It’s almost Christmas, the happiest time of the year! The lights, the food, the people, the music! It’s simply magical, isn’t it?
Unfortunately though, it’s not exactly the most eco-friendly celebration. Infamous for the amount of waste produced, there have been ongoing efforts to minimise waste and encourage sustainable practices over the holiday period. Here at Hello Luna we are always trying to do the best we can at any given time, while aiming to do better. Whether you’re a full-blown zero-waste enthusiast or just wanting to cut down on the excess, every bit counts. We’ve compiled a few easy ways to be more eco-minded during the festive season, while also relieving the pressure and spreading the joy.
Chances are, especially if you’re reading this, that online shopping will play a part in your Christmas shopping this year. As your orders arrive, nice and snug in their box, save that packaging. Most orders will include kraft paper, tissue paper, or shredded paper to cushion your goods during shipping, and these can all be reused to wrap your own gifts or provide fill in gift bags – even the boxes your orders arrive in can and SHOULD be reused. Other alternatives to traditional wrapping paper is kraft paper, scraps of fabric or old Tshirts, your kids old artworks, newspaper, old maps, or you may even have a stash gift bags you can reuse! You’ll be surprised by what you have lying around already that makes the perfect substitute. If you DO choose to go the wrapping paper route, please ensure you choose one that is recyclable – not all papers are made equal!
For the more creative ones, who like to decorate with ribbon and bows and all of the beautiful Christmas themed stationary, consider instead foraged leaves, flowers, and pine cones. Twine is also another affordable option in lieu of ribbon and it’s readily available at local craft stores or hardware stores (and who doesn’t love a trip to Bunnings, amiright?). Add plantable seeded gift tags (which you can buy plain online, or check out Mama and Daisy for all of your seeded paper needs!) and you’ve got yourself a beautiful, eco-friendly gift.
As Christmas creeps closer by the day, it might be time for a clean out. Donate any old clothes, toys, furniture, electronics, or anything else you and your family no longer need, especially as you eagerly await the new influx of goods. As long as your goods are in good condition, chances are there’s a charity nearby that would love to receive them. After Christmas, do the same with any unwanted gifts that you received. A big one is toiletries, and there are numerous charities in need, such as the Asylum Seekers Centre, Share The Dignity (who is accepting donations for their ‘it’s in the bag’ campaign at Bunnings from Nov 16 – Dec 2!), or you can check Give Now to donate any number of things, from furniture, electronics, toys, food, medical supplies, and more. They’ll match your donation item to a charity in need!
Shopping secondhand is an easy, affordable way to gift the perfect gift this Christmas. Gumtree, facebook marketplace, BSS groups, garage sales, auctions – the list goes on, and there’s no shortage of goods available no matter what it is your after. While this method requires a bit more time and effort (and due diligence – no one wants to be ‘ripped off’ at Christmas, or ever!), it can also result in some truly spectacular pieces at prices you won’t get elsewhere. This also reduces waste, helps other families financially, gives new life to a much-loved item, and bonus! It’s likely to have more character and be more unique than anything you’ll find in a department store.
It doesn’t end there, though! Buy secondhand for you, too. All of those lights, decorations, the tree? See if you can find them secondhand first. This is an especially good idea AFTER Christmas, when people are packing down and deciding what to do with all of the things.
Shop small, shop local
The benefits to shopping small and local are endless, and this is something we encourage year round. When you shop small, you’re directly supporting a family and a dream. It keeps your money in your local community, and allows that business to grow, which means they will then hire local employees. Small business will also generally have better customer service, be more willing to get to know YOU, and they will appreciate your support infinitely more than a CEO who doesn’t even register your sale. Small business is also more likely to be eco-friendly, with less plastics, recyclable packaging, and non-toxic ingredients. They are more likely to source their range from fellow small business owners and local makers, which means by buying ONE product from a small business, you could in turn be supporting MULTIPLE families. All from the comfort of your couch. There are so many reasons to shop small business in Australia, and the product range is just the beginning.
Say goodbye to battery operated plastics, and hello to sustainably sourced eco-friendly materials. This has the added bonus of generally being more open-ended, more durable, and more visually appealing too. Pay attention to the amount of non-recyclable elements, including packaging, and try to choose products that actively minimise waste. This ties in well with ‘shop small’, as big names like Target, Big W or Myer are far more likely to have plastic-riddled packaging for their plastic toys.
