9 ways to a low waste Christmas

Thursday 05 December 2019

It’s easy to get caught up in a frenzy of stuff at Christmas, whether it’s prepping for parties, decorating our homes or finding gifts.

You’re experienced revolutionaries now, but here are some extra tips just in case you need some seasonal inspiration.

1. Giving a gift

Give a gift to the planet when you’re choosing what to give friends or family. Choose experiences, not things or even make your own presents.

Whether it’s a ticket to see their favourite band, a cooking class or handmade jams, candles or soap they can treat themselves with, the best gifts are experiences to remember.

Perhaps you can give someone the chance to discover an environmentally responsible brand, with a sustainable alternative to something they need and love.

Can you introduce a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa among your friends or family, so that everyone receives one gift, instead of a zillion?

2. Wrapping it up nice

Wrap with what you already own – repurpose paper, gift bags, kids’ drawings or newspaper. Instead of plastic sticky tape use twine, ribbons or glue.

Also remember to avoid metallic wrapping paper (it can’t be recycled).

3. Decorating your tree

A real tree is the most sustainable kind, but even better is using something you’ve already got. Big indoor plant? Cumquat tree in a pot? An arrangement of branches, decorated with recycled and reusable decorations? Get creative and think, it’s one less thing to buy!

Plastic Christmas trees and decorations cannot decompose and will end up in landfill one day.

You can book a Christmas tree collection from Thursday 2 January by calling us on 9205 5555. We’ll take it away and turn it into mulch.

4. Sharing the waste-free way

When you invite them, let your guests know that your place is a waste-free zone. If they’d like to bring something along, suggest something homemade (or, if you’re feeling game, that you only want things that come in reused/reusable containers).

Before you head to the shops, write down your meal plan. Supermarkets before Christmas can induce a bit of a frenzy, so write a shopping list and be realistic with portions. It’s unlikely you’re feeding 100 and the shops will open again on Boxing Day!

Fill your own containers and produce bags at your local bakery, deli-counter, butcher, fishmonger and market. You can find out which food suppliers have pledged to accept your reusable containers by looking at our zero-waste map.

5. Helping them succeed

You’ve been sorting your waste like champions for a while now. But your non-revolutionary guests from outside of Yarra might not know the deal. No one wants to spend their Christmas sifting through other people’s refuse to separate it correctly so it can be collected.

So, help your guests help you. Make sure you’ve got separate bins for glass, recycling, food and rubbish – and make sure it’s clear what’s what. Four empty carboard boxes and a good black marker to clearly label them should do the trick as make-shift bins if you need them.

Or, so there’s no excuse for getting it wrong, print off and pin-up these posters next to your bins.

6. Drinking sustainably (and recyclable-y)

Whether sipping a soft drink, or downing something stronger, there are ways to make sure what it comes in can be reused or recycled (or to avoid waste altogether).

Local shops are taking a stand. Slowbeer in Fitzroy let you bring your own growler for a waste-free refill of beer on tap. ReWine fill and refill bottles for takeaway with locally sourced wine straight from the barrel. Now that’s revolutionary waste-free.

For teetotallers, make big cuts in plastic waste by getting a SodaKING or SodaStream to create your own sparkling drinks (and your own flavours too: a favourite – grab a jug, pour in fizzy water, lemon juice, a spoon of sugar and a touch of cranberry juice for a bitter, pink lemonade).

Once you’re done with any disposable bottles you can’t reuse, make it easy to get them sorted. Because Yarra is the first council to separate glass from other recyclables, you may need to tell people new to the revolution not to mix-up cans, plastics and glass bottles in the one bin, and be clear that it’s lids off. Metal lids can be put in your yellow-lidded recycling bin.

7. Keeping on top of waste

It’s cheaper, nicer and there’s no waste at all if you use your own crockery and cutlery. If you don’t have enough, head out (op-shop?) for some extra real plates and glasses you can use again (and again, and again). Go bamboo or metal if you really need straws – and try cloth napkins if you can!

Worried about washing-up? Start the day with an empty dishwasher, and it should take care of most of the work. Otherwise, get you could get your guests to chip in on doing the dishes.

8. Sharing leftover food

Cooking for many often means leftovers. Send your guests home with a plate of goodness, (we’re thinking a real plate, or reusable container they can keep or bring back), freeze what’s left and, only if you must, send any food scraps into your green bin. Food waste uses water, energy, transport and your money. Feeding your loved ones, or your future-self, is always better.

9. Recycling soft plastic packaging

If you end up with soft plastic packaging to recycle, take it to your local Woolworths or Coles and put it in their REDcycle bins. These bins accept a lot of different soft plastics, including biscuit packets (outer wrapper only), frozen food and veggie bags, lolly bags, chocolate wrappers and chip and cracker packets (even silver lined ones).

Share your low-waste Christmas pics with us on our Yarra Waste Revolution Facebook group.

Read more about the Yarra Waste Revolution and find all our information to help you recycle right.

You might recognise some of these tips from our article about having a low-waste Grand Final. There’re useful all year round and if you have any other tips to share, email us at revolution@yarracity.vic.gov.au.

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