In the words of the Grinch, “It’s amazing what these Whos just throw away!”.
From the start of December to the end of January, people around the world throw away millions of tons of extra garbage each week, including holiday wrapping, packaging, conventional disposables and more. At Christmas, an additional 125,000 tonnes of waste is generated in Australia alone. We in the developed world also use more electricity on holiday lights than some countries use in an entire year. For a time of year that signifies caring for others, it’s a shame we sometimes forget to care for our planet too!
Here are some of our favourite ways to have a more eco-friendly holiday season.
1. Make Your Own Wrapping
Most mass-produced wrapping paper you find in stores is not recyclable because of the shiny coatings, colours and foils – so they often end up in landfills. Even worse, much of the conventional wrapping paper you find is also not ethically produced.
HOT TIP: If you’ve received a gift and want to know if your wrapping paper can be recycled, try the scrunch test. Scrunch up the paper in your hands and let it go – if it stays scrunched then it can be recycled, but if it unfolds on its own, it likely contains non-recyclable elements and will end up in landfill.
When wrapping your gifts, instead take the opportunity to get creative and wrap presents with newspapers, magazines, your children’s artwork, old maps – the options are limitless! You could even use another cloth item like a scarf that can be an additional gift itself!
2. Using Energy Saving or Solar Holiday Lights
By replacing your traditional lights with LED lights, and using a timer to reduce the time the lights are on, you can significantly reduce your use of electricity while still maintaining the festivity! LED lights have a longer lifespan and consume up to 80% less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. They’re also much less likely to burn out and radiate less heat so they’re less of a fire hazard too. Using a timer will reduce and regulate the amount of time your lights are on and combined with the swap to LED lights, you’ll be helping out your wallet as well as the planet.
For outside the house, look to solar-powered lights and skip the conventional electricity altogether!
3. Purchase Eco-Friendly and Locally Made Gifts or Make Your Gifts Yourself
Third party certification is the best way to determine whether a product is environmentally friendly. Look out for respected eco-logos such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Scientific Certification Systems, Energy Star, Palm Oil Free or Forest Stewardship Council (like you’ll find on our Cuddlies Biodegradable Bamboo Nappies and Water Wipes).
You could also move away from the mass (and often unethically) produced gifts you find at the shops and purchase something from a local business. Give back to your community while giving to your friends and family, especially during the more difficult times smaller businesses have faced this year!
Alternatively, look after your wallet and the planet with a crafty, handmade gift from the heart. The average Australian family spends approximately $963 on Christmas presents every year. Pinterest has heaps of ideas and you are only limited by your imagination!