This is a special time of year for many, but it’s also a time when we tend to buy a lot of stuff we don’t need, and that hurts not only our pockets but the planet too.
Worldwide, waste generation increases considerably over the holiday period, but Justice Tootla, managing director of waste-management company Averda says there are easy things we can do to make sure our festivities have a lighter environmental footprint:
- Plan ahead. By getting organised you will avoid that panicked last-minute rush and buying things you don’t need.
- Green your decorations. Why not ditch the tacky plastic and try something more creative and sustainable to brighten your home? You could seek inspiration from nature and choose living plants and natural decorations as your theme. Or make decorations from old Christmas cards and other household items that would otherwise be thrown away. Consider making your own crackers with treats inside, rather than useless plastic that will only end up in landfill.
- Choose gifts with care. Make sure that you’re buying things that will be put to good use for a long time. Or better still, gift an experience, for example a subscription, a concert ticket, or a spa day. A memory lasts a lifetime.
- Local is lekker. Besides being great for our economy, buying local reduces pollution caused by the shipping of goods. Check out local Christmas markets or give home-made gifts.
- Perfect your packaging. To save money and trees, ditch wrapping paper in favour of cloth, old magazines, discarded comics or even old maps.
- Switch to e-cards. If you are a family that likes to send out “season’s greetings” cards, it’s easy to switch to digital options, saving on postage and ensuring delivery. There are many creative and easy apps that you can use.
- Love your plates and cutlery. Using disposable plates and utensils might seem like the quick-and-easy solution to cleaning up, but they take their toll on the environment.
- Minimise food waste. Leftovers can be delicious and there are so many recipe ideas online. Alternatively, donate food to those in need.
- Celebrate our environment by leaving it beautiful. We all like to be outside at this time of year, but when heading to the beach, it is your responsibility to make sure that no unnecessary waste is left behind that could very likely land up in the ocean. Adapt a “reducing, reusing, and recycling” mentality, and incorporate practices like carrying reusable bags into your daily routine to reduce waste. Pack a pair of gloves, hand sanitiser and a bucket or bag when going to the beach so you can do your bit to keep litter out of the ocean.
- Make recycling easy for the whole family. Reducing waste and litter is ideal, but let’s also try to recycle as much of the unavoidable waste as possible. When the family are opening their gifts, have a recycling bin handy for paper, card and plastics.