We all know that Christmas is a time for celebration and spending time with our friends and family, but it is also a time of the year that leads us to consume and waste a lot.
Research undertaken by the Commonwealth Bank indicates that Australians spend more than $16.2 billion at Christmas – that’s almost $1000 for each adult!
So here are a few tips to be a little more sustainable – both financially and environmentally this Christmas.
REAL VERSUS FAKE
Plastic Christmas trees are reusable but real trees are more sustainable. Unfortunately, plastic trees are often not designed to last a long time these days so they are often sent to landfill and not recycled. Real trees are a renewable resource and they are usually locally grown and boost the air quality in your home.
While it was once a very solid tradition to send Christmas cards, it seems to be happening less. Aside from the expense, it is often just thrown out after Christmas anyway. Making your own cards is a fun activity for the family and you can even use last year’s cards that you received. Failing that e-cards are also another option.
One of the biggest sources of waste each Christmas is wrapping paper. With more than 8000 tonnes being used each year – that is about 50,000 trees! Alternatives to wrapping paper are reusable gift boxes, newspaper for an artistic look, the Japanese method of Furoshiki or fabric wrapping or environmentally friendly wrapping paper. Steer clear of metallic or glossy wrapping paper, as this kind of material is difficult to recycle.
While we all love Christmas lights consider reducing the amount that you have or using a more energy efficient alternative. Solar LED lights are fantastic, affordable and readily available! LED lights use 95 per cent less energy and cost less to run.
CHRISTMAS WASH UP
If you have followed the previous tips, you won’t have too much to worry about. As you pack up though, make a conscious effort to store away what you can so that you can reuse it next year. Things like wrapping paper, decorations and Christmas lights can be stored away and used year after year. You may not have spent a lot of money on those things and while it is tempting to get new things each year, that is just the type of consumer behaviour that’s fuelling the environmental challenges we have today.