Christmas Day is just around the corner… Can you believe it?!
As I’m sure a lot of you may know by now, Christmas Day is not the Earth’s favourite day of the year… Humans get obsessed with overconsuming, excessive consumption and creating a WHOLE lot of waste during this holiday, and the planet has to deal with all of the consequences.
But for you fellow Christmas lovers, I’m here to help you change that! With these easy tips, you can make your Christmas Day a holly jolly sustainable one:
Christmas is about giving… But not just about presents!
I bet you’ve all received a gift at one point or another that you shoved to the back of the cupboard never to be seen again… I certainly have! And that’s the exact thing that we want to avoid this Christmas.
Giving presents just because you feel like you have to, is exactly how waste and excessive consumerism is caused. If we take away the idea that you have to give gifts at Christmas, I have no doubt that what you end up giving will be so much more valuable.
Give because you want to and because you’ve thought of something meaningful… Not because you believe it’s a requirement. Think long and hard about it and always remember that your love for someone is not justified by how much money you spend, the number of gifts, or even the presents at all.
But some people are just present-givers through and through, and that’s a wonderful thing! So here are a few thoughtful ways that you can give gifts at Christmas without contributing to the extraordinary magnitude of waste:
Oh, and PS – David Sheldrick is my favourite animal sponsorship program by the way… I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t love receiving a fostered baby elephant as a gift!
The problem with traditional wrapping paper is that it’s not recyclable… So once all of those pretty presents have been unwrapped, the paper is going to end up in the landfill where it will suffocate and release a tonne of emissions.
The UK alone goes through over 100 million rolls of this nasty stuff, which is enough to wrap around the Earth’s equator 9 times! And it’s about 50,000 trees worth of paper too.
So instead of filling up landfill with thousands of kilometres of plastic-lined paper this Christmas, here are some zero waste wrapping paper alternatives that you should use instead:
Brown paper, newspaper (both compostable), old calendars, maps, magazines, chip packets (yep, you heard me), scrap paper, basket/hampers, old clothing/fabric or just don’t wrap them at all!
It’s not just about what you give… It’s also about what you receive! If you receive a gift wrapped in wrapping paper that’s non-recyclable, unwrap it carefully and try and reuse it.
Be conscious of the way you dispose of things, and try and reuse or repurpose wherever possible!
Instead of traditional stickers or plastic gift tags, I have a super easy and simple solution for you…
Use some leaves!
Go outside and grab some fallen leaves (don’t pick them from the tree… The tree won’t like that) write on them, tie them onto your gift or stick them on with paper tape and you’re good to go!
It’s natural, biodegradable, compostable, zero waste, and totally free! I personally think it looks super beautiful too.
Christmas crackers, Christmas hats and all that good – but wasteful – stuff. If these are things that your Christmas table cannot exist without… Fret not! You can make them less wasteful with a few simple substitutions:
+ Christmas Crackers
You can get reusable Christmas crackers, make your own (which could easily be zero waste), OR just go without. Ditching them might not be everyone’s first choice, but if you don’t really need them, don’t have them!
+ Paper Hats
Make your own out of tissue paper or newspaper… They would take practically no time to make, and they can be composted at the end of their life too – it’s a win-win!
Instead of the traditional paraffin wax candles, go for organic beeswax ones instead!
Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum, which is created using the sludge at the bottom of the barrel after making some of the things that the environment hates the most; petrol, jet fuel, diesel and road tar… Doesn’t sound too great, does it?
Not to mention that it pollutes the air in your home – so try and opt for beeswax or sustainably sourced soy candles instead!
Thinking of going for disposable plates and cutlery? I think you can probably guess what I’m going to say… PLEASE DON’T DO IT!
Use the tableware that you already have, and if you don’t have enough for all of the guests, just ask a friend or family member to bring some extras. If that really doesn’t suit, go for compostable items instead.
Christmas is the time of year when the most food is wasted. Australian’s spend 10 billion dollars on food during the holiday season, and 3.5 billion dollars worth of it is said to end up in landfill.
Not to mention that in the UK alone, 17 million Brussel sprouts, 11 million carrots, 11 million roast potatoes, 74 million mince pies and the equivalent of 2 million turkeys are said to be wasted… It’s a serious problem, to say the least.
So instead of contributing to these already staggering numbers, here’s what you can do to help minimize your food waste:
How many people are coming? What do you want to make? Can you make it with ingredients you might already have? What are the exact quantities you’ll need? Can you get it from a bulk food store in that exact amount?
Going to the supermarket without any prior plan is how you’ll end up with too much food, and a huge amount of waste. So plan, plan, plan, plan, PLAN!
+ Make a list
Be precise with it! And then check the list twice… Maybe even 3 times.
+ Get LESS than what you think you’ll need!
I can guarantee you’ll still have leftovers! Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs.
+ Keep it simple
A lot of people like to try new recipes at Christmas and impress their guests… Often using ingredients that they won’t use for anything else, meaning that all the leftovers end up going to waste. Don’t do that! Keep it simple and stick to things that you know you’ll use and re-create.
+ Learn how to properly store your food!
There’s nothing worse than produce going off before you’ve had the chance to eat it. So here are some tips to help your food stay fresher for longer:
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+ Be clear with your guests!
Guests often feel obliged to bring a plate of food – which is very kind – but if you really don’t need anything and want to reduce waste, make sure you let them know in advance that you appreciate their offer, but that it’s really not needed.
+ Get Zero Waste snacks
Want to have a bowl of chocolates, nuts or dried fruit on the table? Why not get them from the bulk food store! They’ll be plastic/packaging free, and some of my all-time favourite treats come from Source Bulk Foods… So I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
+ Don’t dress your food
If you let your guests put their own dressings on the salad and sauces on their food, your leftovers won’t go soggy and will stay fresh for so much longer… Think before you drizzle!
+ Ask everyone to bring a container!
Too many leftovers = a lot of waste! So bring a container to your Christmas meal and take some for the team. If you think you’ve got too much food, send a quick text or email to let everyone know that there’ll be leftovers to take home.
Not many people will say no to that… Leftovers are often the best bit!
+ Get creative with leftovers
If leftovers bore you, get creative and incorporate them into new recipes!
Got leftover veggies? Fry them up! Put them on a salad, make them into a lasagne or even a frittata. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that landfill is the absolute last resort.
Christmas Day is often the busiest for a lot of people; seeing different family members in different locations and rushing from one place to another… It’s not uncommon!
If that’s what Christmas Day is like for you, try and minimize emissions by taking as many people as possible! If there are a lot of you heading in the same direction, take a ride together. And hey – the more time spent with family, the better ♡
What other tips do you have for a sustainable Christmas day?
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