On the 31st of October, an enthusiastic bunch of locals gathered to share ideas for maximising fun while minimising waste this Christmas. It was a great opportunity to meet some wonderful new people, as well as catching up with some more familiar faces. Feedback from the evening was overwhelmingly positive so, while it no doubt loses something in the translation, for those who missed it, please try this at home:
1. Download The Story of Stuff from http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/
2. Gather with a group of friends and watch the film together (its only 20 minutes long so lots of time for chat afterwards).
3. Share your own ideas for making Christmas less wasteful and more fun. (ours are provided below)
4. Use the ideas this Christmas and reap the rewards!
IDEAS FOR A FUN, FABULOUS GREEN FESTIVE SEASON
Work on the principle: Refuse, refuse, refuse then reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (in that order).
· Reuse what you have or buy upcycled decorations made in the third world (eg. from Oxfam)
· Tree: Dress a topiary tree or a fallen branch for a modern look
· Make edible decorations like gingerbread stars and strings of popcorn
· Use old Christmas cards to make christmas decorations
· Make your own bon-bons using preused Christmas giftwrap and toilet rolls.
· Upcycle items that would otherwise be thrown away into decorations (eg. fabric into bunting),
· Use fresh food (eg. bowls of cherries or strawberries) or flowers for table decorations.
· Make an advent calendar from numbered leaves pegged to some string. On the back write/draw a task or experience for the day – eg. make gingerbread, visit Christmas lights, decorate tree
· If using Christmas lights, choose LEDs and set them to a timer to restrict hours of operation
· Donate decorations you no longer use to charity/op shops
· Send e-cards
· Start a boomerang card tradition: exchange the same card back & forth with a friend for as many years as you can
· Use Merry-go-round cards: the card can be reused indefinitely by changing the slip of paper with the message inside, users write their name on the back so the recipient can see where the card has been so far.
· If sending real cards, choose recycled or charity cards so someone else benefits
· Make your own plantable cards with homemade recycled paper in which plant seeds have been incorporated
· Create gift tags from old cards or even dried leaves
· Upcycle old cards into new cards
· Use reuseable fabric furoshiki squares to wrap gifts and remove the need for sticky tape and ribbon
· Use part of the gift to wrap itself (eg. pretty teatowels, hankies, scarves, pillowcases)
· Use fabric Christmas stockings instead of giftwrapping and reuse each year
· Reuse giftwrap/giftbags from received gifts – shred it for making filler for giftboxes if it’s not in fabulous condition
· Use reuseable cloth ribbon if necessary rather than single use ribbons
· Use childrens artworks, newspaper or pages from an old melways as giftwrap or turn it into giftbags
· If buying new giftwrap, buy paper (recycled is best) and avoid plastic/metalic wraps
· Choose gifts that are minimally packaged & made of, or packaged in, natural materials
· Choose gifts that are durable, serviceable and not dictated by fashion
· Give food, especially homemade, in clean/sterilised reused packaging, eg. gingerbeer, lemon butter, shortbread, gingerbread.
· Give plants: a potted flowering plant keeps giving for years while a bunch of flowers lasts a week
· Give experiences – eg.vouchers for massage, movie tickets, horse riding, dinner, cooking classes
· Give services – eg, babysitting, gardening, odd-jobs, housecleaning
· Give membership – eg. Zoo, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Gym
· Give cash rather than gift cards as these are an unnecessary piece of plastic which limit recipients to a particular store and need to be used within an expiry period.
· Create your own unique gifts by upcycling preloved goods or what would otherwise be waste.
· For someone who has everything, give to charity on their behalf (eg. Oxfam unwrapped, TEAR) – choose a gift or charity which reflects their values and interests.
· Give gifts that promote sustainable habits (eg.a bike, fruit tree, herbs, cloth bags)
· Avoid battery operated gifts or include rechargeable batteries and a charger with the gift
· Gifting preloved goods bought on eBay or at OP shops may mean you can afford a wanted gifted that would otherwise be too expensive – kids in particular probably won’t care if it’s not new.
· Regift a present you have received, which you won’t use, to someone who will appreciate it.
