WASTE NOTTHIS CHRISTMAS
You’ve found your way to the Sustainability in Style ‘Tis the Season’ section of our ‘Take Action’ collection. This collection of posts and it’s home page are loaded with ideas on how you can take action this holiday season to reduce your negative impact on people and planet.
From reducing your food waste, to shopping for gifts in mindful ways, these tips should help inspire you to live life in Sustainable Style during the festive season (minus the overwhelm).
Some of the resources on this page date back to the beginnings of Sustainability in Style’s online journey as a personal blog. We acknowledge that ‘Christmas’ is commonly used in older posts due to our geographical locations (Australia) recognition of this holiday time. However, the term ‘holiday’ is now used as the season of celebration expands to be inclusive of other cultural and religious beliefs.
You’ve found your way to the action-based section of Sustainability in Style. The place and space that shares previous action adventures conducted in Sustainable Style.
Whatever it is that you value, we invite you to explore, connect, and tread a little lighter on our planet holiday season.
Celebrate this season with big love.
Tradition dictates that Christmas is all about gathering together for a meal and stuffing ourselves silly. From the videos shown here (there’s an older one that ran with the post and an updated one), it is clear that the Christmas season is one of the most wasteful times of the year when it comes to over-stocking the fridge and overstuffing our bellies. While it’s nice to shower your friends and family with an abundant selection of food choices (packaged or not), it’s not all that ethical to be cooking more than you need.
- Don’t waste food scraps – place in a compost bin or worm farm.Your scraps will be back feeding your garden and reducing water use in no time. Compost bins and worm farms make excellent Christmas gifts too! Some councils allow food scraps in the green organics bin
- Most food and drink packaging, including bottles, jars, cans and tins, cardboard boxes and cartons, can be recycled. If you’re in an area with cash for can facilities don’t forget to cash in cans and bottles with a 10 cent deposit.
- Give bottles, jars and tins a quick rinse before placing in your recycling bin to ensure these are free from food contamination that may resign them to landfill. The water you use to rinse will be more than made up for in the water saved recycling versus making a new item from raw materials. Or better still, save bottles and tins until you wash all your regular dishes, then wash your recycling at the end.
- Does the triangular symbol with a number from 1 to 7 in it mean the item is recyclable? No! This is a plastics identification code used by manufacturers to label the type of plastic. What is recyclable is determined by the recycling facilities in your local area. Generally speaking, rigid plastic bottles and containers that hold their own shape, including soft drink and milk bottles as well as take-away containers, can be recycled in your recycling bin across Australia. Soft plastics create problems at kerbside recycling facilities so never place recyclables in plastic bags. Put all recyclables into the recycling bin loose, and soft plastics and bags can be recycled via RedCycle at most Woolworths and Coles stores or placed in the waste bin.
- Lids can be recycled depending on your local council recycling facilities. Or, depending on your location, there may be a separate plastic lid, bottle top or ring pull, collection for charity.
PLANNING YOUR MEALS
Planning is key when it comes to reducing food waste. Many of us give little thought to exactly what we will eat and what quantities we require ingredients in. These two factors combined result in finding limp broccoli in the corners of our crispers. The folks over at Foodwise have identified that many of us are a little useless at shopping smart (with Australian’s discarding of around 20% of the food we purchase) and have come up with a clever tool for an easy, stress and waste-free week. By helping you select, plan and shop for the days ahead the Meal Planner will save you money, time and help you on the way to a more environmentally friendly kitchen. Why not try it out in the lead up to Christmas!
While we are on the topic of food lets talk ethics. While no diet is completely sustainable (everything we eat has an impact somewhere) we can make more sustainable and ethical choices. When it comes to food consumption choices meat has been shown to be less efficient and more environmentally damaging than veggie based proteins. This is a sad but true fact for many rampant carnivores. Traditionally Christmas has been based around the carving of the turkey or celebrating family over a crackled pork roast. While these aren’t the most environmentally friendly (and certainly not animal friendly) ways to eat, many people out there can’t imagine a Christmas without these protein staples. This year why not try for a low to no meat or animal products meal.
For those who eat meat why not try for just one dish with animal products (try to find a local ethical producer) then make the rest of your food choices vegan or vegetarian. Another option is to include extras like sustainably sourced mussels and oysters. There is a good chance that the meat-eating people attending your party won’t even notice you have gone for Vegan options if you provide a central meat dish! A quick google will help you to find a Vegan or Vegetarian alternative to pretty much any Christmas staple, from faux turkey (beware of depending on these kinds of things too often as they are usually pretty heavy on the plastic wrapping) to White Christmas (pictured above).
If you are interested in eating sustainably and lowering your food waste check out these links for more info:
TAKE THE HOLIDAY CHALLENGE
VALUES MOTIVATORS AND ON-THE-GO WASTE REDUCTION
We know (and celebrate) that everyone’s approach to dining in Sustainable Style is a little bit different. While some of us would love to spend two days in the kitchen preparing a full home grown feast, others struggle to carve out enough time for a breakfast smoothie during silly-season. Here are considerations for you no matter what your Values Motivators are.
