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Stocking filler or landfill?

‘Tis the season to reduce your waste.

So says Courtney Fink-Downes, mum and natural resources officer for Eurobodalla Council.

“Families with small children will be feeling excited about the arrival of Father Christmas, and why not?” Courtney said.

“But it only takes a moment’s thought and you can simplify gift giving for a joyful Christmas that’s easy on the planet.”

Courtney advised staying clear from cheap plastic stocking fillers.

“The novelty wears off in a day or two, if they don’t break before that,” she said.

“What happens then? Most likely it ends up in landfill, where it sits for years, decades, centuries.”

Courtney said cheap toys are not usually recyclable and made overseas – by people working under less than ideal conditions – before being shipped or flown around the world, “the environmental footprint is huge”.

“These stocking fillers cost you only a few dollars, but there’s a big cost to the planet. It’s so easy to do better.”

Courtney said the best things about Christmas aren’t ‘things’.

“Gift buying is time consuming and stressful. Try a Secret Santa to reduce the number of gifts. You can even agree to give up gifts altogether – you might be surprised how much more you enjoy the day,” she said.

“If that’s a step too far, choose gifts with more meaning and less environmental impact. Tickets to a show or event, gift cards for a massage, or items made locally, made from recycled materials, or upcycled.”

Courtney said most Christmas wrap, tinsel and glitter could not be recycled.

“Have a rethink on wrapping. Reuse last year’s, or substitute old magazines or newspaper sheets that can look good if you give it a bit of thought. Old linen and tea towels can add a bit of style – plus they can be reused again and again,” she said.

Even the annual Christmas party can have a sustainable makeover, according to Courtney.

“Obviously you say no to single-use plastic plates, cups, straws and cutlery. If there’s a Kris Kringle, why not suggests gifts must be hand-made or second hand – it’s likely you’d spend less time in the kitchen to make gifts of food or drink than shopping for plastic junk,” she said.

“You can even redefine what a Christmas party looks like. Get outside for a bush walk, a picnic, or get together and build a veggie garden.”


Above Courtney Fink-Downes says the best things about Christmas aren’t ‘things’ and she’s got some tips for a joyful Christmas that’s easy on the planet

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