REduce waste

Having a more sustainable Christmas doesn’t mean going without. But it may mean a little extra planning and a touch of creativity.

It’s that time of year again! Plans are being made, money is being spent and the festive season can mean even the most avid waste warrior and sustainability advocate can get swept up in the season of overconsumption and extravagance. Read about simple tips and advice for making sustainable choices this Christmas.


Australians are expected to spend more than $30 billion on Christmas presents this year, with a large portion expected to come from online sales. That’s a fair chunk of dough for stuff that people may not even need.

Consider sharing a piece of that pie with local Brisbane businesses. Just by buying local handmade gifts or experiences, you’ll help reduce the gift’s carbon footprint. Hit up your local artisan Christmas markets and support a local maker, buy vouchers at your favourite restaurants, and consider consumable gifts like yummy hampers with locally made foods.


Discover the Japanese art of furoshiki and wrap your gifts in reusable scarfs. Scarfs can be picked up for as little as $2 from your local op shop. Make it part of the gift or ask the recipient to pass the scarf back to you if they don’t have a use for it. You still get all the joy of unwrapping a gift with none of the waste! You can even make the wrapping part of the gift with a nice tote bag or tea towel.


Since the Queensland Government’s single-use plastic ban, a wide range of alternative materials have been released, creating a new – albeit somewhat more sustainable waste stream. Many of these alternative materials are labelled biodegradable or compostable and while many will eventually break down in a home or industrial composting facility, they are a single-use product requiring resources to manufacture and transport, which contributes to carbon emissions.

The most sustainable product is a reusable product. This may seem daunting at Christmas when you’re catering for more than you normally would. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Visit your local Brisbane City Council Treasure Trove or op shop to pick up extra plates, glassware and cutlery for a fraction of the cost. Don’t shy away from mismatched items that can be kept for future parties or simply donated again.


We all want our home to feel and look like Christmas, but Christmas decorations are often made cheaply and from plastics including glitter and tinsel. Consider purchasing second-hand decorations from op shops or online. Have a craft day and make your own decorations or attend a workshop to learn how to make your own wreath and other decorations. You can also have a go at making your own Christmas crackers and hats. When buying new, consider the quality of the product, how it will need to be disposed and its carbon footprint. Like gift giving – a local maker is a good place to start.


No matter how good we are at reducing our waste, there’s always items that will need to be recycled. Brisbane City Council’s free bin and recycling app will make sure you’re sending as little to landfill as possible. If you’re worried there’s not enough space in your recycling bin, you can even upgrade to a larger recycling bin for free!


Help fight food waste this Christmas by not over catering. If you do have leftovers, ask your guests to BYO a container so they can take home leftovers. This will free up space in your fridge and will mean you’re not eating Christmas ham or Aunty Judy’s pavlova into 2024. For more food saving ideas check out Brisbane City Council’s Save Money, Save Food Challenge.

While it’s fantastic to have a sustainable Christmas, remember that reducing waste at home doesn’t end at the holidays. Find out how your household can make positive changes to help create a clean and green Brisbane all year round.

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This post was written by the BSA Sustainable Living team! We’re here to help you reduce your environmental footprint and lower your cost of living along the way.

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