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Northern Valleys Waste Watcher – December

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Do your find your year-round good intentions starting to slip with the busy-ness of the festive season approaching? It’s easy to do, completely understandable and forgivable! Here are some ways to tackle your waste reduction when it comes to gift-giving this Christmas:

Shop with meaning — When you are shopping, have a think about not only who you are buying for, but what you are buying and who you are buying it from. If you can buy local, handmade, or upcycled gifts, you are helping your community. Focus on quality over quantity. Encourage a secret Santa draw – immediately the number of gifts you must buy is reduced, and you can spend a bit more time and money selecting the perfect gift for your recipient.

Packaging — Any parent who has wrestled with hard plastic packaging, cable ties, and items screwed to a plastic base at 6am on December 25 will tell you packaging sucks. And how many people are hanging for rubbish collection day after the holidays, bins overflowing with plastic and gift wrapping? It’s unfortunately very hard to avoid packaging when that must-have gift only comes one way. If you do have freedom of choice with what to gift, then look to books, teddy bears, games and puzzles which have minimal packaging. The next best option is to look for cardboard packaging and other recyclable materials. If you are comfortable gifting second-hand items this is another great option, with online platforms such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace making it easier to search for what you need.

I think it is also beneficial to take as many presents out of the packets before the big day, giving you time to treat the waste appropriately (recycle, reuse etc), rather than getting overwhelmed at the shear amount of mess on the day and just chucking the lot in the bin.

Give experiences over things — Tickets to the movies, play centres, Timezone, Outback Splash and events provide a wonderful opportunity to make memories without creating any waste. If the budget allows you can even pay for a term of swimming, gymnastics, dance classes etc, a gift that keeps on giving through the year.

Reduce gift wrapping — Utilise ALL the artwork that comes home from school this time of year or has been building up into a hazardous pile of flammable material all year round and turn it into gift wrapping. I have for the first time this year purchased reusable cloth drawstring gift bags to use in lieu of wrapping paper and I’m looking forward to how easy that job is going to be! For an eco-alternative, brown recycled paper with natural embellishment such as a gum leaf is simple and effective. Write the recipients name directly on the paper or make a salt dough ornament gift tag. Or did you know cellophane is compostable? It is derived from cellulose, a plant-based material. Just make sure it is cellophane, as a lot of plastics have a similar appearance.