By Clare Sullivan, Plastic Free Byron Coordinator
It hardly seems possible that we’re thinking about Christmas already! In a year where many of us were made to lead a slower existence, it has perhaps become a chance to move forward in a clearer and more conscious way.
As we quickly approach the festive season, let's choose to do it differently this year. They say ‘tis the season to be jolly’ (and let’s face it, we all deserve some jolliness right now) -but what if it could also be the season to reduce our plastic dependence?
One easy way to start is in your giving of gifts. There are many options that make beautiful presents while also encouraging good habits in your work colleagues, friends and family.
If you’re stumped for ideas, let us help. Here are our top 10 plastic-free alternatives to put under the Christmas tree and get your whole family ready for a more sustainable 2021.
Plastic-Free Gift Ideas
1. Reusable produce bags made from string or mesh - these can be found in many local green grocers, bulk stores and online by searching “reusable produce bags.”
2. Non-plastic picnic cutlery or even whole picnic sets - Op-shops often have great vintage sets, reusable, sturdy varieties can also be found in camping and outdoor stores.
3. BYO coffee cups - check out your local coffee shops or ask your barista, chances are there’ll be some lovely artisan cups available for sale.
4. Reusable shopping bags - repurpose old material into handmade tote bags (pick up material at op shops) or purchase a fold-up bag (these handily fit into any handbag).
5. Reusable containers for food storage - find them at many online stores and local eco stores.
6. For the kitchen - bamboo cleaning instruments and beeswax wraps - local bulk stores often stock these.
7. Shampoo & Conditioner bars - these are quickly becoming mainstream and are available from health food stores, eco stores, some supermarkets and pharmacies, farmers markets, grocers or online.
8. Natural zincs and reef safe sun creams - there are so many of these available and they come packaged in aluminum tins that can go on to be repurposed for things like homemade deodorant or storing jewelry.
9. Self-care items like metal reusable razors, bamboo tooth and hairbrushes - all available at independent grocers, eco-stores and likely more mainstream stores as well.
10. Gift vouchers to local bulk and organic food stores - supporting your local businesses.
For more ideas search online for 'plastic free gifts' or use words to that effect.
When wrapping gifts, forget paper, plastic ribbons and sticky tape – it’s all about Furoshiki. Originating from Japan, the age-old technique of wrapping gifts in fabric has made a significant resurgence.
Highly versatile, colourful fabric like scarfs can be found at op shops, while cutting up old sheets offers the opportunity to decorate and embellish with dyes and fabric paint or pens. Affordable and eco-friendly, there are hundreds of tutorials clips with knot techniques on YouTube. And let’s be honest, all the cools kids are doing it.
Going One Step Further
Whilst all these items promote plastic-free living, they still fall under the category of consumerism and raise the question of whether it’s possible to ethically give - does anyone really need more stuff?
We love Molly Farai’s conscious Christmas hierarchy to help guide you along the way. Perhaps a donation or an experience is your best option? Massages, dinner vouchers, kayaking tours (to name a few) are all meaningful ways to give without the added waste.