12 Tips for Reducing Your Footprint on the Earth this Holiday Season

This time of year can be magical and bring out the best in people and the community. It is a time to be generous and grateful for all that gives us life, support and so much more. We all love to give gifts to our loved ones to show them how much we are grateful for them being in our lives, create feasts to share love and laughter around the table. This time of year can also be stressful with added pressure to buy those Christmas decorations that line the shelves in the department store and things that are just things.

The holiday season generates 30% more waste than the rest of the year (including 8000 tonnes from gift wrapping alone or the equivalent of 50,000 trees). Within the first 6 months of purchase, about 80% of products end up in the trash – that’s a lot of unnecessary waste! This year, have a thought for the Earth and give it a gift of your pledge to help preserve it (it is our home after all) and minimise your footprint by taking some Earth-friendly steps.

Here are 12 easy tips for you to help with gift-giving, feasting, cleaning and simply making the best choice:

  1. Give Earth-friendly toys to children. It’s not always easy to find environmentally friendly toys for children, but here are a few suggestions;
    • Wooden toys, gift vouchers (which can avoid the chances of an unwanted gift being thrown in the bin).

2. Give an Earth-friendly starter gift pack to your friends. This can include an eco-friendly toothbrush, travel cutlery, beeswax wrap, reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup.

3. Regifting and Shopping in Second-hand Stores. Yes, regifting is OK! As is giving that special unique retro t-shirt you have found from your local Op shop.

4. Plants and seedlings are a wonderful gift to give to your loved ones this Christmas as they are great for the environment and are also beautiful to look at!

5. How about giving a gift of a voucher to experience a tour in nature? A snorkel, sightseeing, bush walking or wild picnic can be great ways to create a special memory with a loved one and for fostering the connection to nature and wildlife.

6. Get crafty and make your own Christmas gifts & wrapping. Your local newspaper can make a funky gift-wrapping.

7. There is nothing like creating the magic of Christmas by donning your house with festive decorations. But a large majority of decorations are readily available, however a lot of them are made from cheap plastics. Indeed, with one quick glance at the department store shelves, it becomes an overwhelming reality just how many cheaply made plastic decorations there are.

  • Search for wooden decorations (from certified sustainable sources) or
  • create your own (another reason to get a little crafty during the holiday season).
  • Your local Op Shop could also have a few treasures that can be reused.

8. When preparing that special holiday season meal, have a thought for what you are putting on the table. Food wastage and packaging are indeed some of the largest culprits of waste.

  • When you go shopping, choose products with the least packaging; buying local produce can often make this easier.
  • Choose certified free-range meats and eggs (these are now readily available from major supermarkets).
  • Choose products that DON’T contain palm oil – read the ingredients.
  • Choose sustainable seafood products (check out the guide https://goodfish.org.au/ and download the app). The choice is yours. Having a meal plan can also help avoid food wastage.
  • There’s no need to get that cling wrap out to cover the leftovers either! Use a reusable container or beeswax wrap.

9. There’s no need for those single-use shopping and produce bags! Use reusable shopping bags made of natural or recycled materials.

10. Use earth-friendly cleaning products that do not use harmful chemicals. Opt for a combination of household ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar or purchase eco-friendly cleaning products readily available from the supermarket

11. Create a butterfly effect of goodwill and support a charity and donate. You can even purchase special personalised products like adopting an animal (check out our Dolphin Adoptions). You can also support businesses that give part of the product sales to charity (like Goodwill Wines).

12. Be an aware and informed consumer and remember the 5 R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.