Image Credit: Chad Madden - Unsplash
We're counting down the days to the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, we're talking about Christmas! It is a season filled with warmth, love, and joy spending quality time with those who matter. But do you know that Christmas is also a period that generates a ton of waste annually?
The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) reported that the amount of waste generated locally has risen by seven times over the last 40 years. Furthermore, our traditional practice of preparing sumptuous feasts and using elaborate packaging during festive seasons intensify the waste issue in Singapore.
We believe that having an eco-friendly Christmas does not have to be a hassle. If you're scratching your head because you're unsure of how you can get started, we're here to help you out! From sustainable holiday decorations to organizing a zero-waste dinner, read on to discover four easy tips you can try out to make your holiday celebration an eco-friendly affair.
Upcycle and Recycle Your Christmas Decorations
Christmas ornaments such as sparkly baubles, fairy lights, ribbons and wreaths are just some of the things that give your home a festive touch, but instead of spending money on new ones, why not reuse last year's decorations? Give past year's decorations a new lease of life by sprucing it up. If you want to DIY your decorations, add a splash of fun and creativity by gathering the kids for an art & crafts session they would love! Get their creative juices flowing by repurposing items lying around the home as Christmas decorations.
Do you know that some of the ornaments can be made using recycled greeting cards, buttons and salt dough? Also, who knows, your little one's toys could be a perfect addition to your Christmas tree! And how about those snow sprays we love using to give our homes a wintery feel? We advise giving that a pass as most of it contains harmful ingredients, which are environmental pollutants. Instead, you could use cotton balls to create the snow-like effect at home. We're certain it will add to the festive atmosphere.
Eco-Friendly Gifts for Your Loved Ones
Showing someone how much they mean to you does not require an extravagant gift; instead, shower them with gifts from the heart, which could also be sustainable options! Shop from brands that sell sustainable products such as Caudalie, Biossance and LUSH. We're giving additional bonus points to these eco-conscious brands because they don't test on animals too. Digital gifts such as a Masterclass all-access pass or e-gift cards are another fantastic sustainable gifting option to consider if you're pressed for time or even if you'd like to forgo gift wrapping altogether.
Next on our list is experiential gifts. Create special memories by gifting a bungee jumping pass for your adrenaline-junkie buddy, home cleaning service or a relaxing day at a spa for someone who would love to rejuvenate from all that hard work they've put in this year. We know that's a gift we would love to receive!
There are probably occasions whereby you end up not using the gifts you have received. And since it's such a shame to let it go to waste, why not pass it on to someone you'll know would appreciate it? Regifting does not have to be a bad thing; we think it's even worse to let it lie around collecting dust in the corner of your bedroom.
Sustainable Gift Wraps
Image credit: Juliana Malta - Unsplash
There's no denying that sometimes, we tend to go all out by ensuring that our gifts are wrapped in colorful and sparkling packaging because presentation is key, right? Well, you may want to consider that again because gift wraps tend to be one of the significant culprits of holiday waste as they're often ripped up and tossed in the trash. Even if we decided to discard it in the recycle bin, most wrapping papers or gift bags we see are not recyclable as they are usually lined with plastic or embellished with glitter. Moreover, glitter is generally produced from etched aluminum attached to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is a type of microplastic that threatens marine life.
For this reason, we suggest beautifying your gifts with sustainable options instead because there are a multitude of alternatives available! One easy way is to opt for recyclable wrapping paper that does not contain inks or glossy prints and do without tape using old ribbons or strings.
Image credit: Sepideh Doost - Unsplash
It's time to get creative and score presentation points by customizing your gift wraps. To get started, we suggest stocking up on craft supplies such as washi tapes and Kraft paper (which are recyclable and biodegradable). Washi tape is a visually appealing and affordable option that could brighten up your gift wraps. Plus, you choose from a vast selection of eye-catching patterns. If you'd like to opt for natural alternatives, you could adorn your gifts with twine and greenery.
Do you see old magazines, newspapers, paper shopping bags around your home? Keep gift wrapping simple by using these resources. You could even add a touch of personalization by using your artwork as meaningful gift packaging.
The next option you could try is Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese art of wrapping gifts with fabric that's gaining traction in recent years. Don't wish to buy new pieces of fabric? Don't worry, you could reuse items such as bandanas, scarves, and you could even cut up your old t-shirts to wrap your gifts.
Plan a Zero-Waste Christmas Dinner
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It is customary for us to order or prepare lavish meals on special occasions and festive seasons, but often, this leads to unnecessary food wastage. Fortunately, there are many options for us to choose from which will produce less food waste and you can practice all year round. We can choose to start shopping sustainably and cut back from having an excessive number of dishes.
Have you ever considered trying plant-based food? Well, we recommend giving soy-based products, Impossible Foods and Quorn a try! Research has shown that livestock production has been one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions derived from food. A reduction in animal-based food consumption is one way to lower the impact on our environment significantly.
If you're looking for ways to avoid overindulging and having a lot of leftover food, it's always best to plan ahead by creating a grocery shopping list detailing the items you need and their quantity. We believe that this is also a fantastic way to prevent yourself from over-shopping or impulse purchases in check. We would also like to add a quick reminder to bring your reusable shopping bags when you’re heading to the supermarket! Even if you still end up having leftovers, repurpose them and channel your inner chef by whipping up a quick and tasty dish that's perfect for Boxing day. Voilà, that’s another easy way to reduce food waste!
When the pandemic situation has improved, and it is safe to host parties with a larger crowd, we recommend giving the disposables a miss and opting for reusable dinnerware and cutleries to prevent single-use plastic waste.
While it requires a conscious effort to be mindful of what we choose to purchase and indulge in during the festive season (and every other day), that does not mean we can't keep the holiday spirit alive. Whether you decide on styling your gifts more sustainably or sprucing up your old Christmas decorations, every little bit of effort counts in making a difference in reducing the environmental impact during the holidays. So, set your Christmas playlist on repeat and start making plans on how you could incorporate the tips we've shared in your festive celebrations! 🎁 🎄