Alternatives to Gifts
This notion has picked up momentum over the years, with ideas like ‘want need wear read’, asking family members to gift experiences like tickets and passes, or taking holidays and spending one on one time together. These ideas all make for less waste, more connection, and much more thought going in to every gift you buy. There’s so many options, even for the hard-to-buy for. Zoo passes, movie tickets, a voucher towards a holiday. Pre-pay for a flower delivery subscription, or horse riding, or a tour of somewhere they’ve always wanted to explore. An art class or flower crown session, an annual pass to a museum or tickets to the theatre. A fishing charter or quad bike tour or rock climbing tickets. I bet even an ‘I’ll make you tea!’ voucher from the kids would be well received. No matter what they’re in to, there’s something for everyone’s taste.
Gifts That Keep on Giving
Give the gift that keeps on giving at Christmas. Donate blood or organise a blood drive with your family. Gift them plants for their gardens or their homes, which are good for the earth and will give endless benefits to them, too. As touched on earlier, encourage donations to charity in lieu of gifts you may not want or need. Donate your time to a shelter or organisation that may be inundated during the busy season and require an extra pair of helping hands. Visit hospitals or nursing homes and spread a little joy to the patients and residents. No one wants to be alone or unwell at Christmas, yet so many are, and you can brighten their day with something as simple as your presence.
The Power is Yours
One of the most magical highlights of the Christmas season is the lights. The whole family clambering in to the car in their pyjamas, snacks in hand, Christmas music playing over the speakers while the kids try to sing along. Driving through town, spotting all of the beautiful homes adorned with lights of every colour, reindeer’s, Santa, the works. Some houses, the special ones, that go the extra mile; out everyone hops, to peep at window displays and run amongst the gardens. Kids dozing off in the back before you make it home, wonderfully, delightfully full, of joy, of happiness, of magic.
This is one of our very favourite traditions, and in fact one we’ve already kicked off for the year (yes, in November!). The thing is, electricity can add up, and unless you have solar, it’s not very economical nor environmentally friendly. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake in the magic, though! Swap out old lights for power saving LED lights. Use timers to ensure they don’t accidentally get left on all night, and where possible, purchase solar lights for your outdoor displays. They have the added bonus of being gloriously low maintenance, turning themselves on and off and requiring little effort on your behalf once they’re up, while still looking fabulous.
Buy a Tree.. No, really.
Christmas tree farms are a real thing, you know. Yes, even here in Australia (I only learnt this in the past few years, too!). You can get a real tree, just like in the movies. The beauty of these is that not only are you supporting a tree farmer financially, at the end of Christmas it won’t wind up in landfill, this year or ever. Cut it up for your child to play with, pop it in to an organics waste bin if you need to, or let it live out the rest of its life in the yard. If you DO have or prefer an artificial tree, ensure you get a good quality one that you love that will get plenty of years use, or better yet get one secondhand. Other alternatives include wooden pallet trees, felt trees, or stick trees. Maybe you could simply decorate an existing tree or plant in your home! There’s a whole host of plastic tree alternatives available, a mere google search away!
Food, Glorious Food
Food wastage is a serious issue over the holiday period. Think of how much food you may have wasted last Christmas, then multiply that by billions of people.. and yeah, you can see why it’s an issue. Minimising wastage can be as simple as a conversation. Clearly delegate to the members of your family about who is bringing what, and how much, and try not to be tempted to overcompensate ‘just in case’. I daresay, in most cases you could probably under-cater. Often there’s so much food and variety that not everyone will have a piece of every dish, no matter how hard they try. If you DO end up with lots of extra food, explore your options in regards to donating it to a shelter, put a call-out on social media, gift your guests with leftovers, or simply compost what you can. Make the bin the last option, not the default.
Plastic? Not So Fantastic
While we’re talking about the many lunches, brunches, and dinners you’re sure to have, let’s not forget the plates you’re eating from. What are they made of? Chances are you don’t have enough *actual* plates in your home for an extra 15 guests, and the general response is to simply purchase disposable dinnerware, cooking trays, cutlery, cups, you name it. The thing is, they don’t just disappear once you clear dinner. If they’re plastic, they’ll see many more Christmases yet, without the benefit of being useful. If you decide to go the disposable route, choose biodegradable or recyclable options first. This may mean planning ahead and ordering online, however more and more stores are responding to demand and stocking eco-friendly options. Spend the extra few dollars to ensure your plate doesn’t outlive you.
Here’s just a few small ways to reduce your footprint this Christmas and all of the Christmases to come. Which ones have you already implemented? And what would you add, that hasn’t been listed here? Pop it in the comments, you never know who may see it and take it onboard. Together, we can make the world a better, brighter place. One Christmas light at a time. Merry Christmas, honeys.