The festive season is a wonderful time of celebration and sharing with family and friends. It is also an ideal time to take an anti-waste stance by choosing to have a plastic free festive season without being the Christmas scrooge. Here are some ideas on how to minimise consumption and reduce waste, particularly non-degradable plastic waste.
- Avoid giving plastic gifts or plastic wrapped gifts. Plastic toys and gadgets are made from non-renewable resources which are are often non-recyclable. These items regularly use electricity or batteries, are usually shipped great distances and are made using cheap labour. Waste, carbon and toxic chemicals are generated during the production process which impacts on the environment. Rather choose wooden or fabric toys, art supplies and be creative making some gifts.
- Avoid plastic decorations, Christmas crackers, wrapping packaging etc. Shop consciously. You’d be amazed, double check everything you buy. There are many fun and wonderful alternatives.
- Choose durable and long lasting gifts. Choose quality products that are made to last, with parts that can be easily replaced or repaired.
- Give recycled or second hand gifts. This really can be such fun for both the giver and the receiver. Beautiful, unique (and cheap) gifts can be found at charity shops, car boot sales etc. They are both kind to the planet and your bank balance.
- Buy Local. Buy Ethical. South Africa has an abundance of talented individuals making beautiful crafts, from bead ware to local designer clothing. There is also a multitude of community arts and crafts projects enabling otherwise impoverished people to earn a living. Support them. With plenty local goods markets conveniently situated, it couldn’t be easier.
- Choose a reusable Christmas tree. It’s South Africa – why are we buying plastic manufactured snow covered pines? Buy an indigenous tree from a local nursery, put it in a big pot, and keep using it year after year. It reduces carbon in the atmosphere, reduces waste and really is nicer! Or becreative, how about a tree made from a stack of your favourite books?
- Make your own Christmas decorations and Christmas crackers. This really can be so much fun and the kids and grandkids will love it. Christmas crackers made from old toilet rolls wrapped in reused wrapping paper or even newspaper can be filled with Christmas treats, jokes, riddles and even fun games. Christmas decorations can be made from fabric or paper scraps, wool, beads, pine cones, shells etc. There is no limit to what can be used or how exquisite you can make your tree look.
- Secret Santa. Everyone chooses a name from a hat and buys that person a gift. It’s a great way to cut down on the number of gifts required plus ensures that you buy one great gift for a loved one.
- Food: Buy local produce, cut down on meat, avoid unnecessary food waste, send left over food to a homeless shelter, compost food scraps. Enough said!
- Avoid, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Avoid waste, avoid plastic, avoid excess. Reduce as far as possible what you can’t avoid. Reuse (and reuse … and reuse….) wherever possible: decorations, wrapping paper, cards, gifts etc. Recycle glass, paper and plastic where possible and donate old clothes and toys to charities. Recycling should be your last option before throwing in the bin.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. There are many more innovative and fun ideas for a more environmentally sustainable and plastic free Festive Season just waiting to be discovered.