Christmas is a time for celebration, giving, and reflection (and a little bit of indulging). Unfortunately, it’s also a time for over-exertion, over-consumption and waste.
Among the chaos and excitement the lead-up to Christmas brings, it can be easy to forget the role you play in making it an ethical and sustainable one. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are our simple tips for an ethical Christmas.
Make your own gifts
There’s nothing like a hand-made gift to show someone how much you care about them. Save yourself some cash and avoid the energy and waste that goes into mass-production by making something unique. You don’t have to be a crafty-genius; a simple Pinterest search will bring up countless easy and cost effective DIY gift ideas. Here are a few we love:
- Leather Keychain via A Beautiful Mess
- Triple Coconut Body Scrub via Hello Glow
- Mini Succulent Magnets via PopSugar
- Lavender-Rosemary Candles via Live Simply
Crafting not your thing? There are countless local businesses in Australia that can benefit from your support this Christmas. Buying local supports independent makers and producers, reduces your carbon footprint, and bypasses mass production and unfair wages. This applies not only to Christmas gifts, but also food, decorations, cards, everything! For anything that can’t be sourced locally, look for Fairtrade, organic and cruelty free certification where possible.
If you’re not sure where to start, check your local paper or Facebook to find makers markets near you, or search what’s in your area on Etsy.
Donate to a cause you care about
The most ethical gift you can give this Christmas is a donation to a charity that is addressing a cause close to your heart. What you might otherwise spend on a material possession or food that ends up in the bin could make a world of difference to a charity in need. This Christmas, we’re asking our community to help us place skilled volunteers to work on grassroots development projects in developing communities by making a donation. You could make a donation as an individual or perhaps in lieu of a gift to a loved one.
Have you ever thought about how much paper you go through wrapping Christmas presents, only for them to be torn into shreds the minute they’re placed into the hands of their recipients? Imagine how much the world collectively consumes every Christmas. Reduce waste and save money by using recycled wrapping paper from previous Christmases or birthdays, fabric off-cuts, old scarves and hankies, old newspapers, or even old pieces of ‘artwork’ made by the kids as an alternative. The video below from City of Sydney shows how to wrap a present using cloth:
The same goes for Christmas cards. If you don’t have leftover cards from previous years, why not send e-cards or personalised emails? You could design your own on Canva, or use one of the many e-card services a quick Google search will bring up.
Once Christmas is over, remember to keep whatever salvageable wrapping paper or leftover cards you can for next year, and recycle the rest.
Consider food waste
Making more food than is suitable for human consumption is a Christmas tradition in most families. But Australians are throwing away an estimated 4 million tonnes of food every year, so what better reason to change this tradition? Be smart about your food consumption at Christmas, and avoid buying for the sake of buying. Plan your meals, buy local, seasonal and ethically sourced ingredients, and make sure there’s plenty of room in your fridge for storing leftovers.
You can turn your leftovers into delicious meals that will keep you going for days. Take a look at Jamie Oliver, Low Tox Life and GoodFood for ideas for using your Christmas leftovers. And don’t forget to compost!
Whether it’s a weekend or a month away, many of us will spend some part of our Christmas travelling domestically or internationally. But before you jet off for a well-earned break, it’s important to consider how you can make your footprint as small as possible. Choose your location wisely, support local businesses, and become familiar with the local customs. Read our 8 Tips for Travelling Ethically this Summer to find out more.
Reach out to others
What is a time of joy and excitement for many can also be a difficult and painful time for others. For those of us who are lucky enough to have resources, time and heart to share this Christmas, why not extend them to someone in need? Make your Christmas activities as inclusive as possible, remind loved ones that you care about them, or volunteer your time to helping people who are less fortunate.