Tips to a low waste Christmas


Did you know that much of the wrapping paper we buy for our Christmas gifts is not recyclable? If it is shiny, or looks like foil or cellophane it cannot be recycled in your yellow-lid bin. These types of wrapping contain plastics, and need to be re-used or disposed of in your red-lid general waste bin.

Why not make the wrapping part of the gift as well? The Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living demonstrates three furoshiki wrapping styles in the following videos. The first video is the full version and goes through each of the 3 different wrapping types. If you are short on time there are shorter versions for each wrapping type. Furoshiki wrapping is a low waste alternative, and avoids using wrapping paper altogether.

Furoshiki Wrapping

Furoshiki Wine Bottle

Furoshiki Bag Style

Furoshiki Box Wrapping


When purchasing gifts for friends and family, really think about what that person may enjoy - there may be a low waste option that you had not thought of before. Here's a few tips to get you started:

  • Don't start your new year with a heap of gifts you don't need, organise with your loved ones to do Secret Santa this year. Set a spend limit and each person gets one gift each that they will really enjoy.
  • Need a gift for someone that has everything? Why not donate to a charity that supports a cause that is important to them on their behalf. This supports something important without creating extra clutter.
  • Buy something useful - consider gifts that can help people switch from single use items, like a cutlery kit for work, or a book on waste wise living. Help your friends and family make a positive change.
  • Nothing beats a gift made with love! Try a homemade gift, such as body scrubs, relishes, candles, jams and biscuits.

Christmas Lunch or Dinner

Christmas is a time of celebration with family and friends, and we all know it involves lots of food and feasting over this festive time. Reduce your impact with these tips for Christmas lunch and dinner:

  • Christmas is a time of massive food waste. Plan your meals carefully so you don’t over shop or over prepare. Make sure you have enough room in your fridge and freezer to store any excess food and leftovers safely and plan your next few meals around your leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste provides plenty of hints and tips.
  • Avoid disposable/plastic plates and cutlery. If you need more crockery or cutlery than you own, borrow from friends and family.
  • Skip paper serviettes – they are not recyclable, especially when soiled with food. Instead bring back fabric serviettes, which can be washed and reused year after year. If the Christmas ones are a bit pricey, look for plain ones in Christmas colours instead (or keep an eye out for sales after Christmas and stock up for next year).
  • Buy local and unpackaged as much as possible – e.g. loose fruit and veg, and tray-less meat from a butcher. Buying local supports local businesses, reduces transport (food miles) and packaging.
  • When buying packaged items, look for products with the Australasian Recycling Label so you know how to dispose of the packaging properly.