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Creating Memories, Not Garbage

By Nicola Saltman, Sustainability Engagement, Waverley Council on December 3, 2019 in Other

Reduce, reuse, recycle this Christmas.

Roll up your festive sleeves, folks, the silly season’s almost here. It’s also the time us Aussies create 30 per cent more waste than any other period. That’s a whole lot more stuff going to landfill (think packaging, wrapping, unwanted gifts and uneaten food).
With plenty of time to dust off the stockings, plan for family feasts and seek out the perfect presents, we’ve got you covered with simple tips to help make it a cranking celebration – with less garbage and a happier planet.

Gift wrapping
Australians use more than 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper during Christmas – enough to wrap around Earth’s equator nearly four times. More often than not, it’s plastic-coated, which sadly means it can’t be recycled.
Use alternatives such as:
• Recycled paper.
• Fabric or tea towel.
• Reusable tote bags.
• A jar for small gifts.
• Old calendars, magazines, newspapers.
• Don’t wrap!
• Send e-cards to loved ones overseas instead.
If you receive gift-wrapped presents, keep the paper and ribbon for future use to reduce waste.

Food glorious food
Around 90 per cent of the population throw out more than a quarter of all food from the festive season (December 1 to January 1). To avoid food waste and reduce food going to landfill:
• Meal plan to avoid waste.
• Make it a plant-based feast. Satellite imagery shows 40 per cent of Earth’s land surface is now cleared for food production, 70-90 per cent of which is for meat. Google recipes for inspiration.
• To store leftovers, use beeswax wraps and containers rather than clingwrap.
• Short on plates and cutlery? Ask friends to BYO these items and avoid plastic disposables.

Seeking alternatives for the traditional Christmas tree?
• Try a stack of books or use an existing pot plant.
• Try fashioning one out of bare broken branches for that minimalist look.
• Opt for a no-fuss artificial tree that you can re-use year after year.
• Use or make decorations from natural, recycled or second-hand materials. There are stacks of ideas on Pinterest and YouTube.
• Use solar-powered LED fairy lights to make your house twinkle without the energy load.

Good gifts
Aussies receive more than 20 million unwanted Christmas gifts. Make your gifts count:
• Choose experiences over stuff, like cooking or art classes, music lessons, movie or theatre tickets, or a voucher to try a new skill.
• Buy second-hand. Local op-shops are a treasure trove!
• Give equipment to fuel passions, family fun or a fitter new year. For instance, camping gear, games, bicycles and cooking utensils.
• Make homemade treats such as jams and chutney.
• Give a gift to grow, like seeds, herbs or a gardening set. A citrus tree is always good for fragrance and fruit to zing up meals (and cocktails).
• Donate to a loved one’s chosen charity.
• Support retailers in drought-affected areas through @BuyfromtheBush on Facebook.
Oh, and opt for a staycation to avoid air miles, traffic and parking hassles.

Wishing you all a safe and fun festive season.

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