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How to have a greener, more sustainable Christmas this year

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It's scary to think that we can produce up to 30% more waste over the festive season. This year, however, Finder research has revealed that more than half (51%) of Australians have plans to have a more sustainable Christmas.

Christmas is a time for indulgence, but this often leads to excess waste. Between wrapping paper, food packaging, single-use decorations and maybe even the odd unwanted gift, it's easy to feel guilty about how much ends up in the rubbish.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a Grinch to go green at Christmas. Unsure where to start? Below are some simple ways to reduce your environmental impact this festive season.

how to have a sustainable christmas

1. Avoid disposable dinnerware

Finder research shows that a quarter (24%) of Aussies plan to ditch the disposable dinnerware this year, and honestly, it's easier to do than you think. Encourage family members to use kitchenware from home rather than single-use containers when bringing food for lunch. This will go a long way in reducing the day's waste (and hopefully the amount of abandoned leftovers in your fridge at the end of the day).

If you think you'll be a little short on plates or cutlery, assign one or two other family members to provide cutlery as their contribution for the day. This can be a great option for your loved ones who aren't so handy in the kitchen!

Of course, sometimes disposables are unavoidable, so if you do need to go disposable, look for an eco-friendly or biodegradable option.

2. Choose recyclable wrapping paper

Ripping apart wrapping paper has to be one of the most exciting parts of Christmas. But how does all that gift wrap impact the environment?

Provided that it's recycled, wrapping paper can have a relatively low impact. But the key is to keep your choice of gift wrap as close to actual paper as possible. Try to avoid papers that are super glittery or glossy, as these can be more difficult to break down.

Consider getting the kids involved by jazzing up some plain brown wrapping paper with paint or pencils for a bit of extra flare. Alternatively, buy some ribbon to tie a nice bow around your brown paper present and then be sure to collect it after the great unwrapping to use for next year. And if you want to go a step further, you can join the quarter (24%) of Aussies who will be opting for recycled wrapping paper or gift bags.

3. Opt for solar Christmas lights

Christmas lights always help to ignite that festive feeling, and luckily for your outdoor display, you won't need to sacrifice sparkles for sustainability.

Solar-powered Christmas lights are good for the environment as well as your wallet. You can leave them to charge all day in the sun, and come night time, your display will be ready to shine.

4. Try a vegan or vegetarian menu

This one might not be for everybody, but if you're looking for a slightly less traditional meal, I'd highly recommend giving this a go. Plant-based options are now readily available in Australian supermarkets, so if you're worried about being stumped for choice - don't be!

Popular meat substitutes include plant-based burger patties, sausages and mince, along with vegan cheeses, so you can still enjoy a festive feast.

Not only will you get to be a little creative and try some new foods, but plant-based diets are typically better for the environment, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions, lower water usage and less land used.

5. Opt for a Secret Santa with the family

This is another one that's good for the planet and your back pocket. A Secret Santa means you're essentially only shopping for one person, rather than buying gifts for the whole family. This means less gift wrap, less money and less unwanted presents that end up in the back of the wardrobe, or worse, the bin.

If you have a few extra special people you'd like to give presents to, consider an eco-friendly option such as a reusable coffee cup or some sustainable beauty products. You could also give the gift of an experience, which has the benefit of not only being waste-free, but also super memorable.

The hardest part about sustainability is knowing where to start. It can seem overwhelming making so many adjustments, particularly in a time that's so rich with tradition. That's why it's important to remember that you don't have to make all of these changes at once. Start by choosing just one or two of these options and you'll have taken a step in the right direction.

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Ben King is Finder's CSR & public affairs manager. He is focused on increasing the positive social and environmental impact of Finder and working with policy makers on regulation that puts the consumer first. He holds a Bachelors in Business Management from the University of Nottingham.
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