Christmas shopping

Two young children decorating a Christmas tree

Christmas and other special events are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends. But these events often include a lavish meal and gifts, with the potential for wasted food, unwanted presents and a great deal of unnecessary packaging. Fortunately, minimising the negative environmental and health impact of these events does not need to be difficult.

Top 5 ways to shop sustainably for special events

1. Use a living Christmas tree

The most sustainable Christmas tree is a home-made arrangement of branches, or a potted plant such as an Australian native pine – something you can use year after year. It is always better to buy a plant instead of non-biodegradable plastic, even if your intention is to buy and reuse a plastic tree. A plant is a renewable resource, 100 percent biodegradable and easily recycled.

2. Avoid food waste

On special occasions it is all too easy to buy too much of everything and end up with food waste, packaging waste and financial waste. Make a list before you leave home, of only the things you really need to buy. Send your guests home with leftovers to ensure nothing goes in the bin.

3. Buy sustainable gifts

We've all had the experience of being given something we don't want, like or need. Minimise waste by buying sustainable gifts such as donations and experiences, or gifts made from recycled materials.

4. Shop locally

Shopping locally, from groceries to gifts to decorations, will support the local economy and employment, and minimise energy expenditure and emissions associated with transport. Buying Aussie-made – or where possible, Victorian made – means fewer miles travelled and less pollution associated with climate-change.

5. Minimise and recycle packaging

Get creative with your gift wrapping, using recycled ribbons and paper, or wrapping gifts in towels or art drawn by the kids. Avoid gifts with excess packaging, opting instead for sustainable gifts and try fun e-cards instead of paper gift cards. Remember to take reusable bags from home when shopping rather than use single-use plastic bags.

Other ways to shop sustainably

Every time we purchase a product or service – gifts, food, fashion, a property, appliances, a hot water system and our energy suppliers – we have the option to shop sustainably. Decide on an area that's important to you and start making a difference through your choices.

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