Wishing you a GREEN Christmas - how to make your Christmas more sustainable.

by Edwina Robinson 23 November 2016

It's lucky that Christmas only happens once a year as the holiday period is associated with extra spending, excess waste and stress.

On average, Australians spend more than $1000 extra during December-January. Hard earned cash is spent on gifts, vacations and Boxing Day sales.  And some people will be paying their credit cards off up to six months later.

Here are some suggestions for greening your Christmas, spending money wisely and reducing stress. 

Buying presents?

If you are buying presents – buy quality well-made products that won’t end in landfill in a year. Choose products with biodegradable or recyclable parts and from ethical suppliers.

Bamboo bike in vietnam

These bamboo bikes are produced in a social enterprise that helps women in remote villages in Vietnam and Cambodia. Image: Becky Smith

Canberra has a plethora of markets where you can buy locally made goods. Check out the Old Bus Depot Markets, Tuggeranong Homestead, Eco-elves Night Market, Made Christmas Markets or Show and Tell Design Market.

od bus depot market

The Old Bus Depot Markets are held each Sunday and offer a range of locally made products. Image: Wikimedia.

Grow or buy someone a living gift, like a fruit tree, a mixed pot of herbs or heirloom (non-hybrid) seeds or a worm farm. Unless you’ve discussed it with the person beforehand – pets are probably not the best present if it’s a complete surprise. But if you are buying a pet - buy from the RSPCA rather than a pet store.

World Vision and Care Australia have a range of social gifts – you can donate pencils, books, livestock including alpacas, chickens and goats to families in developing countries.  One hundred dollars will buy a bicycle and get a girl to school safely.

Wrapping paper is used only once then at best recycled. Get creative, wrap presents in hand-made recycled paper, scarves or fabric.

Give an experience

Buy someone an experience rather than an object – there are lots of things to see and do in our region – zoo, kayak and hot air balloon experiences. Or tickets to sport, movie or theatre events.

hot air balloon

Hot air balloon ride over the Arboretum. Image: Wikimedia

Create your own special experience with someone – a picnic by one of Canberra’s lakes with lovely food and your company or complete a project together.

I’ve suggested to my adult son that we build an insect hotel for our garden. And he thinks it's a good idea.


Picnic in a park with close friends. Image: Wikimedia

In the US, bird watchers can participate in a Christmas Day bird observation count.  Canberra Nature Map always welcomes photos of native plants and animal treasures from the region.

Book someone you love into a course you know they will enjoy whether it’s car maintenance or life drawing.

The tree 

Consider growing a pine or a fine leaved shrub in a pot or buy a cut tree. Pine trees in a bucket of water will scent the house for at least a week. Artificial trees will eventually end in landfill and are best avoided. 

Take the tree to your local green waste for recycling or let it break down in your garden (it will take a while).

Image: Pixabay

Choose well-made Christmas decorations, preferably from biodegradable products or make your own. Remember making paper chains and Christmas lanterns at school?

Christmas fare  

Aim to buy local seasonally available food (and mostly vegetables and fruit) – your local farmer’s market is a good place to start and also a source for gifts like local olive oil, pickles, jams, bespoke biscuits and hand-made chocolates.  

If you are big on Christmas roast order it from the farmer a few weeks ahead.

Boxing Day sales

Do you really need to queue with all those people for the Boxing Day Sales?

Boxing day sales

Boxing Day sale, Myer Melbourne. Image: Flickr (avlxyz)

It might be more satisfying to go for a walk with the dog or watch the cricket ... sales occur year-round, including on-line sales. 

Holiday escapes

It’s nice to escape from Canberra  – be aware of the purchasing decisions you make when you are away.  Don’t just buy something for the sake of it. If you are buying something for the kids, like a boogie board, buy a quality one, that won’t snap after a couple of dumpers.

Congo beach

Congo Beach, south coast of NSW. Image: Mark Jekabsons

Stay safe and think carefully before you spend your hard earned wages.

living sustainably

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