Explore the range of benefits and discounts available to RACV members across Victoria
Five tips for a waste-free Christmas
Get into the festive spirit without creating excess waste (or credit card debt).
What is it about the festive season that makes the lifestyle rules we follow during the year go out the window? We eat too much, might drink a bit too much, and our good intentions around reducing waste and recycling are also cast aside.
It’s the season of excess and by the time Christmas is over, it’s not only our waistlines and wallets that are paying the price. Festivities take a toll on the environment too, says Abigail Sexton, WWF Australia’s oceans and wildlife engagement manager.
“Over the festive period the amount of waste we produce doubles thanks to Christmas decorations, presents, packaging and wrapping for presents, food packaging and food waste,” she says.
But some preparation and a little effort can reduce waste without crushing the festive spirit.
Make your own decorations
“Get together with family and friends, put on a Christmas film and get crafty,” says Abigail. “My Mum used to dry slices of orange with cloves and hang them from the tree with twine. They smelled beautiful and looked stunning.”
Go on YouTube to learn how to make simple origami stars or use brightly coloured craft paper and paint and cut out Christmas shapes to decorate. Peg them on a string and hang them on your tree or along walls.
Or make a rustic Christmas tree hanging. Collect various-sized sticks from the backyard or park – straight sticks work best, says Abigail. Lay out the sticks – biggest at the bottom working upwards to the smallest to make a Christmas tree shape. Tie the sticks together from bottom to top, securing each with a full knot. Decorate with LED lights and paper and cardboard stars and hang on the wall.
You can also create tealight lanterns by cutting out Christmas shapes from the pages of an old book, then light with a soy candle inside. They add a festive feel to a dinner table, or if dining outside tie string around the rims of jars containing tealights and hang four or five from a sturdy branch.
Or make a simple star from fallen sticks tied together in a star shape and decorate with lights.
For more DIY decoration ideas go to: wwf.org.au.
A real or a plastic tree?
The most environmentally friendly option is a ‘living tree’ in a pot. Choose a tree at your local nursery to decorate and once Christmas is over, plant it in your garden or put it on a balcony.
“A real Christmas tree is the next best option,” says WWF’s Abigail Sexton. “It is purpose grown, it has produced oxygen, absorbed carbon dioxide and it is biodegradable.
“Real trees are usually transported a shorter distance than fake trees that are often imported from China. Real trees have a smaller carbon footprint and once the tree is cut down, it’s replaced by another tree.”
While a fake tree can be used for a number of Christmases, Abigail says it would need to be re-used for about 20 years to have a lower environmental impact than a real tree. When your real tree curls up its toes, cut it up and put it in your green bin to be mulched. Some councils run January Christmas tree collections.
Make a natural Christmas wreath
- Collect foliage from your back yard or look in your local park for fallen leaves, branches and pinecones. Add herbs like rosemary, sage and lavender for a sweet-smelling wreath.
- Buy a wreath base from craft shops or make your own by bending a wire coat hanger into a circle.
- Add branches and foliage to the wreath, overlapping them and securing them with string.
- Build up layers of foliage and add flowers and herbs, tucking them into the base or securing with string.
- Tie ribbon to the wreath for a splash of festive colour.