Let’s think of approaching this special time a little differently, and consider how we can support friends and family rather than buying them stuff they don’t need! Looking at Christmas through a sustainability lens means applying the 5 R’s of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, to everything you do, from presents to parties to fun and food.
It is estimated that the festive season generates an extra 25-30% more waste than normal on unwanted presents, food, decorations and entertaining. In Ireland, despite the surge in environmental awareness, we will generate almost 90,000 tonnes of extra packaging waste over the few days of the short holiday break. To put that into perspective, the Eiffel Tower only weighs 10,100 tonnes!
Starting with gifts, thinking of refusing them! Yep you heard that right, but seriously does Uncle John need that pair of novelty socks or would he prefer you to call more often? Most people would prefer the gift of time and more specifically, your time. Children (and adults!) will remember a trip or activity more than a gift pack of stuff they don ‘t even like.
When it comes to decorations, think about reducing them rather than increasing them! All those lovely pictures of Scandinavian minimalism are made up of a few beautiful ornaments and natural elements. Think wood, pine cones and handcrafted decorations. Adding your own personal touches of family treasures that have been handed down and things the kids have made. If you need a change, why not drop into your local charity shop?
So let’s talk turkey! When it comes to food, think about reusing and recycling, not words you would normally associate with the dinner table! However, over the festive season, your freezer becomes your bank, it saves you from throwing a lot of money in the bin. Consider freezing turkey and gravy portions for a quick midweek supper, mince pies that can be reheated in the oven and grated cheese that can be added to a cheesy sauce, even cake can be frozen and thawed at room temperature. If you don’t have access to a large freezer, give away what you can to friends or relatives, they might return the favour or donate on the Olio App. The fifth R, rot, is one of the most important to consider, especially when entertaining. If you can’t keep or donate your leftover food, then make sure it goes into the brown or compost bin to rot down.
We have created our own 5 S’s of a more sustainable festive season:
Simplify – No excess, no stress!
Slow down – Appreciate the change of seasons, brighter days are to come
Savour – Enjoy time spent with people you love
Support – Reach out to friends, relatives and volunteer if you can
Stay present – Think about being rather than giving