• 21 Dec 2016
Top tips to reduce waste this festive season…

...and all the reasons you should

As the countdown continues, there is so much going on this time of year! From filling our homes with festive creations to buying gifts and planning feasts…there’s a lot to think about, and with many (many) convincing advertisements letting us know what we need for the perfect holiday season…we tend to overdo it a little!

Waste in Australia is an issue as it is, with Australian’s now producing 50 million tonnes of waste each year1, and the season for generosity sees Australian’s creating waste faster than ever. When you think about it, it’s not really surprising that household waste increases significantly (up to 30%2) during the holiday season… if every household overdoes it a little…it all adds up.

Creating the right atmosphere, preparing your home for guests and partaking in traditions that make this time of year so special is important, but when it comes down to it, it should be less about the excess and more about enjoying the simple pleasures in life with good company.

As the world’s focus shifts to environmentally responsible and sustainable living, reducing your waste this holiday season and adopting a sustainable mindset for 2017 is not only ‘on trend’ it can be your good deed too!

There are many ways to reduce waste over the holiday season, and we’ve taken a look at some of the main waste contributors, food, gifts, and all the trimmings, and have come up with some waste-reducing solutions.

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Food

$8 billion worth of edible (yes edible) food is being thrown out of Australian homes every year. As we tend to stock up and purchase more premium food over the festive period, it makes sense that waste increases this time of year.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE BEFORE…

Before you even hit the shops put a plan in place. Work out how many people you’re cooking for, over how many days and what recipes you plan to cook. The Natural Chef Matt Stone has created a simple yet delicious barbecue recipe that’s perfect for an Aussie festive feast.

Once you have this worked out, you can make a shopping list that will accurately reflect the quantities of food your need to buy, plus sticking to a shopping list helps avoid impulse purchases.

Now’s the time to think about produce. Shopping locally and incorporating seasonal ingredients not only supports local farmers and business, it also means you’re purchasing produce that’s fresh, that will taste better and last longer! This will help with reducing potential waste from the get-go.

Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags! Plastic bags are a huge contributor to waste, and the festive season tends to mean more shopping, which means more bags…so keep your reusable bags to hand.

Once you have your produce home, correct storage will ensure the longevity of your produce. Make sure meats are refrigerated at the correct temperature, and freeze any foods that won’t last until the big day. Keep vegetables fresh in the fridge and follow Matt Stone’s handy hack for prolonging the life of your fresh herbs.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE AFTER…

Leftovers are usually a given after your festive feast. Make sure you have reusable storage containers to store food in your fridge. Check your fridge every day and move food that’s not going to last to the freezer to avoid waste.

If you have fresh produce that may go to waste – try pickling and preserving techniques – the are super simple and leave you with super tasty snacks and sharing board accompaniments! Check out this video for a quick and easy how-to!

For any leftovers or spoiled food that cannot be stored, compost.

 Source: Salad Days                             Source: Instagram Ffrenchee                                                                                               Source: Woodhouse Clothing

Gifts

We live fast paced lives and have adopted an out with the old in with the new mentality that, despite economic downturn, sees retailers cashing in. With gift-giving an integral theme this time of the year, gift ideas can be overwhelming, and more often than not see people receiving unnecessary gifts.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE BEFORE…

We know it’s the thought that counts, but we should also adopt the ‘less is more’ way of thinking when it comes to festive gift giving. To avoid having to purchase, and having to receive multiple gifts you may not necessarily need, suggest setting up ‘secret Santa’ groups with friends and family. This way you can focus your efforts on buying a meaningful, useful gift for someone. There are many online name draw websites that streamline the process and you can ask your ‘secret santa’ for a wish list to avoid a wasteful gift.

Think about buying experiences rather than physical gifts, this is a great idea when buying for a group of friends as you can enjoy the experience together!

Useful and sustainable gifts are a great idea for everyone…and sometimes they are the type of items people wouldn’t purchase for themselves. For friends who love to cook, why not buy a set of beautiful glass storage containers, or a ‘grow your own’ herb kit. For houseproud homeowners, introducing chemical-free, reusable ENJO products means you will be saving them from buying cleaning products for up to 3 years! For skin care lovers, Santé by ENJO have beautiful gift bundles available, with handcrafted products that make the perfect pressie.

If you’re still unsure of the perfect gift – vouchers are always an option!

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE AFTER…

Even after your best efforts to reduce festive gift waste…you could still end up with a few unwanted gifts, those gifts that you just know you’re never going to use. Instead of letting them collect dust and then throwing them out with your next spring clean, prevent them from ending up in landfill all together. Think if the gift could be repurposed, or would it be perfect for a friend or family member? Gumtree and other online selling websites could be worth a try, or would it be an appreciated donation to a charity?

Source: Dust Attic Jacket                                  Source: Amazon                                           Source: Life Buzz                                  Source: Paperless Post

Decorations

Every year shop shelves are awash with colourful plastic ornaments to adorn the artificial trees that line the aisles. The festive tree tradition dates back to 16 century Germany3 and for most, we keep our decorations safety stored away each year to use again, but it can be tempting to throw out old decorations and buy new, but this is a real waste. There are also the cards, the wrapping and the tree itself that contributes to the annual Australian waste tally.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE BEFORE…

Bring your festive decorations out of storage and assess their condition. Keeping lights and decorations you already have is ideal, but if you’re looking to refresh think about repurposing your current decorations instead. There are also loads of great ways to upcycle old books and used cards into beautiful paper ornaments and garlands, we love this DIY Star Garland.

If you already have a tree, you should stick with it, a US study found that consumers would have to keep an artificial tree for 10 years to offset the carbon footprint of natural trees that would have bought during this period.4 Artificial trees end up in landfill and are usually imported into Australia, so, if you’re in the market for a new tree, try a potted, live tree, if watered and re-potted as needed it should thrive for festive seasons to come.

Gift wrapping and cards are another big waste generator that need not be. For the creatives, there are so many effective ways to wrap gifts without wrapping paper such as using fabric for Japanese Furoshiki wrapping, there’s used newspaper and reusable mason jars have a nice effect. If you’re a traditionalist, source recycled paper and cards…or try an ecard!

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE AFTER…

You’re bound to receive cards and gift wrap during the festive season, where possible avoid damaging paper and reuse next year. You could also repurpose your paper, BuzzFeed have come up with 19 different ways you can reuse your gift wrapping! If you’re not going to reuse or repurpose your wrapping make sure you add it to your recycle bin.

If you’re looking to throw our your tree after the holidays, live trees can be cut up into smaller trees and re-potted, or recycled with your greens recycling bin. Artificial trees can’t be recycled in the same way, if your tree is in good shape keep it, or think about donating it to an organisation or a school!

References

1. https://blog.mraconsulting.com.au/2016/04/20/state-of-waste-2016-current-and-future-australian-trends/
2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/12/23/keep-australia-beautiful-during-the-festive-season/
3. http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees
4. https://www.australianethical.com.au/news/tree-or-not-tree-sustainable-christmas-tree-conundrum

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