10 ways to make your festive season a little greener
It’s that time of the year when we start to feel the energetic buzz of holidays, family time and festive cheer. What is quite saddening to think, though, is that many of our engrained festive season habits are doing the planet no favours.
Global consumption culture is, at the best of times, far too much for our Earth to cope with, and the festive season is one time of year that consumption skyrockets. If our regular habits are too much for the planet to sustain, one shudders to think how the planet must groan at Christmas time.
The traditions don’t need to stop; the festivities don’t have to be fewer – but there are lots of things we can do a little differently to make our festive footprints smaller.
So without turning full Grinch on you and stealing the fun from this very special time (no-one likes a negative Nancy when there’s Christmas cheer to be had!), here are a few easy ways to make your festive season a little greener:
- Gift a tree
Wouldn’t you feel warm and fuzzy if you knew that an indigenous tree was being planted in an under-greened area on your behalf? That’s as good a gift as any – in fact, better than most. It’s easily arranged through Greenpop – click here to find out more.
- Wrap prezzies wisely
A few alternatives here – either ditch the wrapping paper altogether (your gift will still be fabulous without it!), or use ‘homemade’ alternatives like old newspapers, magazines, cloth etc. Finally, if you absolutely have to wrap it up in store-bought wrapping paper, remember to make sure it gets recycled!
- Use real cutlery and crockery
Lots of guests at Christmas meals means lots of work. Often we turn to disposable cutlery and crockery to lessen the load (and to be able to accommodate everyone). This year, try to make do with as much ‘real’ cutlery and crockery as possible, and minimise the number of throw-away items you buy and use. If you absolutely have to go disposable, make sure you get biodegradable alternatives from Green Home.
- Serve less meat (gulp)
With Christmas traditions in full swing, less meat doesn’t sound like much fun. But eating like there’s no tomorrow can’t be the answer anymore. The global livestock industry produces greater greenhouse emissions than the world’s trains, planes, ships and cars combined – good reason to think about whether having a little less meat and a few more veggies at Christmas could be palatable (thankfully, Christmas pudding can stay!)
- Make the best of those leftovers
If there was ever an excuse to over-indulge a little, it’s the festive season. But as we produce more extravagant quantities of food, more tends to go uneaten. Instead of throwing the remainders away, use your Christmas leftovers as a great break from the supermarket, a brief bit of respite for your wallet, and a chance to try some fun leftover recipes.
- Decorate au naturale
Instead of spending tons of money on plastic and paper Christmas paraphernalia, get creative with inexpensive DIY Christmas decorations. Leaves, pine cones and stones are all a great start for a beautiful table or tree features – and don’t forget how fabulously festive Fynbos can be. Pincushions and Proteas are hard to beat.
- Give Secret Santa a makeover
Secret Santa is a wonderful idea, but too often ends in exchanging cheap and worthless (often plastic) gifts. Agree to swop edibles or other practical gifts that you know will be appreciated and used.
- Keep re-usable bags in the car
When you’re in and out of the shops, the habit is to take a new plastic bag every time. Kick the habit. If you can manage without a bag, do so. If you can’t, make sure you keep a couple of re-usable bags in the boot of your car so you’ll never be caught off guard.
- Buy local
Bring a bit of difference and fun into your Christmas shopping by visiting local markets and gift stores for fresh produce and gifts. Loving local can be one of the best things you can do for our environment (not to mention giving our local economy the boost that it needs).
- Recycled or recyclable cards
Gift cards are fun and personal – but the vast numbers of cards circulated over the festive season amount to extraordinary amounts of waste. If you’d prefer not to ditch them altogether, have a look for cards made from recycled paper (try Faithful to Nature and Growing Paper as a start) and make sure that you recycle any regular greeting cards that you receive.