It is easy at Christmas time to get wrapped up in the festive spirit (pardon the pun!) and forget the impact that our celebrating and gift giving has on the environment and the people around us. Whilst we don’t want to encourage you to be a scrooge, we do believe there are some simple steps that you can follow to reduce your impact on the planet without losing that special Christmas feel.
Think carefully about the gifts you are purchasing. Where have they come from? What are they wrapped in? Will the person you are giving the gift to use it? Don’t forget to be a conscious consumer at this time of the year. A lot of the time we get caught up in buying large, expensive presents that have little meaning or use for the recipient. We feel we have to keep up with the status quo and buy quantity over quality. Here at Panamuna, we believe there is a better way.
When buying gifts, choose to make a statement with your dollars by purchasing from sustainable and ethical small businesses. Make sure to question producers if they claim to be eco-friendly, as a lot of businesses are stating they are even when some of their products do not fit under this category. Panamuna products are all made from sustainable materials and processes. In addition to this, purchasing from our T-shirts For A Purpose collection will ensure that profits are donated to a worthwhile charity making a difference in environmental conservation. Farmers and local artisan markets are also great places to pick up beautiful and unique gifts that have a low impact on our planet. Just do a Google search to find markets to visit near you.
If you are Interested in how you can make your holiday season more environmentally, socially, emotionally and physically more meaningful, then you might like to try the DORRRMS principle. Standing for Donate, Offset, Reduce/Reuse/Recycle, Make or Serve, this style of gift giving has so many benefits, both personally and globally. Unsure what you can do? There is a great little group on Facebook @SlowGiftGiving (https://www.facebook.com/SlowGiftGiving/) where you can find and share ideas.
To share the gift of a green Christmas long after the festive season has ended buy gifts that encourage sustainability. Bamboo toothbrushes, reusable drink bottles, stainless steel straws, keep cups and beeswax wraps all make gorgeous gifts and are also great stocking fillers. Other sustainable gifts include giving the materials to make a vegie garden, composting pot plants such as Composta https://composta.myshopify.com/, kitchen benchtop composting systems such as Urban Composter https://www.urbancomposter.com.au/, portable cutlery pouches and reusable shopping bags such as those produced by Boomerang Bags https://boomerangbags.org/product/re-useable-cutlery-holder/, just to name a few.
Another great idea for gifts with meaning is to steer away from material possessions and give the gift of an experience. Concert tickets, movie vouchers, event passes and activities for a fun day out help to create memories and assist with spending quality time with someone you care for. Is there something that your loved one has always wanted to learn how to do but never gotten around to it? What about purchasing them some lessons? Surf lessons, music lessons, art classes, cooking courses are all fantastic gifts. Alternatively, you could purchase them a membership to the local sporting club, zoo, national park or theme park.
For those who have everything, gifting a charity donation that helps others or the environment is often the best way to go. Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund https://cncf.com.au/ provides eCards, which allow you to give the gift of the planting of native trees. Oxfam Australia offer Oxfam Unwrapped https://unwrapped.oxfam.org.au/ where you can purchase a card that will help transform the lives of people living in poverty by providing food, clean water and other life-changing essentials. And of course, there is always the Kmart Wishing Tree, where you can place a gift under the tree for an underprivileged child. If none of those options seem suitable, you could calculate your friend’s emissions and offset their vehicle or household emissions at cncf/offsets.
This gives you a chance to get creative and think about how you can reuse or repurpose things you already have around the house. Wrapping gifts in newspaper or brown paper with a colourful ribbon looks great, as does using a scarf or tea towel that then becomes part of the present. Gift bags and gift boxes that are made from a sturdy material and are not necessarily Christmas specific can be used around the home for the whole year or can be reused when giving gifts for any occasion. Make your own unique gift tags out of old Christmas cards or cereal boxes or use wooden tree ornaments that can be added to the recipient’s Christmas decorations.
Make sure you get a real tree – don’t fake it! Although plastic trees can be reused many times over, and we think we are being more sustainable as we are not cutting down trees, they still ultimately end up in landfill. Real trees are more aesthetically pleasing, smell fantastic and can be composted through your green waste. Just make sure that you are purchasing through a source that grows them sustainably.
Even less wasteful is investing in a potted tree or shrub that you can use for multiple years or plant in the garden once the decorations come down. Yet another idea for a tree substitute would be finding a branch that has fallen down in the lead up to Christmas and decorate that instead. This option has the added bonus of being cost free and will give you a more Australian feel.
Invest in good quality decorations that can be used again and again and passed on to future generations or be inventive and make your own from recycled materials. Pine cones, jars, paddle pop sticks, egg cartons, toilet rolls and felt are great materials for homemade decorations, and there are endless ideas on Pinterest.
Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. LED lights use about 80-90% less energy than old light bulbs. Make the effort to turn your lights off when out of the house or before bedtime.
Avoid tinsel – it is made completely of plastic, falls apart easily and ultimately ends up in landfill or our waterways.
When thinking of catering make sure you serve up locally produced food and drink where possible, and choose produce with less packaging.
- Buy from bulk whole food outlets
- Make sure you are purchasing sustainable seafood options. The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has an online guide that can help you make ethical seafood choices.
- Visit a local farmer’s market to buy your produce
- Don’t purchase too much food, as it will eventually go to waste
Deck out the tables with reusable plates and cutlery, along with fabric tablecloths and napkins, so they can be washed and used again. Don’t have enough chairs for everyone? Refrain from purchasing more and just ask your guests to bring a chair along.
Set up clearly marked recycling bins before your party starts to make it easier for your guests to know how to dispose of waste and to make the clean-up quicker. If your state runs a container deposit scheme, keep those items separate and you could earn a few dollars back or donate the earnings to charity.
Putting even some of these steps in place will ensure that your festive season is greener and less ‘silly’, whilst ensuring that Christmas is still merry and bright for you and all who you share it with.Thank you for your support this year! From the Panamuna Team, have a Happy ‘Greener’ Christmas and we are looking forward to sharing an even more cracker year with you in 2020.