We know that the holidays can be a hard time to think ahead, but our planet is depending on us to do so. The annual household waste for Australian’s increases 30% during the holiday season. We can make a lot of sustainable changes, and decrease our waste, if we plan ahead. Planning ahead can lead to a greener holiday, saving money, less waste, and better gift giving.
Did you know Australians waste around $400 million dollars each year on unwanted Christmas presents? That is far too many gifts headed to the bin.
We’ve gathered a list of things you can do to make your 2021 holiday season greener. We’ve broken it down into three sections: decorations, feasting, and shopping. Let’s get planning!
Eco-Friendly Holiday Decoration Tips and Tricks
We know it can be tempting to buy all the little plastic shiny things this holiday season. But resist the temptation! There are so many ways to buy sustainable holiday decorations, or make some of your own.
Tip #1: Make Your Tree More Sustainable
The worst Christmas tree for the planet is a plastic tree. The second best option is a real cut tree. One of the most sustainable options is finding a local farm that sells living trees - root ball and all! If a traditional pine tree isn’t native to your area, or you're allergic, consider a native plant that could act as a Christmas tree. Once you’re finished with the plant, you can plant it at your home or donate it to a park or wildlife conservancy. Or explore untraditional and eco-friendly trees, like the ones at OneTwoTree.
When it comes to decorating the tree, try and pick recyclable or compostable ornaments. Some of our favourite sustainable ornament ideas are:
If you need to buy lights, be sure to get LED or solar powered lights for your tree (and your home)!
Tip #2: Sustainable Holiday Home Decorations Are Out There
One holiday home decor idea we love is collecting pine cones and placing them in the vases that you already have. When the holiday season has passed, you can coat the pine cones in peanut butter and bird seed. This will allow the birds to enjoy a post holiday feast and creates a second life for your holiday decor!
Need a new stocking? Have some old sweaters? Know how to sew (or have the interest of learning)? Why not create your own hand stitched stocking from old jumpers for decoration! You can mix and match the jumpers you have laying around that you might have donated or tossed out to create a fun and unique stocking. Use the rest of your jumper to create fabric wrapped ornaments!
A couple of items in our shop that would make great holiday decor items are:
- Alta Candle and Celso Candle: These candles are not only beautiful and elegant. They’re made of eco-friendly soy wax on the South Coast of NSW. Light up your holiday nights with these candles. If you’re really looking to capture the “on holiday” vibe, we recommend the Pina Colada scent!
- Dried Posey Bunch: We love the dried posey bunches in white as a centerpiece for a holiday feast. The dried bunches are ever lasting and will be around for the holidays to come.
Eco-Friendly Holiday Feasting Ideas
We’ve got two tips to ensure you’re as sustainable as possible during this holiday season. While food waste is a problem everywhere, Australia has some big numbers to address. 5 million tonnes of food ends up in bins each year during Australia’s holiday season. This year, let’s change that!
Tip #1: Check Your Fridge Before you Travel
We’re all guilty of getting swept away during the holidays. One minute it's December 1st and the next, you’re due at Aunt Susan’s in 12 hours and haven’t packed yet. This year when thinking ahead, start with your fridge. Here are a couple of quick suggestions to ensure you waste less food:
- Make an “Eat Me First” shelf in your refrigerator: It can be hard to keep track of what’s happening on holiday. We don’t expect you to pay super close attention to expiration dates on food. But, if you put anything that needs to be eaten on one shelf it will help eliminate the what-should-I-eat-next guessing game.
- Create a meal plan for the weeks leading up to travel: This will help you cut down on food waste and can save you money!
- The “Welcome Home Meal”: When you’re a few days out from travel, use your leftover ingredients to create a “Welcome Home Meal”. We recommend some kind of soup. You can put it in your freezer and your meal will be waiting when you’re back from holiday.
- Make a Donation: Donate food you know you won’t get to. There’s no sense in telling yourself you might make it if you know you won’t. Gift it to someone who needs it this holiday season.
- Compost what cannot be donated
Tip #2: Feast Responsibly and Sustainably
Whether you’re BBQing on Boxing Day or having the whole family over for Christmas lunch, it is possible to have a sustainable holiday feast. First, try to theme your feast around what's local to your area. From there expand to what’s local to your city and state. Purchasing food locally will create a smaller carbon footprint and you’ll be supporting the people in your community. Don’t forget to grow food of your own, too!
