How to have a sustainable Christmas

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? If all you want for Christmas is to be clean and green, then we've got the perfect early gift!

Try our top five tips for a more sustainable Christmas, which will help to make your celebrations kind to the planet.

1. Ditch the stocking fillers

Embrace the season of giving but don't leave your loved ones stuck with things they're not going to use. Give practical gifts like a reusable coffee cup or stylish reusable tote bag, or gift an experience like tickets to a local show, a movie pass or a voucher for a day spa.

For a thoughtful green gift, Brisbane residential ratepayers are eligible for two free native plants from Brisbane City Council. You can take your pick from a broad range of native plants to make sure they are suitable for any garden, big or small, or even choose a plant for a large pot on an apartment balcony.

If you're up for some festive fun, try a second-hand gift exchange with your family or friends. You can pick up unique preloved treasures at a tip shop – everything from $1 books to quirky jewellery, vintage crockery, furniture and stacks of push bikes. You can also try one of the many op shops around the city that offer plenty of great options for meaningful gifts that won't break the bank.

2. Become a wrap artist

After Christmas, rubbish trucks turn into a glittery mess of tinsel, bows and curly ribbons bound for landfill, but you can help change this by thinking green when you get wrapping.

Embrace the Japanese art of furoshiki and use square scarves or spare pieces of fabric instead of paper. Scarves can be picked up affordably at op shops and make for stylish accessories afterwards, while eye-catching fabric can be repurposed into a tote bag or used to wrap more gifts in the future.

If you have kids, let their creativity run wild and have them draw on scrap paper to turn a fun craft activity into sustainable gift wrap. When unwrapped carefully the paper is likely to be kept as a treasured part of the present, especially when gifted to proud aunties, uncles and grandparents.

Set on using traditional wrapping paper? Make sure you use tape sparingly and choose paper that can be recycled, avoiding cellophane or metallic wrapping paper.

3. Give the gift of good food

For many of us, food is our favourite feature of the festive season. It's easy to be tempted to buy too much rather than risk finding yourself a little light on when your extra cousins turn up after the shops close. While we're all for food love, we also hate waste, so challenge yourself to consciously cater and reuse your leftovers for the foodie gift that just keeps on giving.

Avoid unnecessary food waste by following our top festive tips. Write a detailed shopping list before you pick up the groceries for Christmas lunch, and make sure you stick to it. If you still end up with leftovers, create an 'eat me first' section in your fridge so nothing goes to waste. Search online for recipe inspiration and ideas to help you use any food you're struggling to get through.

When shopping for a Christmas feast, also think about food packaging. Buy loose fruits and vegies and purchase other products in glass or tin wherever you can, which can later be placed in your household recycling bin.

4. Deck the halls responsibly

When it's time to get decorating, resist the temptation to buy cheap plastic decorations and instead invest in good quality decorations made of wood or glass that can be reused for years.

Set the table with an eclectic mix of plates and cutlery you already have at home or pick up a nice matching set from a tip shop or op shop. Washing dishes is surprisingly quick when you have family to help and it means you'll save plenty of single-use plates, cups and cutlery from ending up in landfill.

Shine a green light on Christmas and make sure your twinkling lights are only on for a few hours each night. Leave them switched off when you're not at home, and if you're buying new twinkle power for your celebrations, opt for LED or solar-powered lights for a more sustainable option.

5. When your 'presents' is requested

Travel responsibly to your festive events by walking, riding or catching public transport wherever you can. Remember that seniors can travel for free on Council buses, CityCats and ferries in off-peak weekday times, as well as on buses all weekend. There are public transport discounts available and free trips for kids aged four and under too.

If you would prefer to ride to your destination, jump on one of the 2000 CityCycles at your fingertips across the city. The first 30 minutes of your trip will be free.

Want to look your best with a new outfit? Instead of buying something new for the occasion, consider how you can rework outfits you already have with a new accessory or by borrowing something from a friend. For extra special events, you could hire a glam outfit from an online rental store that won't be left to gather dust in your wardrobe afterwards.

Green gift that keeps on giving 

We know changing habits can be challenging, but your small changes can make big differences to reducing waste, energy and helping to keep our city sustainable for future generations.  

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Date posted:
Last updated:2 December 2019
Topics: green