How to have a sustainable Christmas

It’s not long to go until Christmas, and as the adage goes, charity begins at home.

So why not mark the moment, make a difference to the planet and ensure all your festive entertaining, gifting, decor and special treats help the environment?

With so many eco-friendly choices out there, it’s the most wonderful time of the year to be hosting, toasting and celebrating sustainably. Here’s how to do it.

Don’t panic buy presents
At Christmas, it can be tempting to panic buy presents, particularly when we simply don’t know what to choose.

Research by ING found $400 million worth of unwanted presents were gifted in Christmas 2018, comprising about 10 million items.

Topping the list were novelty items (51 per cent), candles (40 per cent), pamper products (40 per cent), pyjamas or slippers (35 per cent) and underwear or socks (32 per cent).

Avoid buying items that will end up being unused or thrown away just for the sake of giving a gift. Choose something with value, purpose and meaning, or just give a personal, handwritten note.

Gifting something that will continue to bring joy long after the decorations have come down is the ultimate goal.

Christmas lights
Whether they’re topping the garland on the fireplace or branches on the tree, fairy lights are one of the most magical features – just make sure they’re LED (which are more energy efficient) and you’ll find there are strings of LED solar fairy lights to choose from too.

Wrapping presents and greeting cards
Recyclable brown paper may not sound glitzy, but take comfort in the fact it can be jazzed up with eco-friendly ribbon, or how about wrapping with fabric? Reclaim that printed blouse or cotton scarf from the kids’ dressing up box (or charity shop drop) and cut to size.

And if you’re not the crafty type, check out Pinterest for inspiration. Plus, there’s a vast array of recyclable and compostable cards out there.

Cut out plastic
Pulling back on plastic is actually easier than you think, especially when you consider how many times you’ve saved on the single use plastic bag charge at the supermarket by stuffing everything into your canvas shopper.

‘Tis the season to buy loose fruit and veg, make the switch to tap water and light up the little one’s eyes with plastic-free toys.

When it comes to decorations, check the label to see what they’re made of. If it’s plastic, polystyrene or easily broken glass, it’s best to put it back and go for natural, organic materials. Look outside for materials that you can use; you can create some amazing eco-friendly decorations that not only look great but also don’t break the bank. Sticking to recyclable or compostable materials means if you don’t want to keep decorations year after year, you won’t be making a big eco footprint each Christmas.

Party season beauty
Yep, it is possible to nail the look with non-toxic, chip-resistant polish in recyclable packaging. Perfect your brush strokes with bamboo make-up brushes along with make-up essentials such as bamboo cotton buds, and even biodegradable cosmetic glitter.

Meat-free festive lunch or dinner
Embrace a plant-based diet or at least try to eat less red meat. Make the choice to go Christmas food shopping mindfully, and you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Give a handmade gift
Another great way to help the environment – and save some money in the process – is to make your own presents. Whether you love baking, sewing or painting, why not get creative this season. Best of all, it will enable you to put your own stamp on a gift.

Shop locally, use public transport or have a home delivery
Reap the benefits of the lovely fresh air; invest in an eco-friendly shopping trolley and make the journey by foot; jump on the bus or have your shopping delivered – all of which can help cut carbon emissions.

Recycle everything
Hopefully, you’re doing this anyway, but while it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also one of the most wasteful. Break chores into manageable chunks so you’re not tempted to put things that can be recycled in the rubbish.

Are you ready for Christmas? How do you make sure your holiday celebrations are sustainable?

– With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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