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A brown paper wrapped present next to a candy cane and a glass of milk.
Photograph: Ylanite Koppens

The best ways to have a more sustainable Christmas

The most wonderful time of the year is often not very environmentally friendly, but there are heaps of ways to change that

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier
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As the big day approaches and you start to prepare for all of the festivities that come with it, consider making a few switches that will ensure your Christmas celebrations do as little harm to our planet as possible. Your Christmas will be just as fun, minus the negative impact on the environment. 

From mindful shopping suggestions to simple replacements for things like wrapping paper and traditional Christmas lights, these recommendations will help you host a fun and green Christmas. 

Looking for ways to give back to your community over the holidays? We've rounded up 12 ways you can spread some cheer.

How to have a sustainable Christmas in Melbourne

  • Shopping
  • Homewares

Many people have been opting for a plastic tree that can be reused year after year in the hopes that they are saving several live trees from getting the axe. But according to the Guardian, live trees are still the more environmentally friendly option. If you end up recycling or replanting your live tree, the carbon footprint becomes negligible or even negative, whereas manufacturing a plastic tree produces around 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, the plastic used for these trees is often difficult, if not impossible, to recycle when it comes to the end of its life. Opt for a live Christmas tree from these local tree farms instead — many of them have also committed to planting two trees for every single tree that they cut down. 

  • Shopping
  • Op shops

There's a reason why reduce and reuse come before recycling in that oft-repeated mantra. Op shops are a haven for pre-loved clothing and homewares, and if you're not super keen on giving the items as-is, you can make them into a crafting project. Turn secondhand clothing into a warm winter quilt, or give a table or dresser a second life with a fresh wood stain or coat of paint. We've rounded up the best op shops in Melbourne to help you on your DIY gift-making journey.

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Use cloth instead of single-use wrapping paper
Photograph: Creative Commons

Use cloth instead of single-use wrapping paper

Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese style of wrapping gifts using fabric, and it has been used for centuries. Growing up in a Japanese household, my mother used to pack my lunches and then, instead of the classic brown paper bag, would neatly tie a bandana around the Tupperware. If you have spare bandanas or scarves lying around, this is an incredibly elegant way to wrap a present to ensure it's still fun to unwrap but is also kind to our environment. You can check out a bunch of different methods of furoshiki here

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  • Shopping
  • Markets
  • Fitzroy

Instead of shopping from companies like Shein or Amazon, consider doing your shopping locally. We often talk about reducing our food miles when it comes to grocery shopping, and this logic applies to all of the shopping we do. A lot of makers at artisan markets craft their products using locally sourced goods, meaning that it required a far smaller carbon footprint to produce than a product made internationally and flown to Australia. Shop everything from art and beauty products to homewares and garments at local markets in Melbourne like the Rose Street Artists Market and the Bourne Local Artisan Market

  • Shopping
  • Delis

From organic to hormone-free, minimal to old school, there are many butchers in Melbourne looking to make the trade a whole lot more progressive and ethical. We've rounded up our favourite local butchers that are committed to avoiding intensive farming practices that are harmful to the environment. 

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Switch your Christmas lights out for energy-efficient LED lights
Photograph: Dzenina Lukac

Switch your Christmas lights out for energy-efficient LED lights

Did you know that LED lights use around 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent lights? They also last way longer, which means switching your Christmas light decorations over to ones that use LEDs will save you money on energy and replacements over time. And we know it's a bit of a pain, but during the daytime, you should definitely turn them off to save electricity. If that's too much of a hassle, you can buy smart switches that have a built-in shut off timer and then simply turn them on each night when the sun goes down. 

  • Shopping

This one might be a bit controversial, but it has to be said: the production of meat produces dangerous greenhouse gases and destroys large swaths of land, and reducing our meat consumption is a huge help to our environment. We're not saying that you can't have your traditional Christmas ham or juicy prawns, but perhaps consider having just one meaty main and then offering a variety of vegetable-based side dishes. We've rounded up some of the best grocery delivery services in Melbourne if you need a hand sorting out a produce delivery box for the holidays. 

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