Published On: November 22nd, 2023

We all know how much waste is generated over xmas – but do you want to make more sustainable choices this year during the festive season? Read on for your guide to 12 Days of a Sustainable Christmas!

Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

Your guide to 12 Days of a Sustainable Christmas

By Rosie Starr, Keep Australia Beautiful Marketing Specialist Volunteer

Santa Claus is coming to town! It’s that special time of year, to soak up the magical atmosphere, listen to Mariah Carey (again) and spend quality time with the ones we love.With so many festive events, food to prepare and gifts to buy, the month can fly past in a green and red flurry.

The good news is, that taking the time to slow down and make thoughtful choices for a cause you truly care about it, can add even more meaning into the season.

So, on that note, let’s unwrap the 12 Days of a Sustainable Christmas together:

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a living, potted, native tree.

It turns out that buying a Christmas real tree is more sustainable than a plastic one! There are a few reasons why: The plastic trees are typically imported creating a large carbon footprint and eventually end up in landfill. A native, potted tree like Woolly bush or Wollemi pine can be reused for a lifetime if taken care of! A fresh-cut tree is a good option if the supplier plants more than one seedling for every tree they cut. After Christmas, the fresh cut trees can be turned to mulch and reused, check your local council for green waste collection details. If you already have a plastic tree, keep it for as long as you can and if it breaks try to repair it!

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…two experiences

Experiences make for memorable gifts that don’t increase the demand for resources. There are so many good options available like tickets to a concert, a getaway (choose a refundable or flexible option so you don’t have to confirm the dates), an outdoor adventure, a class or workshop, spa day, dining experience, tour, photoshoot or even a subscription makes for a great gift!”

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me… three containers of leftovers.

Food waste unfortunately increases in Australia over the Christmas Season. Take the time to plan your meals and store any leftovers in Tupperware containers or with wax cloth covers rather than using cling wrap! A handy tip to keep salad fresher for longer is to store the dressing separately and only put it on when you know the salad will be eaten. Finally, make sure to compost any food scraps!

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…four sustainable, recyclable presents.

Physical Christmas presents can become a little bit more complicated in terms of sustainability. Try to consider where the gift came from, how it was made, what material it’s made from and what will happen to it at the end of its life. Ensure any wood and paper is made from recycled or FSC certified materials and avoid single use plastic items that can’t be recycled. Consider the gifts packaging too, the less packaging the better but if it is packaged, check that it’s recyclable. To take sustainable gift giving a step further, try doing a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa – it’s a fun way to reduce the amount of stuff we all end up with!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…five our regifted gifts.

It might not sound romantic to some – but if you’ve a received a gift that just isn’t for you, pass it on to someone who you know will appreciate it, that’s still thoughtful in our books! Otherwise, you can donate the gift to charity. Second-Hand items like vintage clothes, home furnishings or refurbished tech also make for unique sustainable presents.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…six recycled cards.

Time to get creative and resourceful! DIY cards, gift tags and wrapping paper made from things you already have at home are the way to go. Some materials to avoid using are plastic ribbons, plastic tape and foil-backed or glittery wrapping paper. A great way to wrap presents is by saving brown paper bags from food deliveries and using them. You could also try furoshiki, the Japanese tradition of presenting gifts in cloth, then the next person can use the cloth to gift a present to someone else! Cute gift tags can also be made from the previous year’s Christmas cards.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me… seven LED light sets.

LED lights use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, last twice as long and look just as good! Solar lights are a good alternative too. Make sure you switch of your LED lights before bed for safety and the environment or buy lights with a timer, so you don’t forget!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… eight reusable Christmas crackers.

Those tiny plastic toys in Christmas crackers that we are all familiar with, aren’t usually recyclable and often don’t serve a purpose beyond a couple of minutes of playing with them! Instead, look out for fully recyclable, plastic-free crackers (they’re just as fun). It’s also surprisingly simple to make your own DIY crackers at home using toilet paper rolls & glue – give it a google! The popularity of reusable Christmas crackers made with fabric is also growing and a great route to take which allows you to personalize what you put inside!

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…nine locally grown, seasonal dishes.

There’s no need to compromise on food deliciousness to make your meals more sustainable. Look up which ingredients are locally grown and seasonal in your area and plan some of your dishes around them. Locally grown, seasonal foods require less transport and refrigeration which reduces greenhouse gas emissions! Eating less meat will also help reduce greenhouse gases; try adding a few more veggies and a little less meat to your dishes or switching a few dishes to veggie alternatives!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… ten donations to worthy causes.

A donation in someone’s name makes a meaningful and sustainable gift – especially if you donate to a cause close to your loved one’s heart.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me… eleven fabric napkins.

Instead of using single use tablecloths cutlery and napkins, use reusable versions that can be washed and reused again and again to stop waste ending up in landfill.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…twelve home-made decorations

There are so many ways to make eco-friendly decorations that we couldn’t possibly list them all, but here are a few easy ideas to get the creative juices flowing; make a wreath out of beautiful native foliage and flowers, make an origami paper star for the top of the tree, use tall glass bottles with foliage inside as elegant candle holders. You can also use recycled paper to make 3D Christmas trees or stars and tie them to a string to make a garland or hang them on the tree as ornaments.

We wish you all a very merry sustainable Christmas from all of us at Keep Australia Beautiful.

PHOTO SOURCE: (Pascal Claivaz / Cottonbro Studio / Ekaterina Bolovtsova / Marko Klaric / Nicole Michalou / Laura Jammers)

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