Show your generosity to our planet this holiday season by avoiding waste. Here’s how.

The festive season is about showing generosity and sometimes this results in a bit of over-catering. Let's be generous to the environment this year by reducing food waste as well as gifting mindfully and reusing decorations.

During the festive season waste increases by 30%! So what can you do? Here are some tips to help you play your part in reducing waste and still enjoy the festivities.

  1. Food Waste Tips

Food waste is a sneaky landfill offender. Each year Australians waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food across the supply and consumption chain – this wastage equals about 312kg per person, equivalent to around one in five bags of groceries or $2,000 to $2,500 per household per year.

Most food breaks down, so it's easy to believe it's not harmful. However, it's actually one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions! When food is sent to landfill it decomposes without oxygen and produces methane. It's also a waste of the precious resources that went into producing and transporting that food.

  • Plan your menu - this is a great start to avoid food waste - think about how many people you are feeding and what you'll cook.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it! This helps us to only buy what we need - check what you have in stock in your pantry and fridge first.
  • Avoid buying plastic wrapped fruit and vegetables.
  • Portion Control - Lay out your wonderful festive feast so that your family and guests can help themselves. This avoids overfilling plates and they can always come back for seconds.
  • Store leftovers properly - There will always be leftovers at this time of year. To make sure they are good to eat the next day, store in airtight containers or cover bowls with silicon lids or bees wax wraps. Try to avoid cling film. Ask your guests to bring containers so they can enjoy some leftovers home too!
  • Get creative with leftovers - Cook once, eat twice! You can have more time relaxing with family and friends if you can eat leftovers and avoid cooking another meal. Google search left-over ingredients for recipe suggestions. Try Ozharvest's 'Roast Fritters' – simply combine roast vegetable leftovers with eggs, cheese, olive oil and flour. Heat oil and fry in a pan until golden brown.
  • Freeze leftovers - slices of turkey and ham carved from the bone can be frozen in containers for up to 3 months. (separate the slices with kitchen paper in-betweens)
  • Compost your vegetable scraps - save vegetable scraps from landfill by having a Compost bin or worm farm. And if you don't have one yet (put it on your wishlist) look for a community compost bin nearby.

2. Mindful Gift Giving

Australians receive more than 20 million unwanted gifts each year. If they are not exchanged or re-gifted, a percentage will end up in landfill. 5 billion pounds of returned items end up in landfill every year. Some 61% of Americans surveyed admit to getting at least one unwanted gift over the holidays, totaling roughly 154 million American adults.⁠

  • Give edible and DIY gifts - granola in a glass jar, wrapped with reused ribbon , spiced nuts or cookies! Potted herbs from your garden; fill empty jam jars with homemade chutney.
  • Gift experiences, not stuff - concert tickets; cooking or permaculture classes; online courses; donations to charities; online masterclasses; virtual workout class membership; meditation classes…
  • Buy locally made gifts from markets and small businesses.
  • Regift & shop second hand - 56% of respondents of a US survey say they would welcome second hand gifts⁠. Plus vintage is in!
  • Avoid unwanted gifts by asking people what they want - get your family to send you a "wish list" so you know you are getting them something they really need.
  • Avoid unnecessary packaging - opt for minimally packaged products and products gifted in recycled materials!
  • Reuse wrapping paper, gift bags and ribbons - If every household in the US wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. It is estimated that in the UK each year, 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bin as well as 445,788 kilometres (277,000 miles) of wrapping paper!

3. Reuse Decorations

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  • Reuse your existing decorations - forever.
  • If you already have a plastic tree - use it forever.
  • Decorate a potted plant that you already have.
  • Get creative and make a crafty tree out of household items (bottles, corks, books, strings of lights)
  • Get a live tree and keep it planted all year round.
  • To save money and electricity this year, consider switching to LED lights or solar-powered festive lights.

So let's be generous to the environment this year by following a few of these tips and enjoy a low-waste festive season.

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