Christmas in Australia is undoubtedly special and has its own unique flavour from backyard cricket to lunches by the beach or the pool. The festive season has begun; it is a time for celebration and joy, togetherness with family and friends, party time. But all the excess that goes with it also puts more pressure on our environment. Tonnes of extra rubbish, surplus packaging and megawatts of flashing lights are the result. According to Planet Ark the international agency ‘Care Australia’ has reported that Australian’s use approximately 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper each year. In addition it is a busy time when Australians tend to travel, eat and drink more than usual.
With a little imagination and ‘common sense’, we can all reduce the impact of the holiday season on the environment and have a happy, carbon-friendly Christmas.
So now with Christmas just around the corner - a time of often overeating, overspending and producing more waste than at any other time of the year, we might want to rethink some of our behaviour and work towards changing our attitude. Collectively we can make a difference to the carbon footprint that society leaves behind. The good news is that it is possible to still live a little this festive season without having a big ecological impact. Here are some helpful hints and tips:
This year, do your best to go local when buying food for the Christmas meal and celebrations. It reduces waste on packaging and will also help your local grocers and farmers out - they need it to enjoy their own Christmas, especially in times of drought and fires. Buy only what you really need and what you are able to consume over the Christmas period. In addition, do use reusable plates and cutlery rather than disposable ones - these convenience items are not so convenient for the planet! Avoid plastic and individual drinks; instead make jugs of drinks and cocktails. At the end of the Christmas party it will be helpful if you prepared large and clearly labelled bags/boxes to collect waste, such as one for recycling, one for food, one for soft plastics and another for general landfill.
Buying a plastic tree can be tempting, but sooner or later they end up in landfills adding to the plastic pollution. Alternatively buy a potted living tree or native shrub, you can always replant it later, it also keeps your house smelling good. But if there is the old plastic tree stored away somewhere, please get it out again and use what you have - keep it green, don’t buy new plastic items for decoration. For example, you can always collect real gumnuts, paint in the colour of your choice and add as true Aussie decoration or buy them ready to hang.
No Christmas display would be complete without lights on the tree or/and around the house.
Reduce your carbon footprint and use LED bulbs for lighting. They use much less energy than others and turn them off when not in use to avoid wasting electricity. Choose solar lights where possible in the garden, they charge during the day and light up during the night using renewable energy without the power point.
Gifts, wrapping and cards
One exciting part of the holiday season is the gift of giving. This year please try to make a positive difference and give each other gifts that stand with values, intended to make the world a better place or help those in need. Unfortunately a lot of popular presents can include toys and clothing made by workers in poor working conditions and incredible amounts of wasted paper, cards, and plastic packaging. Choose eco-friendly biodegradable or recyclable wrapping paper. The shiny and glittery cheap wrapping paper contains a lot of plastic and cannot be recycled. Remember, normally plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfills.
When sending cards consider ecards; if you prefer handing out cards or gift tags with the presents choose the great range of boxed recycled christmas cards and gift tags FSC certified. (Forest Stewardship Council chain of custody certification is a voluntary process. It is a tracking system that allows manufacturers and traders to demonstrate that timber comes from a forest that is responsibly managed in accordance with the FSC P&C)
Ethical and sustainable gift giving is just a “search click” away with plenty of opportunities to buy online or in your preferred shops.
A Planet Arc article states:
“With internet searches for terms like ‘eco-friendly Christmas’, ‘sustainable Christmas’, and ‘environmentally friendly Christmas’ peaking this year at an all-time high (according to Google trends), we have compiled a guide to some of the best ways to ensure you have your most sustainable holiday season ever.”
Check out their article for more tips below in reference.
Have yourself a sustainable little Christmas
Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund, 2019 (viewed 11.12.2019)
Planet Ark, Dec2019 (viewed 11.12.2019)