Over the Xmas season, the western world generates a lot more rubbish than at other times of the year. Here’s a series of tips to help you reduce your holiday season impact on the environment.
1. Shop online. Sometimes online retailers will have better pricing than bricks and mortar stores, plus you’ll save fuel in travelling from store to store, time and stress! Items purchased online are often shipped straight from the factory to you, so it can also cut down on the overall freight impact.
2. When heading out to do your Christmas shopping, take your own bags rather than using the plastic ones provided by stores.
3. All of us have likely recieved gifts in the past that we had no use for and we’ve just stashed them away. It’s a waste of money and resources. Instead of taking a risk if you’re not sure what a person wants, consider purchasing a gift card – that way they’ll get what they really want or need. !
4. Make a donation to a charity, developing world or environmental project as a gift for someone else. Does the person you are buying for really need another pair of socks? Instead of giving them a gift they can use, buy them a gift that goes to another needy person or organization – purchase it in their name
Many organizations provide this option now.
5. Battery operated items are a hugely popular as gifts. I shudder to think how many single use batteries are consumed on Christmas day and the following weeks as kids (and adults) put their new toys through their paces. Batteries contain all sorts of toxic chemicals that are damaging to the environment. As part of your gift buying, purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery charger – these are quite economical items to buy these days and will save you a ton of money in the long run.
6. Thousands of tons of Christmas cards are purchased each holiday season. The mind boggles to think of how many trees are destroyed in the process. Try to purchase cards made from recycled paper and after the holiday season, if you decide not to keep the cards you receive, recycle them.
7. If you like putting bows on your gifts, use fabric instead of plastic.
8. Christmas wrapping creates the same sort of issues as cards, but there’s some added environmental dangers with metallic and plastic type wrapping. Aside from taking a long time to decompose, these types of wraps give off toxic gases when burned. Look for plainer wraps made from recycled paper, wrap gifts in scarves, place in baskets etc. Make the wrapping a part of the gift if you can; something that can be used for another purpose.
9. Purchase a live tree to use as a Christmas tree and it doesn’t have to be the traditional fir. There are no laws against using another species and I guarantee that your doors won’t be busted down by the Santa Police . After Xmas is over, plant the tree in your yard.
10. If you’re going to purchase Christmas tree lights this year; consider buy LED tree light sets – they’ll last far longer and use a great deal less electricity
11. Use a timer for your external lighting decorations; again, a huge electricity saver
12. Tree decorations can be made from gingerbread and strings of edible items such as berries or popcorn – much tastier than plastic and far less environmental impact! Also look to nature for decoration ideas – for example; pine cones, leaves and flowers.
13. Artificial snow spray can be made from environmentally damaging components, plus there’s added waste of the can. A more earth-friendly imitation snow effect can be achieved by sprinkling baking soda on your tree.
14. Xmas day is a rubbish-fest. Before the gift opening and feasting begins, have boxes or bins set up for different types of rubbish – cans, bottles, paper etc. This will make your job easier at the end of the day and minimize the amount of recyclables heading for landfill.
15. Food wastage can also be a challenge on Xmas day – instead of throwing scraps, leftovers and peelings into your bin, dig them into your garden or better still, buy yourself a worm farm this Christmas and use the vegetable refuse to help you start feeding them