Top tips for a sustainable Christmas

15 December 2020

Christmas cheer is just around the corner!

With your holiday budget prepared, you may feel unstoppable when it comes to planning how the season will play out financially. But what about the environmental impact of your festivities?

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you simply plug your ears, close your eyes, utter a bitter “Bah! Humbug!” and wait for the Christmas festivities to pass you by. There’s no shortage of updates you can instate to make sure that this is your most sustainable Christmas yet.

The future looks pretty bright when you celebrate a sustainable Christmas.

Deck the halls with reusable, home-made adornments

Disposable decorations have their appeal, but perhaps it’s time to start a new tradition. Focus on reusing items from around your home that might otherwise wind up in a landfill. By exercising your imagination and crafting a new home-spun holiday trinket — or two — each year, you’ll turn rubbish into a reusable cache of unique Christmas delights.

For an added eco-friendly twist, focus on turning holiday items you’ve received into parts of your permanent Christmas rotation. As an example, decorating expert Shari Hiller has advice for turning your favourite colourful Christmas cards into puzzles.

Reusable gift boxes can be a great alternative to mounds of wrapping paper and disposable decorations.

Sustainable Christmas foods: Meat-free meals and more

Whether your traditional Christmas eats include prawns, ham or another meaty dish, it may be a good idea to swap out some dishes for something a little more sustainable.

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2019, Australians consumed 20.3 kilograms pork and 43.5 kilograms of poultry per person. Unfortunately many practices in animal agriculture are linked to rising greenhouse gas emissions, and experts have expressed other environmental concerns about the industry.

High-protein meat substitutes like seitan and tofu can be great alternative entrees for your holiday dining experience. You could also have vegetable skewers loaded with filling mushrooms and other delectable vegetarian delights.

For a sweet treat after your meal, you might try your hand at whipping up an aquafaba-based pavlova recipe, as suggested by celebrated foodie Prue Leith.

Sustainable gift ideas for spreading Christmas cheer

Of course, no Christmas celebration is complete without a gift exchange. But the traditional way of doing things can create a lot of mess and a heap of rubbish. Overall, it could dampen your plans for a sustainable Christmas. Here are some environmentally conscious ideas for gift-giving:

Get one big, sustainable gift for each recipient

You may love opening loads of small goodies each year, but the impact of each gift can add up, especially when sustainability isn’t part of the decision-making process.

For starters, by exchanging numerous small gifts, you’re likely consuming a great deal of packaging. Additionally, if you’ve had gifts shipped from several different locations, your carbon footprint grows with each delivery.

Go for quality over quantity. Focus on giving one highly thoughtful gift that you know the recipient will cherish.

Part of your planning should also be geared towards purchasing — or making — sustainable, eco-friendly presents. Look for locally-made products manufactured from sustainably-sourced materials. Upcycled items created by independent artisans can also carry a unique charm, especially for fashion accessories. Ideally, any packaging that is used should be compostable, or at least recyclable.

Banish traditional wrapping paper from your repertoire

Whether you’re a zero waste movement practitioner or simply a mindful consumer, it’s probably a good idea to think twice before reaching for a tube of shimmery, shiny Christmas wrapping paper. Why? Because the five seconds of joy it brings can’t realistically compensate for its near future as mere landfill fodder.

Reusable gift boxes and bags can provide for a very festive display under the tree. Fill them with eco-friendly, compostable tissue paper to keep the gifts inside them shrouded in mystery until Christmas morning.

As an alternative, set your gift recipients up for a miniature scavenger hunt around the house to locate their presents. There’s no wrapping required for this fun-filled alternative!

Sustain your community and yourself

Have you already been blessed with everything you could possibly want? Are you looking for ways to further pare back on the environmental impact of your holiday gift-giving? There are a few additional options you could explore.

Donate to eco-friendly organisations

One frequently overlooked alternative to traditional gift exchanges — as fun as they are! — is the chance to request a donation in your name for a group that’s working to advance sustainability efforts year-round. Share links to donation platforms on your wish list and tell your friends and family that a gift to these institutions is just as good as a gift to you. Focus on organisations in your community or sustainable causes that are close to your heart.

Save a little extra for your super

Not everybody expresses their love and gratitude through gift-giving. Some couples find themselves in an annual predicament when Christmastime rolls around. They’ve already given each other everything they could really want, and now they have to stretch further and further to think of new, meaningful gifts. If the tradition isn’t actually that important to either party, then saving their money — and making some additional contributions to their environmentally sustainable super — can be a long-term gift for their future lives together.

Local Government Super (LGS) is a sustainable and responsible super fund that’s committed to having a positive impact on the planet. We’ve received whole-of-fund certification from the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), and have won the SuperRatings Infinity Award for a record seventh time. Learn more about our approach to responsible investing.

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The information on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional financial, taxation and or legal advice tailored to your personal circumstances prior to making any financial decision.