Celebrate the good cheer of the season while trying to bring some goodwill to the environment. Here is how you can easily make a start towards a zero-waste Christmas.

We are heading right into holiday season and it never fails to bring that sense of warmth into everything we do. It’s a time when we slowly wind down for the year, look forward to spending time with the family and of course, all goodness that comes with the season – in terms of food, gifts, decor and so much more.

Over the years, perhaps without us truly aiming for it to be so – the holiday season has also become about excessive indulgence and wastage. And this is increasingly at a time when it has become imperative for us to rein in the excesses. You may not be able to go completely zero-waste in a single year but, it’s never too late to start and work your way to the goal. Your actions are bound to have a ripple effect on family members and the good word will spread.

Here are a few starting points to help get you on the way.

The Christmas tree

Of course, it’s a tradition in itself to head out Christmas tree shopping and get yourself that perfect real tree. A lot of effort goes into heading out to the sales, finding the right tree and bringing it home. But, the sad part is that it will end up in a landfill at some point. And it’s a carbon store that’s simply going to rot away.

The simplest way to save a tree is to invest in a reasonably realistic fake tree, preferably from a second-hand shop or TradeMe. This is a tree that will last you years and is reusable. It can look as beautiful as any real tree when done up beautifully.

If you have the garden space, consider growing a real Christmas tree in a large pot. This can be your main tree and your indoors can reflect the spirit of the season with your decor.

This can also be a time you get the creative juices flowing. Christmas trees don’t necessarily have to be trees in the true sense. How about creating one that has the essence of one. Build a tree based on a theme. Some people use books from their library, others use Christmas cards or family photos to construct a tree. Check out the several DIY options that are available online for ideas.

Christmas decor

It is so easy to get carried away with all the beautiful decorations that come into the market each year. Just when you think you have it all, you spot that one set that you simply must have. Here are a few decor ideas that can help towards going zero-waste.

Pull out all your decorations and check what is in good condition and what may not be. Fix what can be repaired, recycle what cannot be fixed into new decorations (there are so many craft ideas you can implement here) and get rid of what does not work in any possible way.

Now, take stock of what you have and see if you really do need to add to your collection. You will be amazed at how much you have amassed over the years. Here is the point where you develop a little restraint and not go on a decoration buying spree. Or if you do, see if someone on TradeMe is selling a bulk lot of decorations.

But, if you would like a change to your decorations, consider swapping the lot with someone in the family or a like-minded neighbour. Not one, but two homes get a decoration makeover this way.

You could also consider creating your own Christmas décor from material you have in your home. Origami with newspapers as the creative material and a set of paints can work some magic. This is fantastic if you have kids or grandkids too.

Christmas gifts

Gifts are an essential part of Christmas. But it is also a time when you tend to end up with a lot of unwanted gifts. And let’s not mention the large amount of wrapping you have to deal with afterwards. Here are a few ideas to make your Christmas gifting zero-waste.

•         Gift people experiences: Today, everything, from a staycation to a movie and dinner, to a hiking trip and more can be curated and available as an experience to be purchased. Consider investing in this for members of the family. The memories will last a lifetime.

•         Consumable gifts: These are always a great idea. From gourmet coffee to home cooked goodies, anything consumable leaves behind no waste.

·        Go Secret Santa. Everyone in the family gets a name drawn out of a hat and buys one quality gift for that person. It saves so much money, stress and makes Christmas no less joyful but so much better for our planet.

·        All the gifts that you plan to give, make your own wrapping paper – from those that you have saved, from newspaper and some craft material as well as from old colourful cloth and some ribbons. The possibilities are many.

·        Instead of receiving gifts, share the love. Ask friends and family to donate online to a charity of your choice. A great Christmas gift doesn’t have to be elaborate either- petrol vouchers, or paying the electricity bill or contents insurance could be amazing for someone who might be struggling a bit. And it’s far more helpful and appreciated than a reindeer that poops chocolate.

The Christmas meal

Yes, Christmas is all about the turkey and the trimmings, the cakes and puddings and ten kinds of BBQ’ed meat. But, here’s an idea on how to make it zero-waste. Try your hand at nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking. There are so many ways to ensure that you don’t discard anything when you cook.

Additionally, consider making it a potluck, where every member of the family makes a pre-determined dish. This reduces the burden on a single family and saves on energy that goes into making a meal. Distribute leftovers among family members or simply use the leftovers as an excuse to have friends and family over again.

There are so many ways to make Christmas special, yet reduce the impact it has on our environment and our everyday lives. These few steps can be just the beginning. So, you can rock around the recycled Christmas tree, spend time playing cricket on the beach and have an amazing Christmas without harming the environment.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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