12 days of Christmas... WASTE

12 things you can do this Christmas to reduce waste.

It is estimated that Australian household waste increases by up to 30% each festive season due to thousands of tons of wrapping paper, decorations, food and bottles being thrown out.[1]  In this article, Container Deposit Systems looks at 12 ways you can reduce waste this year to really spread the Christmas cheer!

1.       Plan for leftovers

The Australian Retailer’s Association has forecast Aussies will fork out $19B on food during the Christmas period.[2] On average, Australians waste more than 100kg of food per person per year [3] and this increases dramatically at Christmas time.  Instead of reducing your food shopping, we recommend planning for leftovers. We found some great Christmas Leftover Recipes you can use. http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/christmas-leftovers

Alternatively, why not get together with your friends for a post-Christmas Potluck[4] and have some fun at the same time!

2.      Know your green waste bin

For the food that can’t be saved, make sure you know what can and can’t go in your green waste bins and compost. In many suburbs in Australia, you can recycle your food in a green or organic waste bin. View our recent article here on Green Waste.

3.       Consider the gift of not giving

Australians spend approx. $179 Million each year on unwanted Kris Kringle / Secret Santa gifts.[5] Kris Kringle is a popular office event each year; however, Care Australia has estimated that we waste $179 Million on unwanted gifts each year.  Instead of holding a Kris Kringle, consider using the $10-$20 gift and donating to a local charity. In replace of physical gifts, employees can have a budget of $0, which means they need either to make a gift or be creative with a ‘voucher’ – for example; ‘I will do your dishes duty for a whole week.’  Be inventive instead of being wasteful.

4.       Look at wrapping it up

Wrapping presents in stylish Christmas decorated paper is synonymous with giving at Christmas time, but there are many environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional shiny paper. 

  • Reuse old ‘papers’; newspapers, paper bags, old catalogues and magazines can all make great creative Christmas paper alternatives. Why not get the kids to be a little creative and decorate as well!
  • Fabric wrapping; a fashionable alternative is to use fabric for wrapping gifts. This is highly reusable and looks great under the Christmas Tree.
  • Old Calendars; an easy way to recycle your previous year calendar is to use it for wrapping paper.  Calendars make for excellent alternatives to buying more paper.

We found more ideas for you here: https://inhabitat.com/6-eco-friendly-gift-wrap-alternatives/

5.       Have a plastic-free party

There are many ways to host a party in an eco-friendly way. Plastic continues to destroy the environment so reducing, or eliminating, plastic at your Christmas party will support the greater good. These days pretty much everything plastic can be swapped with alternatives, from knives and forks to plates, table clothes and straws. For ideas visit local company Eco Party Box: https://ecopartybox.com.au/

6.       Recycle old Christmas Cards

Rather than buying new Christmas Cards each year, why not upcycle old cards? Making your own Christmas cards can be a great activity for kids (and adults!) and it is a positive way to teach children about recycling and upcycling.  In addition to reusing, Country Living has some great ways to further recycle cards: https://www.countryliving.com/uk/create/craft/how-to/a3005/how-to-recycle-old-christmas-cards/

7.       By experiences, not things

Australia will spend about $11B on Christmas presents over the next month.[6] Whilst we love giving gifts, most people have a lot of physical things they do not need, want or use. This year consider purchasing experiences, not things. This will both reduce the number of unwanted gifts going to landfill, and research shows that recipients will even enjoy them more![7]

8.       Recycle your Christmas Tree

For those who love a real Christmas tree, make sure you dispose of your tree properly to ensure your tree can be turned in mulch or compost. In many suburbs, you can dispose of your tree in your green waste bins, or you can chop it up for your own garden.  Natural Living has suggested a range of other ways to utilise your trees: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/old-christmas-tree-uses/

9.       Go eco on your outside LED lights

Solar powered lights are not only highly environmentally friendly, but they also make putting up Christmas decorations much easier (becasue you don’t have to find a tonne of extension cords!)  For old electric and solar-powered lights, make sure you dispose of them correctly at an e-waste facility.

10.   Use containers over cling wrap

As a single-use plastic, cling wrap can create great harm to the environment. It will usually end up in landfills and plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.[8] A better alternative to save food is reusable plastic or jars.  The more uses achieved out of each plastic container, the better it is for the environment.

11.   Plan for a trip to your recycling facility!

With all the parties that occur during the festive season, it’s no wonder the alcohol consumption in Australia triples over Christmas.[9] With all the additional bottles, don’t forget to collect your containers to deposit at your local recycling facility. Most states in Australia, now have a Container Deposit Scheme so you will receive a refund when you drop your bottles off.  Container deposit schemes have large positive impacts on recycling rates and it is vital to utilise them during the festive season to ensure waste that can be recycled, does not end up in landfill.

12.   Get creative with recycled decorations

Recycling old products can be a lot of fun; and when combined with Christmas decorations, there is no limit! Upcycled Christmas decorations is a wonderful activity for kids and families and it supports both reusing old materials, as well as reducing the number of new decorations purchased. Pinterest has almost 1,000 decoration ideas collected for viewing! https://www.pinterest.com.au/Recyclart/recycled-christmas-decorations-ideas/?lp=true


If you have other ways of reducing waste during Christmas let us know!


[1] https://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/how-much-aussie-homes-really-waste-over-christmas/2881742/
[2] https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/12/02/staggering-amount-aussies-fork-out-food-christmas
[3] http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/the-big-footprint-of-food-waste
[4] http://dish.allrecipes.com/casual-christmas-potluck/
[5] http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/australians-to-waste-179-million-on-unused-kris-kringle-gifts-care-australia/news-story/766267c6bca3a778fe83a27204850d9a
[6] https://www.smh.com.au/money/australians-to-spend-11b-on-christmas-presents-20171204-gzynky.html
[7] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294163
[8] https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-long-does-it-take-garbage-to-decompose-2878033
[9] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/alcohol-intake-triples-over-christmas