opportunities are endless!
Batteries are huge environmental hazards, and research is finding even rechargeable batteries aren’t as eco-friendly as we think they are because they also end up in landfill eventually. If these batteries leak and end up in our waterways, they can severely harm our wildlife and us. There has also been an increase in battery fire danger this year, with Christmas shoppers being warned about the threats when shopping this year. You can read about this danger from the NSW Government here.
Find an Alternative to Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper can be difficult to recycle, and is one of the biggest wastes during the holiday season. Tape and embellishments like bows and ribbons are also harmful on our planet as they can’t be recycled and are usually used only once before ending up in landfill, where they can’t break down properly.
Here are some alternatives instead:
Bags, either paper or fabric, can be a great alternative to commercial wrapping paper as they can be reused again and again and don’t need any extra embellishments. Throw in some natural tissue paper and you’re set!
If you open your gifts with care, you’ll find that most of the wrapping paper can be reused, especially from larger gifts. You could also use different paper materials, such as newspaper or old paper shopping bags, to wrap your gifts. Pick pages with nice colours, or go for the classic black and white look. It’s about the gift inside anyway, so people shouldn’t care what you use to conceal it.
Wrapping paper made from natural resources like hemp are naturally biodegradable, making it better for the planet as they can be composted rather than thrown into landfill.
Fabric is also a great alternative to wrapping paper, inspired by the Japanese wrapping clothfuroshiki.Once gifted, the receiver can reuse them for other gifts, helping create sustainability in other’s lives.
Eat Organic Food and Less Meat
During Christmas and the end of year, more food is consumed as we continue traditions and celebrate with our loved ones, but, arguably, having an eco-friendly Christmas starts with the food. As Farm Forward wrote in their Climate and the Environment Issue:
“Animal agriculture contributes to climate change, water pollution, and destruction of ecosystems. Intensive meat and dairy production are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, consume large quantities of freshwater, drive biodiversity loss, use vast stretches of land, and pollute our air, water, and soil.”
This is why sourcing ethical food products is so important, especially during the holiday season. Buy from your local butcher or farmers market to limit your impact on the environment, and always try to buy only organic and free-range products to ensure you’re supporting ethical practices.
You can also have a more eco-friendly Christmas by having entirely meat-free meals, or limiting the amount of dishes you have with meat and dairy products. For inspiration, you can look through the recipes on our website, like this Lemon Myrtle Roasted Cauliflower dish that will have your mouth watering in seconds.
Last Minute Tips
We mentioned reusing wrapping paper but you can also reuse Christmas decorations, holiday outfits, anything! Try to buy things with the thought of reusing them for years to come.
Christmas lights increase light pollution and use up carbon energy, which is a non-renewable source. Try swapping out your lights for solar-powered ones that are better for our planet, or get timers that you can fit to plug sockets that automatically turn lights off when no one is around.
One of the simplest things you can do for an eco-friendly Christmas is meal plan. This saves you time, money, food and the stress that comes with thinking on your feet! If this is too ambitious for you, a great alternative is utilising your freezer after all of the food festivities. This keeps food from being wasted and makes your life easier later on!