Reduce, reuse, recycle this Christmas

by Ruth Blunt, communications coordinator at Wānaka Wastebusters

Christmas can be a time of over-indulgence and over-spending. Over it? There is an easier way to approach the holiday season, which is easier on the planet too. 

What is Christmas really about for you? Spending time with people you love, getting out in nature, celebrating your faith, eating pavlova? 

Step away from the crazy consumerism and reframe your Christmas by putting your own traditions front and centre. 

Traditional Christmas shopping can be a bit of a nightmare, and the cost can quickly spiral out of control. The good news is you can take back that control and reduce your impact on the environment too. 

Aim to buy less, but buy good quality. Secret Santa is a great way to reduce your Christmas footprint – by buying one high quality present instead of loads of cheap throwaways gifts. 

Shop local and packaging-free at markets and secondhand stores, or consider baking, making or creating something special.

Invest in memories by gifting experiences, like vouchers or tickets for an activity, meal or concert. 

If you’re handy, gift your time. Or hire local expertise to do the jobs your loved ones can’t do, like getting your mum’s piano tuned or the wonky kitchen shelf fixed. 

Ready for something completely different? Try a present-free Christmas instead where everyone instead brings something delicious to eat or drink together.

Searching out the perfect present at your local opshop saves resources and gives items a second chance. If you’re creative, apply your talents to upcycling or re-designing something used. Re-gift any presents that you won’t use. 

To wrap gifts, use old paper packaging, kids’ drawings, magazines, newspaper, or scarves (check out the Japanese art of Furoshiki for cloth wrapping tips online).

Making Christmas decorations out of alternative material like flowers, twigs or paper is another great way of avoiding plastic waste and spending fun time together as a family. 

Food, glorious food, is a big part of most Christmases. Plan your meals before you shop to avoid buying too much that may go to waste. Have a plan for your leftovers so you benefit from the food you’ve already prepared instead of chucking it in the bin.  

If you’re catering for a crowd choose reusable crockery, cutlery and cups by borrowing from friends or buying from a local reuse shop. An easy way to cut down on your waste at any time of the year is to ditch single-use plastics and choose to reuse. 

So many parties, so much recycling! Empty and clean your bottles and containers before putting them in the right bin. If you’re holidaying somewhere new, check the local council’s website to find out what they can take. And help out the holiday makers next door by letting them know how it’s done where you live.

. be a waster. Kiwis produce 30% more waste over the holidays, putting public bin systems under huge pressure. Rubbish and recycling left beside an overflowing bin could end up littering our land and waterways, so pack up your rubbish, recycling, and everything else you brought to the beach and bring it all home.

…that we’re all in this together. Every small step makes a difference.

David Attenborough said at the launch of his Seven Worlds, One Planet, series, “Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste.” Sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.