Sustainability in the Silly Season
The festive season comes with a tendency toward excess.
The temptation and ease of mindlessly consuming.
Falling into a slip-stream of the commercialised experience.
The result? So, so SO much waste, at such a high expense, financially and environmentally.
The statistics (read here) are incredibly scary. In Australia, over the festive season we produce 30% more waste. Almost 5 million tonnes of food, wasted. Over 150 000km of wrapping paper (which is largely non compostable) and of the 11 billion dollars of gifts purchased, over 20 million are deemed ‘unwanted’. These numbers are frighteningly high, and only set to rise.
There are over 7 billion of us on this beautiful planet. Imagine, if we all made one small change? I ask you to ponder this, when you approach your festive season. The power of choice and opportunity is open to us all.
The most wasteful components of the Christmas season are wrapping and packaging, food and food waste and consumption.
SO HOW CAN WE PHYSICALLY REDUCE OUR HOLIDAY FOOTPRINT, AND GET OUR ENVIRONMENT BACK ON TRACK TO PUSH BACK THE NUMBERS?
1. Tradition without overconsumption
If you ask any child, what their favourite part of Christmas is. What the festive season looks like to them, in hindsight. I can almost guarantee that amongst the surface-level recall of gifts, there is a predominant, ritualistic event, specific to their family, that lights up their faces. Is it hand-crafting decorations? Making home-made lemonade – or sitting down to a family Christmas movie, complete with snuggles and popcorn? Maybe it’s walking as a family and marvelling at the local neighbourhood lighting spectacles, or making home-made wrapping paper? There has never been a better time to start a tradition that doesn’t involve excess and consumption and waste. What will your family tradition be? I would love to hear what makes your festive season special, for your family.
2. Gift preloved
Buying toys second hand and preloved is one of the best things I’ve ever done but if I’m being honest, one of the most scary sustainable choices I’ve made to date. Growing up Christmas was a huge consumerist affair and presents felt like a big deal. We didn’t grow up with a lot so Christmas always felt special because we got a lot of stuff. However, when I look back, Christmas felt special because Mum made it special with her decorations and family focus. What I’ve come to learn is that the fear of giving a second hand toy for Christmas was a fear that didn’t belong to my children. We’ve been doing second hand toys for Christmas for 3 years now with a few new toys from smaller businesses and I can assure you the kids wake up just as excited about Christmas as they previously had.
It’s budget friendly and it feels good.
Why not purchase pre-loved? The #onesecond campaign (here) to reduce waste over christmas urges everyone to obtain AT LEAST one gift, pre-loved. The impact of this one small step, would save tonnes of gifts from landfill. What will your #onesecond gift be this year? Please let me know!
3. Re-purposed Wrapping
Making small changes in our disposable items and single-use plastics is an obvious choice, but what about wrapping? Think of the doll you purchased for your child years prior. The twist ties, the plastic inlays, the zip ties and the coated card box all contribute to single use waste.
Your child will mindlessly tear away all these throw-away items to get to the doll inside, why not save them the trouble? Utilize ribbons and yarn, re-purpose fabrics and ties, or opt for baskets for presenting your thoughtful gifts this season.
4. Wood Goods
Imagine having a generational gift, that has trickled down – slow like honey – through your family lines. A wooden set of blocks. A rocking horse. A music box. Let’s reignite the magic of legacy and the gesture of being gifted or gifting an item that holds memorial significance and has been loved by many before us.
5. Wash the Dishes
Single-use items are parallel with ecological despair. Once-favoured disposables have been widely replaced with longer-use options (denser plastic). Why not come back to basics, why not make washing the dishes part of a new tradition? Get the family involved, it’s a perfect opportunity to spend time together after a big event. Sharing conversations together, and connecting on another level. Much is shared openly around the kitchen sink.
6. Homemade & heartfelt
There is something incredibly special about gifting something that has been thoughtfully crafted with your own love, energy and heart. So many incredible businesses offer workshops for everything from embroidery, to dried flower arrangements to art classes. There are ideas for all – from toddlers to the elderly, to craft something unique and bespoke for all. You can spend an afternoon foraging in nature, collecting pine cones and painting them as a family, to proudly hang on your tree.
7. Circle Swaps
Now more than ever, connecting with loved ones and friends and family is a treasure, all on its own. Why not organise a circular swap with your dearest friends? With Christmas parties, holidays and so many social gatherings, let your girlfriends be your first choice for sourcing outfits for these occasions. If you do purchase something, sleep on it – will it be something you can wear on occasions, for years to come?
Whether it be clothing, homewares, jewellery, serving dishes or simply a trading of foods and condiments, there is something so special and sacred about a shared, open exchange of preloved or hand-crafted goods.
8. Quality over Quantity
For gift giving this season, why not opt for quality, over quantity. There is a cute expression;
Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. If your children are already blessed with endless toys and options, why not sit them down and get them involved in a discussion about those less fortunate?
9. Online Mini Gift Guide
It warms my heart to see so many businesses and companies opting for greener, gentler methods and products. Packaging, packing and materials – all being sustainable or ecologically mindful in their existence. You simply need to peruse online to find those that include greener options as part of their business model. It is so promising to see so many people being consciously mindful of their choices, as businesses and as customers. I have included some online businesses below that are wonderful examples of the above intentions.
Wattle and clay
– Seed and Sprout (use code HARMONY10)
– Five Little Bears
– Peppa Penny
– Keep Eco Store