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Reduce waste this holiday season

Join Erin Rhoads, the Rogue Ginger and waste-free advocate for some tips on waste reduction this festive season.

Want to reduce your waste this Christmas? Erin Rhoads, the Rogue Ginger and waste-free advocate, has some great tips to help reduce your waste this holiday season.

We've read the alarming stats on how much waste is created during the holiday season. It can be overwhelming to hear that 150,391km of wrapping paper is used to wrap presents in Australia. That’s enough paper to wrap Australia over 6 times, or to wrap around the world 3.75 times!

Reactions to this information has been met with an encouraging number of people wanting to make a change and reduce their waste.

It might seem daunting to create no waste at Christmas or other events happening at this time of year, but if you can make just one or two changes, this will create the ground work for more changes the following year or perhaps encourage a relative or friend to make a new year’s resolution for reducing their plastic or to even start composting.

I like to break down events into sections and look at where waste is created in each area to make it less overwhelming.

If you’re planning events with family or friends, let them know what you’re trying to achieve. You don't have to include a diatribe about all the plastic in the ocean; Just keep it simple and to the point, as some people may feel like you’re attacking them on their own behaviour.

There are many news articles appearing on websites and you can even share this article in emails footers or on your Facebook page letting them know about your intentions to create less waste this Christmas.

The thought of challenging old traditions and habits can seem overwhelming, and this isn't a bad thing. We all have the opportunity to evolve and improve … remember Christmas was celebrated in a completely different way 200 years ago.

1. Clearly set up bins

With more people coming to your house, it's a good idea to set up bins and label them clearly. One for food waste, one for paper and glass, one for soft plastics and one for landfill. Make it easy for guests to make the right decision.


2. Gifts

Gifts can send people into panic, often with us only buying items because we feel required to rather than asking what is actually needed. If there are people in your life that like to buy gifts, then write a list of what you need to help reduce getting items you won't use. This could be an experience voucher or gift voucher for your favourite bulk food store or nursery!

Instead of buying new wrapping paper, visit your local op shop to see what they have available. They often have half rolls for sale, gift bags along with tags and Christmas cards. Other options are to wrap gifts with reusable cloth (look up Furoshiki) or even tea-towels.


3. Food and drinks

On average our bins are made up of 40% food and with an increase in social gatherings that percentage grows. Careful planning at the beginning will keep food waste to a minimum. Simple steps like meal planning and writing shopping lists lessens impulse food buying. Don't forget the reusable produce bags for your fruit and vegetables. Help fight climate change by choosing local and seasonal fruit and vegetables.

You can cut back on packaging and fight food waste by shopping at bulk food stores. Shopping at bulk stores also allows you to buy the exact amount you need, unlike supermarkets where we don't have a choice. Visit to find a bulk food store or co-op near you.

Serve food on real plates, with real cutlery and cups instead of disposable plastic. Ask family and friends to borrow extra if you don't have enough or see what the local op shop has too.


4. Decorations

The most sustainable decorations are the ones you already have and that already exist. Secondhand decorations can be found at local op shops and even Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Ebay. Decorate your home and table with natural flowers and foraged items from the garden or a

bushwalk. These can be composted at home or in your green waste bin.


5. Try your best

Don't fret if the zero-waste Christmas you have envisioned doesn't happen perfectly. I always aim to do the best I can, with what I've got where I am, knowing that trying my best is better than not trying at all. And if I can inspire someone around me to make any change then that’s the best gift of all.


Merry Christmas!

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