· Have a “kris-kringle” – this not only reduces the total amount of “stuff” exchanged but also either saves money or increases the money available for an individual gift.
· Prolong the gift-giving experience with a treasure hunt rather than more gifts. Give the kids clues to find their gift hidden in the house or garden.
· Rethink Santa’s role – rather than buying separate gifts from Santa, rethink his role as postman, to deliver any gifts from family or friends overseas.
· Shop for foods with minimal packaging
· Choose local, organic, seasonal produce where possible.
· Choose fresh foods in season & increase the servings of vegetables and fruit and reduce the amount of meat/seafood.
· Cater to minimise food waste – to determine how much to make to avoid overcatering consult a resource such as http://www.caterista.com/blog/2010/06/23/how-much-food-is-enough-to-cater-a-special-event/
· Use washable crockery/cutlery and catch up on the goss with Aunt Molly as you stack the dishwasher
· Compost food scraps
· If serving a buffet, don’t put all food out at once or return to fridge quickly, so leftovers can be eaten later
· Send guests home with a doggy bag.
· Ensure an ample supply of iced tap water is available
· Use cordials, diluted with tap water, rather than soft drink or use a SodaStream
· Serve freshly squeezed juices or homebrewed beer or gingerbeer (packaged in sterilized reused beer bottles)
· Choose glass or metal over plastic containers when buying beverages
· If serving a large crowd, choose larger containers (eg. multiserve bottles (eg. 3L) rather than individual bottles or cans) or consider a keg
· Use real not disposable glasses – mark with stickers or reuseable decals or wine glass trinkets to help guests identify their glass and prevent a new glass being used for each drink
· Recycle bottles and cans if used – have a large container accessible for collecting the empties.
· Enjoy the outdoors – being in nature connects us to the planet and makes us more likely to take care of it!
WHEN THE DUST SETTLES
· Real Chrissy tree: use pine needles as mulch for berry plants/ chop branches into firewood
· Upcycle received cards into cards or gift tags for future years (& recycle the scraps)
· Steer clear of the post-Christmas sales and spend time with the family or in the great outdoors instead!
REFERENCES OR FOR MORE IDEAS
Claire’s brewed gingerbeer: a refreshing beverage for Christmas day that also makes a nice gift!
Place 8 sultanas, juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp lemon rind, 4 teaspoons sugar, 2 tsp ground (powdered) ginger, 1/2 teaspoon compressed/bakers yeast, 1/2 litre of cold water in a 1 litre screwtop airtight jar – this is your gingerbeer plant.
Each day feed the plant with 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 4 teaspoons sugar for 7 days.
On the eighth day in a 20 litre pot put 4 cups sugar, 1 litre boiling water, juice of 4 lemons and the liquid from the gingerbeer plant (which has been strained through muslin and the muslin squeezed dry). Add 6 litres of cold water and stir with a clean sterilised spoon.
Transfer into many small sterilized bottles (leaving an air space at the top to reduce the risk of exploding bottles) and cap them. Leave them for a fortnight to mature then enjoy at your leisure (NB. Alcoholic)
Some specific gift ideas from attendees on the night:
- · Homecooking: Jams, pickles, rum balls, biscuits, lemon butter, brandied cumquats or a gingerbread house in reused containers (eg jars, festive tins), with homemade cards and wrapping made by the grandkids
- · Potted succulents or herbs in pots from an OP shop
- · Strawberries, flowering plants or seeds to plant in their garden (kids and adults alike)
- · Homemade knitted dishcloths
- · Invite friends without family closeby to join you for Christmas dinner
- · Books and toys handed down through the generations – such as lego, mechano set, dolls
- · Things you know the recipient wants/needs such as money, clothes, outdoor setting.
- · Ideas for kids: preloved/second hand toys etc, newspaper dressups
- · And my personal favourite, from the grandkids: a washed, used jar with a homemade label that reads “To my wonderful Nana, A year worth of kisses – 365 kisses from me to you!’
Transition Towns is all about unleashing the collective genius of our community, so please share any new ideas you may have, using the Comments section below.
Have a safe and happy festive season!!