It's Christmas time and every ad on television and social media and even every conversation at school pick up seems to be geared around what we should be buying for the holiday season. Every message coming our way at the moment seems to be 'buy MORE', 'shop MORE', 'you can't possibly do Christmas without THIS...' Between gifts, travel, wrapping paper and a tonne of food it's easy to get carried away and it's hard for even the most committed eco-warrior to stick to their motto of 'reduce, reuse and recycle'. That's why I've put together this list of super simple tips to cut down on that Christmas clutter.
- Buy earth-friendly gifts
Think secondhand, up-cycled, locally made or even make something yourself! Choose experiences or your time over material goods (if anyone would like to gift me an hour of babysitting, feel free!) Buy something that helps the recipient have a greener year, like a reusable coffee cup or shopping bag. Try buying consumables that would have to be bought eventually anyway, but pick a fancier version (like luxurious bath products or special food items). My sister joked that last year she almost bought me a box of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, I honestly would have been stoked with such a practical gift!
- Don't forget your green bags
Most of us are already in the habit of taking our trusty green bags to the supermarket, but they're just as important when you're out shopping for gifts, plus those boutique bags become clutter when you get home.
- Get creative with your gift wrapping
Find ways to reuse paper that's already floating around the house. We use our kids' artwork for a lot of gift wrapping because they're incredibly prolific artists and it's nice for relatives to get something from the little people. Other ideas might be to use newspapers or magazine pages, or go Japanese style and use a gorgeous piece of fabric that can be used over and over again.
- Get a living Christmas tree
Native Wollemi pine trees are widely available, and although you might have to pick a little one to start with it will grow with your family! If you're not ready to commit to a plant you have to keep alive for the whole year round, a real pine tree grown locally is the next best option. Remember to pop it out for the council collection so they can turn it into useful mulch. Alternatively, just do what we did this year and decorate a house-plant (we're not here for Christmas day this year!)
- Store your decorations carefully
Everyone knows how frustrating it is to try and unravel fairy lights and tinsel that have been haphazardly chucked in a box, often it's so annoying that the whole lot ends up in the bin and replaced with new stuff. Save your future self a headache and pack up carefully. Wrap lights and tinsel around cardboard tubes, keep a stiff box handy for the fragile dangly bits and label the whole thing clearly so you remember to reuse what you already have.
- Be realistic when you plan your menu
Putting on a decadent feast is part of most Christmas rituals, and I think it's my favourite part of the whole thing. That being said, be mindful of portion sizes and how many dishes are being served up (including the ones being brought by guests) so that you don't end up throwing out food. There are some great recipes for using up leftovers floating around on the internet, and even tips for keeping and reheating them properly.
- Christmas isn't about the stuff!
Most importantly, focus on what Christmas is really about. Your kids probably don’t need 20 new toys or the flashiest new bike. Ignore the ads, pare it back and figure out what’s important to your family. In our family, it’s all about creating traditions and reconnecting with family and friends. For some, it’s a religious occasion or a time to be charitable and help others. All of these things are low cost and guaranteed carbon neutral.