Have a sustainable Christmas

17 December 2019

Christmas and New Year’s is a time for celebration, a time for giving and a time for family. But all the excess that goes with it has an environmental cost: tonnes of extra rubbish, unwanted gifts, food waste, and surplus packaging. 

With a little imagination and thought, you can reduce the impact of the festive season on the environment, and enjoy a more personal Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Here are four tips from UnitingCare’s Sustainability Team:

Reduce your carbon footprint by planning ahead for your Christmas and New Year travels. Opt to carpool and share your ride home with a friend or relative going in the same direction as you.


  • Love food, hate waste: Food waste skyrockets over the Christmas period, to around 25%! Plan your catering around the number of guests you’re expecting. Freeze any leftovers that you won’t eat in the next couple of days. Or have reusable containers on standby for guests to fill and take home.
  • Skip the disposables: Reusable plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins will reduce your waste footprint and look much classier. Op shops (Lifeline) are a great place to forage a cheap, quaintly mismatched dining set for a large guest list.
  • Foil aluminium waste: We use a lot more foil baking trays and alfoil at Christmas time. Did you know this can be recycled? Clean and scrunch the foil into a ball, then place it in your yellow-lid wheelie bin.


Avoid buying material presents, and consider what your loved ones will treasure for years to come. Here are some ideas:

  • Memories: event tickets, experience days, memberships.
  • Your time and skills: guitar or cooking lessons; vouchers for babysitting or home renovation labour.
  • Homemade gifts: baked treats, homebrewed alcohol, photo collage, personalised video, repurposed pallet furniture.
  • Donations: contribute to a cause that your loved one cares about.

Wrapping & Decorations

  • Did you know that glittery, velvet, plastic and tissue wrapping papers cannot be recycled? Do your bit in the war on waste by wrapping gifts in old newspaper, brown paper, comics, your kids’ artwork, or fabric items that become part of the gift (e.g. tea towels). These will look extra schmick when finished with twine, raffia or sprigs of greenery from your garden. Bonus points if you save wrapping paper and reuse it next year!
  • Lifeline Goody Bags are one-of-a-kind bags made from 100% donated items, with all profits going back to Lifeline’s crisis helpline. Stock up and use for Christmas stockings and gift wrapping: https://thegoodybag.com.au/
  • Choose eco-friendly decorations like seasonal flowers, bees-wax or soy candles, or LED lights which use little energy, rather than single use throwaway decorations.

Media Enquiries
General: wesley.media@uchealth.com.au
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