ANIMAL WELFARE AND COMPASSION
- Develop a love for worms! They aren’t as cuddly-looking as a koala or as pettable as a pooch, but they can do wonders to reduce waste! Consider investing in a worm farm. They don’t take up too much space, and it is surprising how attached you can get to them.
- This Christmas, try making your own Vegan cheeses, desserts, milk (for Santa’s milk and cookies), or meatloaf’s from scratch. There are many great ready-made options on the market, but they are often wrapped in plastic or loaded with salts and sugars. Get some like-minded friends together and have a vegan food prep party.
- Consider your pets and other folks’ pets. Can you find healthy DIY pet treat recipes for gift ideas? Many of your animal-loving friends will be thrilled to receive a recycled jar full of home-made pet treats as a gift (and you know they will get eaten because pets can’t resist, and owners love to treat their furry friends).
- Leave water out for native animals and birds. It can be sweltering during the Australian Christmas season. Leaving some fresh water out for wildlife can really assist. Make sure to place the water source in a place that’s not accessible for your domestic pets. You don’t want to lure birds in and have your dog or cat injure them!
- Reach out to a food rescue or recovery service in your local area. Many organisations are popping up that reclaim unwanted but still editable food and provide it to those who will eat it. There are large scale organisations that you will find through an internet search. However, it might be nice to work within your local community. If you notice a café, bakery, or grocery store disposing of end-of-day items, ask them where they go. This can be an opportunity to link them with a local charity for distribution. Many of the Op-Shops in my local area are gifted end-of-day bread that they offer for free to those who come to their store.
- You’re likely planning a large social gathering for the holidays. If this is the case, you could work on a meal plan in advance and ask each attendee to bring a dish that would be enough food to feed the number of people they bring to the event. Or, if you like to cook, ask them to bring a takeaway container that is large enough to feed those who live in their house. This planning gives greater control regarding the amount of food coming into the house and the left-overs that you will try to squeeze into your fridge at the end of the event.
- When purchasing your food, shop local. Connect with local farmers and ask them about their produce. Find local initiatives that support marginalised groups by providing employment (i.e., where do farmers hire their labour from, is there a local food co-op that hires people who are differently-abled). If you can find places that connect people and food that you can visit in person, this will likely appeal to your social value set. Nothing nicer than getting a jar of ‘Grandma’s Pickles’ from the Grandma who made it at your local maker market!
- Set yourself the challenge of seeing how much food you can grow at home for the holidays. Whether it’s a balcony or window ledge garden or a sprawling vegetable patch with your own chickens, cows, and bees, anyone who has grown-their-own will know just how satisfying this can be!
- Aim for organic. Supermarkets now offer a wide range of organic choices but the price can often be a barrier. If this is you, head to the local farmers’ markets and find items being sold as ‘spray-free’, ‘home-grown’ (or similar). Chat to the sellers about what their signage means. Often, they can’t afford (or be bothered with the process) to get organic certification. These types of farmers’ market vegetables are usually more cost-effective than certified organic.
- Find places that sell produce deemed ‘too ugly’ for the supermarkets (supermarkets don’t accept misshapen fruit and vegetables, which results in huge amounts of food waste). Many supermarket chains now have ‘ugly’ produce sold cheaper but usually in plastic packaging. Ask around your local area and check farmers’ markets. We get lots of supermarket-rejected ‘ugly’ produce sold at our local farmers market, and it is the most cost-effective way to grocery shop.
- If you have produce in excess, find ways to pickle and preserve it. These make excellent gifts if presented in a nice recycled jar with a hand-made tag.
SIMPLICITY AND STREAMLINED LIFESTYLE
- Plan your holiday feast at a local café or restaurant. Choose one that has delicious meals served on real plates with proper cutlery. This way, you can have a fuss-free and simple meal, no waste, and no cleaning. You can up your eco-credentials by selecting a place that sources food locally and has plant-based meal options.
- Outsource tasks you don’t enjoy doing. The holidays come with an unwritten rule (passed down through many Christmas movies) that we must do all the festive stuff ourselves or as a family unit. The reality is that there are no ‘Christmas Police’ who will show up at your door to arrest you for hiring someone to cook, clean, or decorate for you. A service-based economy that offers people good money to do things they enjoy is far better than a disposable consumer society. If you can hire someone to cook you a plant-based feast- do it! It’s better than buying it all in plastic. Get someone who loves to do a deep green-clean into your house after the guests have all moved on rather than splash fast-fix chemical cleaners everywhere. Rent your decorations- you don’t have to store them, they aren’t single-use, and you give someone who loves decorating a job.
- Keep it simple! Minimalists often enjoy a minimalist aesthetic. Why not make your meal simple, beautiful, and tasty? A BBQ at the beach, a quaint picnic, or a simple healthy salad with protein might appeal more than spending hours in the kitchen cooking than trying to find somewhere to store all the leftovers.
KISS ECO-OVERWHELM GOODBYE
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