Try to use reusable plates and cutlery if you can. If not, look for eco-friendly single use plates and cutlery. Try to make enough food for all the people coming, but with a minimal amount of extra. If you don’t use all your ingredients, donate to a food bank to ensure the food doesn’t go to waste.
Don’t forget to pick drinks that are good for the planet, too (avoid single use plastic water bottles)! If you’re making cocktails, we’ve got the best mixers in four flavours! Let’s be real, who doesn’t want a nice cocktail on holiday?
How to Make the Most of Your (Sustainable) Holiday Shopping
Here comes the tricky part… how to shop more sustainably. Between driving to the store, buying a product (that’s used a ton of resources to get there), wrapping, and taking the present to the person you’re gifting to... the carbon footprint of a gift can feel like a lot. That’s part of the reason it’s so important to make a planet-conscious plan to get all your holiday shopping done!
Tip #1: Shop Slow and Intentional
When we say shop slowly, we mean be proactive when it comes to holiday shopping. You can start your holiday shopping list months before the holidays. Pick gifts up as you’re near them and stow away until you’re ready to give them. For the gifts you need to go pick up, plan one day that you’ll run all your errands and get all your holiday shopping done. Be sure to bring your own reusable shopping bag.
If you’re ordering gifts online, it’s a good idea to do it ahead of time. Also, try to order from organisations that are close to you. Be sure to ask the companies you order from to ship your product using sustainable packaging, like paper instead of styrofoam packing peanuts.
When considering what gift to give someone, try to come up with items that are either meant to last or are compostable or recyclable. Keep the full life cycle of a product (how it's made, how it gets to you, and what the person will do when they’re done with it) in mind. This can help determine if the gift is good for the planet. Buy local when you can to reduce the carbon footprint of a gift, even if it may cost a couple extra dollars.
A couple of gifts that we love to give that are as practical as they are beautiful are:
These are all gifts that will get regular use and last a lifetime. Plus, the owner will think of you and this holiday season each time they use their gift.
Tip #2: Wrap it All Up (Without the wrapping paper)
It’s time we recognise how wasteful wrapping is. Australia uses 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper each year - the equivalent of 50,000 trees! The good news is, there are many options to create unique wrapping ideas that won’t end up in our landfills. A couple of ideas we have to make wrapping your holiday gifts more sustainable are:
- Old Maps: While they will be used as a single-use wrapping item, most are recyclable. This makes them a good alternative to wrapping paper. (Most of which aren’t actually recyclable.)
- Blankets: Who doesn’t want a new blanket AND a gift? It’s a win/win wrapping idea!
- Seed Paper: If your gift is a smaller gift, you can always wrap it in seed paper. This also acts as a double gift, as someone can plant the paper and think of you all summer long. We like Paper Go Round and Seed Paper Australia’s selection.
- Scarf: Again, another great two-gift option. Especially if you can find a scarf that’s on theme with the gift.
- Sew Your Own: You can never have too many reusable bags. So why not make gift bags from the fabric you have at home? Upcycle old jumpers, blankets or t-shirts and make reusable bags for your friends.
- Let us Wrap Gifts for You: At Callie Gift Co, we have three different types of gift boxes. We have an eco-box, a signature keepsake box, and a custom keepsake box. If finding a new way to wrap a present is intimidating, or if you don’t have enough time to learn to sew, pick out the perfect box. We’ll take care of the rest!
Our Last Thoughts on Sustainable Holiday Preparation
The holiday season is also bushfire season, which is mainly caused by global warming. This holiday season, one thing we can all do is volunteer to ensure those who are taking care of our bushfires are taken care of. This is a holiday tradition we can all get behind, as well as our commitment to protecting the planet. The Conservation Volunteers Australia has opportunities if you don’t know where to start.
Protecting our planet has always inspired Callie Gift Co to go above and beyond with our gifts and their shipping. That’s why every time someone purchases a gift box, we plant a tree to help combat climate change. It’s a small way to say thank you to our planet for giving us the resources to create, and give gifts to others. It’s easy and beautiful to build your own custom gift box, or buy one of our premade gift boxes.
Thank you for wanting to make this holiday season more sustainable. If you have any other great eco-friendly holiday preparation ideas, share them in the comments.