The silly season can be sustainable

Deck the halls with boughs of holly… or thousands of metres of tinsel and billions of boxes of baubles, as the case may be. Christmas is about getting together and celebrating, but it is possible to do it without leaving a huge environmental footprint.

Council’s Sustainability Coordinator Mark Shorter says there are a range of simple steps households can take to reduce their environmental impact this Christmas.

“A potted Christmas tree can be kept year-round outdoors, adding shade to your garden, habitat for small birds and, importantly, oxygen to the atmosphere,” he said.

“You can jazz it up with decorations hand-made from recoverable materials, like scraps of fabric or packaging, and use solar or LED lights to add some sparkle without the energy use.”

Sending an e-card is an easy and paper-free alternative to sending traditional cards to friends and family.

“It also eliminates postage costs,” Mark said. “If you still like popping the traditional card in the post, have a go at making your own. Most people would be touched you made such a personal offering.”

Christmas dinner too can be sustainable by buying food with minimal packaging, locally-grown products or growing your own.

When it comes to gifts, Mark points out that Australians spend about $50 billion on presents and around $700 million of that will end up as landfill come February.

“It’s best to shop wisely and buy presents you know the recipient can use,” he said.

“You can also consider gifts that don’t need wrapping, like a magazine subscription or movie tickets or even try making your own – such as a home-grown potted plant or a mosaic house number.

“If craft isn’t for you, give some thought to what you buy, where it came from, who made it and how far it travelled by visiting local craft markets or buying ethically-sourced products. Art on the Path this Sunday morning on Coronation Drive, Broulee, will have plenty of environmentally-sustainable gifts made by local artists on offer.”

Making presents “presentable” wastes a whopping 4,000 tonnes of wrapping paper in Australia each year – equating to 25,000 trees.

“Consider wrapping with recyclable materials by swapping paper for fabric offcuts, reuse wrapping paper or gift bags or make your own paper,” Mark said.

“And don’t forget to reuse and recycle as many by-products from the silly season as possible. Excess household recyclables from the many days and nights celebrating with family and friends can also be dropped off at your local waste transfer facility free of charge.”

Above: Home-grown potted plants make lovely sustainable gifts this Christmas.

Above: Making your own Christmas decorations is a more eco-friendly alternative to buying read-made plastic ornaments.

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