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Green Up Your Festive Season

By Nicola Saltman, Senior Environment Officer, on behalf of Waverley Council on December 26, 2013 in Other

Picture: David Caldwell

Picture: David Caldwell

It’s that time again: Santa’s dusting off his red smock, getting ready to rig up Rudolph and his eight reindeer pals; hardware shops are starting to sell out of fairy lights; and tinsel-laden shopping malls are heaving with last minute shoppers armed with gift lists and that hardened tenacity of consumers in a crowd. Sound like you?

Whether you do the Christmas thing or celebrate Chanukah with presents, it need not cost the earth, or your sanity. From decorations to gifts, there are plenty of ‘greener’ options to spread the festive cheer and wow your loved ones, while reducing waste, using less energy and having minimal impact on the environment. It’s all about the gifts that just keep on giving…

Green Decorating Ideas

Fake versus real: It’s up to you. Some people love the smell, feel and look of a living Christmas tree in the lounge room – the catch being to do with it after New Year. Illegal dumping is penalised in Waverley, so it’s best to either chop it up and put it in your green waste bin or plant it in the garden.

It’s true that many artificial trees come from China and are made with energy-intensive plastics and metals, which are not great on the green front. But these products do have the benefit of lasting for many years so you can reuse them over and over again with no mess or fuss.

Alternatively, you can just save your cash and simply decorate an outdoor tree, existing plant, or fashion one out of bare broken branches for that minimalist look.

Light it up: Solar-powered LED fairy lights can make your home twinkle every night without adding to your energy bills. There are plenty of online and retail shops offering this alternative.

Get creative: Make your own Christmas or Chanukah decorations. Get crazy with recycled newspapers and cardboard, sparkles and glitter. It’s super fun for kids (if you have them) and adults alike.

Used treasures: Look for second-hand and ‘fair trade’ decorations in charity shops or check out ‘freebies’ websites such as Freecycle (check last month’s article on collaborative consumption for more online trade sites).

Green Gift Ideas

Get experienced – Buy an ‘experience’ for a mate or family member. Give away a paddleboard lesson, tickets to a comedy show or even a sky dive for the more daring. There’s no need to fidget with wrapping paper and it makes for good memories.

Paperless literature – A Kindle is on my wish list despite my love for a good paperback in hand. Or at least a voucher for online books for my tablet if the bank balance doesn’t stretch that far. You can access the vast literary world from your keyboard and enjoy the same words without sacrificing trees.

Drink it up – Reusable coffee cups (KeepCups or BYO, for example) aren’t new but not every caffeine drinker has one of these trendy little numbers. They come in assorted colours and help minimise the deluge of disposable cups that end up in landfill every year.

Share the love – Global charities like Oxfam have an array of clever offers that support to those that need it most across the world. Your loved one will be chuffed to know they’ve donated a chicken to an African family or water to a Cambodian school.

Go native – Buy a native plant for a balcony or garden, or a sachet of seeds to grow their own. Citrus trees are always great for fragrance and fruit to zing up meals (and cocktails).

Oh, and don’t forget to put any used wrapping paper in the blue recycling bin. Happy eco-friendly festive season to all!