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15 tips for a greener Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a time for sharing love and thanks with our nearest and dearest. However, the celebrations can result in up to 50% more waste during the festive season.

Fortunately, there are creative ways to help reduce your impact on the environment and your wallet this Christmas. From a waste-free festive feast, to eco-friendly foods, to crafty edible gifts with upcycled wrapping, we’re here to help you make Christmas greener.

Like good little elves, we’ve asked the experts, and combed the internet, looking for the most ingenious ideas and nifty food hacks to reduce, recycle and reuse this festive season.

Waste-free festive feasting

Each week, the average Australian family throws out 20% of the food they buy – that’s one in every five bags of groceries. So, what can we do to change that, especially at Christmas?  Here are some tips from Planet Ark’s Liam Taylor:

  • Sensible not stingy – Christmas is the time of year when we all like to loosen the reins and indulge a little, and it’s not hard with all the glossy food catalogues and delicious treats. While there’s no need to be a Grinch, ensure you only shop for enough food for your family gathering, not a whole footy team. Count the mouths to feed and portion accordingly. Whether it’s your weekly shop, or Christmas get-togethers, planning is one of the most important ways to cut back on food waste and save on groceries. 
  • Shop your pantry – Don’t double-up. Cross-check what you already have in your pantry and freezer. Think about how you could use up your stocks of canned foods.
  • Cut the plastic – Avoid the disposable plates and cluttery. If you need more for the day, ask to borrow some from friends or family. Washing up may take a bit of extra time, but hopefully there will be plenty of hands on deck.
  • Skip paper serviettes – Did you know used paper serviettes aren’t recyclable? My tip is to bring back fabric serviettes that you can wash and keep reusing.
  • Recycle right – If you’re buying packaged items, look for products with the Australasian Recycling Label so you know they can be recycled and the best way to do it.
  • Love your leftovers – Portion and freeze for an easy dinner, or send them home with guests. Any other food scraps will be great for the compost.

Eating greener

You can also make greener choices with the food you serve. Sanitarium dietitian Trish Guy says choosing more plant foods is the way to go. Here are Trish’s top 3 tips:
  • A very veggie Christmas – Animal foods are the planet’s leading source of greenhouse gas emissions so serving up more plant-based dishes this Christmas is a choice that’s good for you, your family, and the planet. Stuck for ideas? Try these delicious vegetarian Christmas recipes.
  • ‘Tis in season – Use fruit and veggies that are in season. This not only helps to support local Aussie growers, but it will also reduce the food miles. In season produce is generally cheaper and there’s an abundance of delicious summer produce that makes it easy to eat seasonally. Here’s a list of what’s in season now.
  • Cook ‘root to stem’ – Use it all up. Keep the skins on your roast veg – the skins are loaded with goodness. Save any veggie scraps for making sauces and stocks for your Christmas feast, or freeze to use later. Even carrot tops can make a tasty pesto – if there are any leftover from feeding the reindeer. 

Delicious DIY Gifting

We all love delicious homemade treats and we’ve got loads of ideas. Here’s a few of our favourites:
  • Chocolate lovers – Try bliss balls. They look gorgeous wrapped up in a clean, upcycled jars with festive ribbon. Here’s the perfect recipe – Cherry choc bliss balls.
  • Cookie monsters – DIY cookie jars are a clever gift for kids. It gives them something they’ll love to eat with the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. Simply grab a large jar, layer all the dry ingredients (keep it wholesome if you prefer) and tie on a recipe card.
  • Picnic pals – Homemade chutneys, pickles and relishes are ideal for picnic pals, entertainers and those who love a good grazing platter. Making tasty chutney and relish recipes is also a great way to use up veggie scraps or seasonal produce that’s in abundance!

That’s a wrap

Now you’ve got the gift, what to wrap it in? These ideas from Planet Ark prove there are plenty of sustainable options around the house:
  • Wrap with fabric Furoshiki is a Japanese practice that originated decades ago. Simply take a piece of cloth, scarf, sarong, or pillow slip, fold it around your gift and tie a knot! Also works great with festive tea towels.
  • Get creative with kids’ artworks, old magazines and newspapers – this is a great way to use your child’s masterpieces or repurpose old papers. You can take your wrapping to the next level by layering different papers or using the paper scraps to make bows.
  • The final flourish – adorn gifts with leftover ribbon or twine. Tie on leaves, gumnuts or flowers from your garden for a special touch.

For more Christmas ideas and recipes check out our Christmas dessert and sweets collection.