Christmas is a festive time for families to get together and celebrate, but along with the festivities comes a large amount of unnecessary waste. From food to wrapping paper, there is a lot that inevitably goes to waste during what has become a rather consumer-driven holiday.
However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Fundamentally, Christmas should be a meaningful occasion, whether you are a religious person or not. Shifting the focus from the gifts to what’s important can yield great results for both the family and the environment. Here are a few tips to help you have a green Christmas.
That’s a wrap
One of the biggest areas of waste over the Christmas period is wrapping paper. A lot of effort and paper goes into something that is usually ripped straight off and thrown away. To do your bit for the environment, consider using recycled wrapping paper, or making your own wrapping from biodegradable materials – this has the added benefit of being more personal and creative.
Another option is to carefully remove wrapping paper and fold it away, allowing you to potentially use it again next season. If you want a more extreme solution, think about whether you even want to give gifts this year. This can save the household budget but also help you focus on what truly is important over Christmas.
Light it up (or not)
Christmas often inspires people to light up their trees and their homes. In recent times this has become somewhat of a spectacle and competition, with prizes being awarded for the best decorated and brightest lit home in the suburb. The electricity that is required to keep these houses lit is truly astonishing and represents a huge waste of energy.
If lights are a necessity, consider using LED lights, which require up to 90% less energy.
Buy in bulk
With large parties, lunches, and dinners being hosted over the festive season, it can be beneficial to buy in bulk. Firstly, you will save on the cost of items, which is always a welcome relief around Christmas time. Secondly, bulk products usually use less individual packaging which also helps you lower the amount of waste that builds up over Christmas time.
The tree is a truly iconic symbol of Christmas, and whilst some families are choosing to use cardboard versions or completely go without, most still like the sense of occasion that comes with decorating the family tree.
Artificial trees are made with chemicals, plastics, and even lead. As a result they are harmful to the environment, and potentially to your family too.
It is much more environmentally friendly to use a real tree – either decorate an outdoor tree, or use a potted indoor tree. Even organically grown trees are a good green option and can be recycled afterwards.
Many gifts, especially for children, require batteries (think remote controlled cars and other toys). However, batteries contain dangerous chemicals and are not biodegradable. Consider purchasing rechargeable batteries which will create less toxic waste and have less of an effect on the environment.
Cards are a holiday tradition, but just think about all of the cards, envelopes and stamps that are used around the world during Christmas. The world has moved online so why not consider sending e-mail cards instead? If you really want to send paper cards, consider making one out of recycled materials (and remember to recycle those that you receive).
Clothing is a popular gift, and as a result, Christmas time can inspire a big cleanout of old clothes to make way for the new. When doing this, remember to donate your clothes to those less fortunate, or provide them to charities such as the Salvation Army and Smith Family, rather than just throwing them in the bin.
With all the shopping that is done over Christmas, whether it be for presents or food and drink, try not to use plastic bags. Remember to take your own green or canvas bags for all your shopping. This is an easy way to make a big impact.
There are countless ways to have a green Christmas but these are just some of the easiest ways to do your bit. Having a green Christmas does not mean you can’t enjoy the festive season – but a few small changes can make a big impact.