Merici Weekly Green Tip #24 - Sam's Guide to an Eco-Friendly Festive Season

This newly erected pallet garden at Merici is an example of how you can upcycle materials to make great Christmas gifts!


Christmas in the Wide Brown Land conjures up imagery of Santa delivering presents in his boardies, Paul Kelly making gravy (don’t forget tomato sauce for the sweetness/tang factor), and families gathering under Eucalyptus in blistering temps for lunch on the 25th. Not many sleigh bells, festive jumpers, or toasty fireplaces. But there is one seasonal stereotype we do share with our Northern Hemisphere neighbours – indulgence.

As the festive season approaches, Australians dig into their pockets to spend on gifts, food and celebrations. Much like the three wise men who lashed out on gold, frankincense and myrrh for the big day, we tend to go for extravagance at Christmas. The average Australian adult spends $993 on Christmas-related gifts and festivities each year – that’s over $16 billion between us!

All this consumption – of food, drink, and STUFF – can lead to some very un-festive impacts on the environment. Waste at Christmas is enormous, including packaging from gifts, surplus food, and even the gifts themselves if you haven’t done your Secret Santa research correctly. Plus, shipping and transportation for gifts bought online adds extra CO2 to the atmosphere. Happy Birthday, Jesus.

But fear not! There are plenty of ways to make your festive season more sustainable and get back to the important, joyous stuff that Christmas is all about. 

  1. Think about gifts before you buy them. Will cousin Nancy really want that? Have a ponder. Go for experiences and activities as gifts rather than things. Buy from ethical/sustainable providers like the Oxfam Shop. Go to the Canberra EcoElves Night market this Friday to find plenty of sustainable gifts from a range of local stallholders.
  2. Make rather than buy. Jesus was a carpenter, and who better to take inspiration from at Christmas!? Handmade gifts are FUN, can be custom-made for your giftee, and they’ll probably be chuffed you went to the trouble. Everyone wins. Ideas include making zero-waste toiletries,  baking some delicious treats, making beeswax wraps, sewing something, gifting a plant you’ve grown from seed, or even making some hand-crafted timber goods like a chopping board or some recycled pallet furniture for the more skilled!
  3. Be a warrior on Waste. Don’t be gluttonous. Use your surplus Christmas lunch for leftover sambos. Compost your food scraps or find a neighbour who can on ShareWaste.
  4. Rap, don’t wrap. Instead of wrapping your gifts in reels of wrapping paper, consider spending your time making up a holiday rap instead to perform for the fam when things get a little tired on Christmas arvo. If you must wrap your gifts, use recyclable or reusable materials like brown paper, fabric, tins or boxes.
  5. Consider serving some veggies on Christmas Day. Have a squizz at these Christmas-appropriate vegetarian dishes. Or these ones. Christmas won’t be cancelled if you substitute one or two meat dishes for a veggie one – why not spice up the menu!?  
  6. Turn your trash in to treasure (or Christmas decorations)! Check out these ideas for some fun Christmas craft projects that don’t hurt the Earth.
  7. Use nature’s air-conditioning. Sometimes the Aussie heat at Christmas is too much to handle and you need the aircon. For other times, think about sitting under the shade of a tree or going for a swim instead of cranking your indoor cooling system.  

Merry Sustainable Christmas from your friendly Merici Green Team!


Bec DeCourcy

Sustainabilty Officer


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