Christmas is a fun time of year but it can also be very wasteful, there are many items that get used only once and are then thrown out for example wrapping paper, disposable cups, plates and cutlery. I'm sure we can still have a lot of fun but cut back our waste at the same time!
Of course using what you already have is a good start but if you need a refresh on Christmas decorations how about ribbons, material bunting and folding paper decorations, stay away from unsustainable decorations (plastic and tinsel). Homemade items are always really good but if you don't have time for that you might find more sustainable decorations from websites like felt.co.nz. I brought a fantastic 'Merry Christmas' bunting make of out woollen blankets on Felt a few years ago that will last for decades, I love it. Beeswax candles
make a lovely feature on the table. And remember that the garden has lots to offer, not just flowers but foliage, pine cones and berries can look good as arrangements or placed on the table. And once used they can go to the compost!
Go rummaging around in 2nd hand shops and choose colourful candle sticks, vases, serving dishes, table cloth and cloth serviettes for the table.
It's best to avoid using disposable plates and utensils all together, but if you need disposables choose home compostable ones. You will need make it easy for your guests to know where to dispose scrap food and their plates and utensils, so a waste station that is clearly labelled is going to help.
If you don't have enough of your own crockery or utensils then ask friends and family to bring their own plates and/or utensils and take home afterwards. Or just borrow from friends or hire bits and pieces from a hireage company.
Having a wash up station is a great idea. You can ask folk to wash 10 plates or get the kids on board to help. If the wash area is well set up people are happy to help, just keep an eye out for the very diligent helper and make sure you drag them out of the kitchen. You want everyone to have a turn. Make sure there are some special drinks and food nearby so they all get spoilt too!
We have a pretty complicated waste system with chicken, worm farm and compost scraps, paper, soft plastics and other recycling. When we have gatherings at our place (and they can be be quite big with Martin being one of seven) I label were all the different things go so we don't add to the landfill.
Try to avoid unhelpful gift buying and receiving by having lists, telling people you don’t need a gift, and discouraging secret Santa. Sometimes we don’t need stuff but enjoy experiences and help. We can take people on a little adventure, give them a massage, offer to do a chore, cook a special dinner or go on a picnic, there are so many ideas that you and your family could enjoy. You can create redeemable vouchers.
Instead of secret Santa how about an alternative for example the exchange of favourite recipes, or even jokes, life hacks, fun facts, a favourite saying or piece of poetry, or even a compliment if you know the recipient - you might need to choose a theme so everyone is on board. Our your could all donate to a special charity.
I've got loads of sustainable gift giving & wrapping ideas
in my other blog post.
Try to make dips, hummus and pate instead of the prepacked versions. Make your own drinks instead of fizzy drinks in plastic bottles. We use a soda stream that uses the same bottles over and over and add Barkers fruit concentrate to flavour them. Barkers is in glass jars and use real fruit instead of flavours and colours.
There are shops that will fill your own containers like Hamilton Beer and Wine Co or the Good George. Of course there is the traditional beer swappa crate as well.
Get a little organised and try to make a salad rather than buy salads prepackaged at the supermarket. Use a tried and true one to avoid stress or maybe you need some motivation and want to try a new recipe. Remember when buying your salad greens avoid the ones in plastic!
If you're taking a plate to someone else's house take it in a nice platter and cover it with an extra large Honeywrap
, not only is it better for the environment, it looks great and you can leave the wrap behind as a gift for the host.
It's a great time to start thinking outside the square and see what sustainable options you can bring into your Christmas celebrations this year. Enjoy!