Christmas can be a season of sustainability

As a mum of two young girls, Christmas is an extremely busy time of year.

There are family events to organise, gifts to prepare and work commitments that often continue up until Christmas day.

With all of this, I rarely have time to give much thought to the appropriateness, cost and environmental impact of presents.

But hosting a sustainable Christmas can solve all of these issues.    

When buying gifts, firstly think about the packaging materials. Many types of wrapping such as cellophane are hard to recycle.

Opt for paper instead – which is easy to recycle.

Reusable alternatives made from organic materials such as colourful cotton bandanas can even provide an extra gift.

This option is environmentally-friendly, and also helps save the costs of wasted wrapping paper.  

As for the sustainable gift itself, you could buy your loved ones an inspiring book with tips about how to protect the climate, or experiences such as a restaurant meal or movie tickets, rather than more and more “things” to clutter up their homes.  

Last year I told my sister I didn’t like giving my nieces presents that will be thrown out, especially plastic ones that don’t break down or recycle easily.

I told her I would rather just give money. So this is what we now do.

She spent last year’s Christmas money on a little worm farm garden, which is also teaching her girls how to care for plants.

While plastic makes a lot of the headlines, it’s how sustainability relates to climate that is my big concern, as a mother of young kids growing up in a warming world.

Buying from local suppliers can help, as lower food miles use less fossil fuels in transportation. Increasing the proportion of plant-based Christmas foods helps, as does sourcing low-carbon, sustainably-farmed meat.

But perhaps the most important present you can give your kids this year is a simple one, that costs nothing. It’s a conversation about climate action.

Letting family and friends know we are passionate about effective climate action helps people realise how threatened the future really is for our kids – and how we all need to band together to support change to a low-carbon economy.

So, Happy Christmas. Let’s make it a sustainable one this year, next year and the many Christmases after that.  

Heidi Edmonds is an environmental engineer and founder of Australian Mums for a Safe Climate.