Rethink for a Zero Waste Xmas

It’s that time of year again … Amazing how Christmas seems to come around more quickly as the years go by.  Now unless you’re super organised person, the stress and strain of shopping for gifts during the ‘silly season’ can tip a rational, calm and clearing-thinking individual into a flustered, confused exhausted wreck!  What with the dreaded car parking hassles, the long queues (perhaps with tired kids in tow) and the mental and physical exhaustion – so how did you agree that Christmas lunch would be at your place again this year?! – Christmas may fill you more with dread than joy!

Well what if I told you there was an easy way for you to reduce a lot of stress and hassle whilst also preventing your hastily selected gifts from going to the op shop or worse to landfill?– It’s simple!

The solution is to give the gift of ‘EXPERIENCE’!  Yep ‘experience’ – it’s not a new concept and true it won’t be the biggest wrapped pressie under the Xmas tree, but it just may be the most well received.

Experiences can be as small or as big as your heart and mind desires and the memory may last a lifetime.

So how do you choose an experience over a gift for someone?  Well it’s kinda the same process really … Think about the person’s interests, hobbies, personality … I mean you wouldn’t get Auntie Mavis a Sky Diving experience when she has a fear of heights and has just had a hip replacement … but Auntie Mavis might adore Italian food. So a zero waste gift could be an Italian cooking class where she can experience learning how to cook fresh pasta and gnocchi.  Or maybe she dreams of visiting Italy one day. So you could give her a voucher to learn Italian at her local TAFE or neighbourhood house or a couple of private lessons with a tutor – Bellissimo!

Yes yes, I hear you say ‘I buy gift vouchers, those plastic ones that you see in the supermarket’ … but if you put some thinking time into the task it won’t be like an iTunes card, you grabbed as a last minute desperate attempt to find something.

Perhaps your friend loves music. So why not book tickets so they can see their favourite artist or live band instead.

And remember, experiences don’t have to cost the earth to be great.  A gift voucher for a massage for a busy working mum will be far more appreciated than that foot spa, which we all know will sit in the cupboard and never come out of the box! (Yes I can speak from experience!). For friends and family with little ones, a babysitting voucher so they can escape on a date night, will be most appreciated!

Maybe your sister loves ice-cream …. How much fun would it be to give her a voucher from her favourite Ice-creamery.  You know the kind that has 30 different gourmet flavours that make you swoon, whereby she can try every flavour over the coming weeks to her hearts content!  The gift that just keeps on giving …bliss!

You can also make experiences more personal by tailoring them yourself by either sharing the experience too or designing a personal adventure that you take them on. It’ll be way more touching and special than a pair of slippers or an electric juicer.  Imagine taking your loved one to a movie at a nostalgic ‘Drive-in Cinema’ … BYO container of course so you can ask for your popcorn zero waste style at the kiosk, take your own thermos for tea or coffee or interval time … pack some chocolate dipped fruit and you won’t have any rubbish to throw away at the end of a fabulous evening.

OK OK – maybe you already have some presents purchased to go under the tree. Fine, well you can still reduce the waste associated with these by wrapping your presents in old newspaper, use hemp string and decorate with flowers and small twigs from the garden. It not only looks funky but it will save you serious money not having to buy Xmas paper, Xmas bags and ribbons etc and afterwards you can throw it all into compost bin or recycle bin. You could also use the colourful wrappers from your Who Gives A Crap toilet paper.

For the littlies – say 1 to 7 year olds, I understand that they are hoping Santa will be leaving them presents to find under the tree – you can still shop with care for the planet and purchase from companies that produce non toxic toys, using recycled or biodegradable products.

What have you got to lose? Ditch the stress this year … think EXPERIENCES for gifts and remember those BYO bags whenever you are shopping for your Xmas food. Take your Onya or reusable shopping bags for your fruit and veggies and buy as much as you can without packaging.  As for your meat and fish, get friendly with your local butcher and fishmonger, drop off your containers beforehand and they will happily place your orders in them for you to collect later, no plastic bags and another win for zero waste and the planet.

Give the gift of an ‘experience’ this year, save yourself the grey hairs and the planet…..It just may be your best Christmas ever!!!

This post was written by Carolyn Salkeld, a GS member, who had an epiphany after watching the ABC War on Waste series, which led her to discover many people following a Zero Waste lifestyle including Bea Johnson and of course the wonderful Erin Rhoads, The Rogue Ginger and her Life Learning class earlier this year.  In 2018, she’s going to help us start a Zero Waste Action Group.

Carolyn holding a week of landfill rubbish

Remember the 5 R’s: Rethink – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – and finally Rot!

Other tips include:

  • Give a subscription or membership
  • Buy gifts that support the greater good or greener living
  • Chat now with friends and family and agree to stop buying presents for each other kids – plan fun adventures together instead!
  • Switch to the Kris Kringle approach rather than buying presents for everyone
  • Make home made gifts – baked goods and preserves are always popular.
  • For further giving advice, refer to our Gifts and Giving Guide.

Click here for more info on Zero Waste.