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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to be sustainable


19 December 2019 at 8:29 am
Maggie Coggan
We round up some of the best and easiest ways to reduce your environmental footprint this Christmas  


Maggie Coggan | 19 December 2019 at 8:29 am


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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to be sustainable
19 December 2019 at 8:29 am

We round up some of the best and easiest ways to reduce your environmental footprint this Christmas  

Presents, enough food to feed a small army, and a good pavlova are some of the classic ingredients to a great Christmas. 

But according to the National Retail Association, Australians are set to spend $14 billion in the final week before Christmas on food and last minute gifts and decorations, and unfortunately, all the food-waste, plastic, wrapping paper, and stocking filler gifts that you’re never actually going to use all leave a pretty nasty mark on the planet. 

So we pulled together some quick and easy ways to reduce your footprint, without becoming the grinch of Christmas.  

Get creative with your presents 

It’s three days out from Christmas, and the panic is starting to set it. You haven’t bought your dad a present, and you still have no idea what to get him. It will be tempting to get him a “fun” shirt that’s going to sit at the back of his cupboard forever, but you also know you can do better. 

Getting your dad (or anyone else for that matter) an “experience” gift, such as a subscription to your local theatre company or a voucher for the new Indian restaurant everyone’s been raving about, will be way more fun and have a whole lot more meaning to your loved one. 

You could also try to impress them by making a present – like a nice jam, or knitting a scarf. Not only will it mean more, you’re also cutting down your consumption rate which the planet will thank you for. 

Branch out from a traditional Christmas tree  

While a classic pine-needle tree is nostalgic and sets a nice Christmas tone to the house, they usually end up making a big mess, and a lot of the time, get thrown out after a couple of months. 

So instead of buying a new one this year, try decorating an indoor plant, decorate some fallen gum-tree branches, or plant a native tree. If you’re a bit stuck for native plant ideas, check out this round up from National Geographic.   

All wrapped up 

Despite what you might have heard, pretty much anything can be used as wrapping paper if you’re determined enough. Spare bits of material, reusable shopping bags, and tote bags you’ve collected over the years are all suitable alternatives. Plus, you or the person receiving the gift will be able to keep using them for years to come. 

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, making your own fabric bags out of spare material is a great little extra to a present, and shows that you’ve gone that little extra mile. 

It always tastes better the next day 

With over 5 million tonnes of food going to landfill in Australia each year, get your Chrissy lunch or dinner guests to bring a tupperware container to help out with the left-overs. This avoids you being left with all the food, which might be too much to go through on your own.  

A gift with a difference 

One of the biggest ways you can make a social difference these days is supporting a for-purpose business. The Australian social enterprise scene has flourished over the last couple of years, so why not choose a brand that not only makes high-quality, and often locally made products, but is giving back to the community as well? 

If you’re a bit stuck for an idea, or just don’t know where to start, have a flick through this year’s “Good Xmas Trail”, by Goodsmiths, or Australian Ethical’s top picks for guilt free gifts.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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