It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is also one of the most wasteful, unsustainable and polluting calendar events. From all the plastic packaging, to the carbon emitted from shipping and travelling, Christmas needs an eco overhaul.
There are plenty of ideas here to green up your act in the new year too, from the way you manage your food waste to how you dress for special occasions. We’ve put together ten simple tips to make this Christmas your greenest yet.
Shop Local From Ethical And Sustainable Stores
We all love to treat our pals at Christmas (and ourselves, let’s be honest), so this year why not shop from local, sustainable businesses? The benefits are endless to shopping locally. It supports the local economy, reduces transport emissions, promotes small businesses and you can usually find unique, hand-crafted items. Australia has so many awesome designers and makers that need your support this year more than ever, so check out our guide to sustainable shopping here. You can also find myriad designers through the Big Design Market, Finders Keepers Marketplace and Ethical Christmas Market.
Markets are also a great place for those wanting to support the little guys and local traders alike. If you happen to be in the Gold Coast, The Village Market is a no-brainer—it may just be one of the best in Australia.
Have A Plastic Free Christmas
It goes without saying that plastic is the enemy, right? Yet we still use cling wrap for leftovers, single-use cutlery and cups at picnics, and find those weird plastic trinkets you hiding inside Christmas crackers. Just a few simple swaps and alternatives will see you ditching plastic in no time. Support Aussie makers in the homewares and eco living section of the Ethical Christmas Market and check out our guide for going plastic free here.
Wear Something You Already Own Or Rent An Outfit
Did you know that the most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already own? The fashion industry is on the naughty list this year, with record carbon emissions, unpaid garment workers and mind-blowing levels of waste across supply chains. But you can go green simply by wearing what you already own. Opt out of buying ‘special occasion’ clothes that are designed for one wear, and you’ll be on your way to the green carpet awards without spending a cent. If you feel like you have nothing to wear though, why not try renting? Australia’s best fashion rental platforms are listed for you here.
Buy Your Christmas Lunch From Farmers’ Markets
It sounds simple, but by shopping at farmers’ markets you can seriously lift your sustainability cred. These markets are great for so many reasons—they’re plastic free, the produce is grown locally, your money goes directly to farmers, and food waste is minimised with all the wonky fruit and veg up for grabs. You can also find some great gifts ranging from craft beer and wine to flowers and handmade soaps. We’ve got plenty of other ideas to help you reduce your food footprint here—new year’s resolution anyone?
Recycle Wrapping Paper
Savvy and sustainable go hand in hand with this next tip. We go through so much wrapping paper every Christmas, and so often it ends up scrunched into a ball and thrown in the bin. This year try folding the paper neatly and storing it for next christmas. Or you can find other alternatives to wrapping paper such as newspaper or magazine pages, boxes from online shopping, paper bags from your farmers’ market trips, old posters, maps, sheet music, the list goes on.
Save Or Compost Your Food Scraps
Food waste is a massive problem in Australia, with 7.3 million tonnes of food going to landfill every year. Yep, you read that right. Use this Christmas as an opportunity to start thinking about your food waste. You could set up a compost bin or worm farm and use your scraps for gardening, or save them for a community garden. Save your veg skins to make a stock and cook a meal for a friend doing it tough, or donate food to a shelter or food bank. Check out our guide for keeping your scraps out of landfill here.
Gift An Experience
This year has definitely reinforced the value of experiences over stuff, so instead of gifting presents why not shout your friends a good time this Christmas? Give the gift of a weekend away or a nice night out for dinner. Maybe you can organise a camping trip or a weekend of wine tasting? Australia’s best sustainable getaways are all listed for you here.
Offset Your Carbon Emissions
We can’t all travel via reindeer, so this Christmas if you’re driving or flying to see family and friends, make sure you offset your carbon. This is one of the easiest yet most commonly forgotten ways to live more sustainably. Airlines will usually have a box you can tick for an extra couple of dollars to offset your flight, and there are websites such as Greenfleet where you can offset your driving emissions too.
Support A Worthy Cause
Christmas is the giving season, so instead of buying presents this year, how about you reallocate a bit of your spending budget to some worthy causes? We’ve got some suggestions for awesome Aussie charities here, or you can pick a cause that speaks to you. Perhaps you want to donate to Greenpeace or WWF, or support some local NFPs working in wildlife conservation and climate research. We promise you’ll have that same fuzzy feeling you get from shopping for your loved ones.
Drink Responsibly This Festive Season
We’re not talking about staying below the limit here–although you should do that too—but we’re talking about getting your booze from responsible places. Get behind your local winemakers, breweries and distilleries doing their bit for the planet. We’ve got all the info to make you a pro at choosing sustainable vino in our guide here, or if you fancy a G&T then check out Australia’s first green distillery.
Don't stop there, take a look at our sustainable booze guide for the festive season here.
Design credit: Kate Mason