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A Sustainable Christmas, New Year and Happy Holidays!

By Dr Marjorie O'Neill, Member for Coogee on January 7, 2020 in Other

Santa’s little helpers, by Sue Stainable.

I have always loved this time of year and have appreciated how lucky we are to celebrate our Christmas, New Year and summer all at once. We may not get the iconic White Christmas in the southern hemisphere but we get some major ingredients for the perfect happy holiday, namely sun, sand, seafood and the occasional cool drink!
I am also aware that this time of year is not so happy for everyone. Facing Christmas after the loss of someone very important in your life is not easy. It can also be a difficult time for those who are alone. Financial issues and the seemingly endless pressure to spend are further sources of stress. So, how can we address some of these issues?
I recommend keeping it simple, sustainable and neighbourly, and making sure we have fun along the way. It’s time to take some pressure off ourselves. Remember, we don’t always have to do everything for everybody, go to everything that is on or be anything other than who we normally are. By all means make your hairdresser happy if that’s your thing, but you don’t need to be a model of perfection in every aspect of your life. It’s okay not to have a new outfit and you don’t need to attend every party you are invited to or give a gift to everyone you know. A warm ‘hello’ is better than a mass produced card, yet a thoughtfully created online greeting to all your friends would probably be much appreciated and more efficient.
There are going to be some people who we have to get a specific gift for, but there are also lots of inexpensive options such as a framed photo or drawing, home-baked biscuits, a second hand book and even ‘regifted’ pressies – but be careful who you give them to! You can enjoy hunting around in op shops or, if you want to buy something new, consider quality reusable drink bottles with an inscription of the recipient’s name. Start busying yourself in the shed or the kitchen and prepare wooden cutting boards, relishes and other treats. They will be much appreciated.
Keeping it simple will not only ease some of the potential financial stress, it’s also good for the environment. I don’t think too many of us in the Eastern Suburbs are comfortable with spending our holidays generating the trash that can end up polluting our beautiful natural environment.
There’s probably not enough time to get into home brewing but we can also make sure we recycle our glass and cans. There is time, however, to buy a Soda Stream if you don’t already have one. They are fantastic, as anyone who owns one will attest.
If you want to really simplify things, give yourself and the family a real treat and reduce your washing, go for a swim, have a free cold shower at the beach, walk more, buy fruit and vegetables that are not pre-packed, eat with your hands… how much fun is this? Wear the same shorts and tops for days, as long as you’re not too sweaty – I’m being silly now but it is the silly season after all.
A great trend of recent years has been the popularity of street parties, a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours and develop a sense of community. Keep in mind that older people, teenagers and those living alone may not feel welcome if the scene is set exclusively for young couples with kids, so make sure your party is welcoming to everyone. A good way to do this is by offering delicious nibblies – cabanossi and cheese cubes hit the spot.
Why not share your own ideas for a simpler, more sustainable, more neighbourly and happier holidays on social media? Slip, slop, slap, seek, slide and don’t forget… swim! Happy Holidays from Marj.