How to have a plastic-free Christmas
TIS the season to be jolly but at what expense to the environment?
It's a question that's increasingly playing on the minds of Australians looking for ways to reduce waste at Christmas.
From gift wrapping and cards to excess food and unwanted gifts, the amount of junk we create for that one day in December explodes.
According to CARE Australia, Australians use more than 150,000km in Christmas gift wrap alone.
But the tide is turning with more and more people looking for zero waste alternatives.
Pinterest has confirmed that it's top 10 Christmas trends for 2018 include upcycled ornaments and zero waste gift wrapping.
Tracey Bailey, founder of the eco-friendly store Biome, says the type of plastic most Christmas ornaments are made from takes hundreds of years to break down in landfill.
"You can give them a new lease on life with a fresh coat of paint or new string, and make them sparkle with plastic-free biodegradable glitter," she said.
Ms Bailey spent years working for some of the largest brands in the world before launching her eco-friendly venture.
"I worked in public relations for mining companies and big brands in Indonesia," she said.
"It made me very aware of the global economy and the social responsibility on western countries.
"A lot of the resources are being taken from developing countries including human resources and forestry."
Ms Bailey's top three tips are:
*Wrap in fabric: Use recycled wrapping paper or cloth. Go to an op shop and buy a beautiful old scarf, linen or serviettes that have already been pre-used. Or cuts of fabric from a friend you may know that sews or use old sheets. Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping fabric. It's been used for over 1200 years and is a zero waste alternative to Christmas wrapping paper.
*Invest in longterm decorations: Try and avoid cheaper, throwaway decorations if you can. Invest in a Christmas tree and decorations you will use for a lifetime. Think about something that will last a long time and something ideally made from natural materials rather than plastic.
*Choose recycled cards: Opt for Australian-made cards produced from recycled paper that give back to charity. And you can always cut out pretty pictures from last year's Christmas cards and use them as gift tags.
Gold Coast woman Kira Simpson studied environmental science and has gone on to become an influencer in the mindful movement.
Last month she launched the first edition of The Green Hub online magazine.
She says there is a hunger for people to get information on how to be more environmentally friendly in their daily lives.
"I think the War on Waste (ABC documentary series) last year has really helped that, it's brought the conversation mainstream," she says.
"People are listening, they are paying attention and they are hungry to be more mindful".
Her top three tips are:
*Only buy the food you need: Make sure leftovers are eaten by sending guests home with a doggy bag or using them yourself the week following.
*Compost your food scraps: When food accumulates in landfills, it begins to decompose; it's then broken down by bacteria through anaerobic digestion which means there's not enough oxygen reaching all the food waste. Without oxygen to facilitate the decaying process the food waste begins to produce methane a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. My pick is a Bokashi. It's small and portable so perfect for apartments or rentals.
Buy gifts people want: Australians are expected to spend $51.5 billion during the Christmas sales period, according to Royal Morgan's latest estimate, which represents an increase of 2.9 per cent on last year. Ask friends and family what they want so you're buying something they will use, instead of discarding. Or buy them an experience such as a movie or theatre tickets, or something fun like a progressive dinner.