Guest Post: Waste-Less This ‘Silly’ Season

Guest post from previous Operations Manager Amy Stace-Smith, on extended maternity leave.

Gould League Inspires a Green Christmas

Working at Gould League as a sessional educator as a young University student, and returning some years later to run the organisation, I couldn’t help but be inspired to ‘walk the talk’ of all the positive environmental behaviours our programs promote. Now, being the mum of a busy toddler coupled with the pending festive season my ‘waste-less -spidey-senses’ are tingly full-tilt!

Here are some strategies I’ve found helpful in staying true to my values during an indulgent time of year, while still enjoying the warm-fuzzy feeling of gift giving, sharing delicious meals with loved ones and celebrating!

STRATEGY 1: Simplify Gift Giving
When our daughter was born, we decided to commence a Christmas (and Birthday) gift-giving tradition for her. Instead of buying a myriad of gifts we opt to keep it simple and plan just 4 gifts: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read”. For a baby a ‘want’ will be something to play with…. and in fact, her ‘need’ present of an infant toothbrush for Christmas last year was actually her favourite plaything that summer! The benefit of this minimalism is three fold: for the environment, our wallets and her childhood.

“Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their world.”
– Dr K J Payne, Simplicity Parenting

STRATEGY 2: Say No to Junk Mail
You get to know your neighbours and local streets very well with a little one in the pram or baby carrier… and I’ve noticed that only 1 in every 15 houses in my neighbourhood has a ‘no Junk Mail’ sticker! Many of our neighbours report not even taking said mail into their homes, but putting it straight into the bin. Recycling or not, if you are not reading them then ask Santa to bring you a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign for your letterbox. Better yet, go out and buy yourself one today (or make your own) to beat the onslaught of December advertising! If you really want the advertising, then sign up to get it delivered in your e-mail inbox instead.

Hot tip: While you’re at it, cancel your Yellow and Whitepage annual phonebook delivery too at Directory Select, part of Sensis’ Environmental commitment.

STRATEGY 3: Rethink your Wrapping
Consider rethinking the way you wrap gifts (&/or the way you unwrap them!). My love of delicately opening presents, trying not to tear the paper and carefully folding the paper for re-use after is a pet-peeve of my husband’s, who adores ripping presents open with glee, scrunching up the paper and taking a ‘shot’ into the nearest receptacle! But, what if I told you that you can enjoy a quick tear open of a present Christmas morning and still reuse that paper? Here’s what I do when I can’t salvage a piece big enough to re-wrap a gift: buy a roll of brown paper to wrap gifts in, use pieces (& scraps) of past years’ Christmas paper and just create a little ‘accent’ with these – a shape, a folded strip, etc. So, any tears, creases, left over sticky-tape can be cut off or folded out of sight. I will often tie it up with a piece of ribbon or twine that can also be reused (no cheeky knots please!)

Hot tip: Reuse the brown paper for painting, drawing, packing, or re-wrapping. If you use a paper washi-style tape instead of plastic sticky tape, aside from looking ‘super-styling’ it can be recycled too and often doesn’t rip the paper when removed!

STRATEGY 4: Find Wrapping Alternatives
Another option is to consider a re-usable box, gift bag or cute printed canvas tote instead of wrapping paper. My amazing Mother in Law, knowing my love of all things reusable and having to go through customs from Canada with half a suit-case full of gifts for her grand-daughter, actually sewed sweet little gift bags from Christmas fabric which we have enjoyed reusing for a variety of purposes including wrapping gifts for others, but also storing puzzle pieces, busy toddler games and even using them for imaginative play as baby doll sleeping bags.

STRATEGY 5: Shop Mindfully for Produce
Shopping for your festive lunch or dinner. Remember our shopping tips from back in the day, and be MINDFUL of your packaging options when shopping (why not take your own mesh fruit and veg bags and avoid those bulk packs of fruit and veg in a plastic container wrapped in plastic – yuk!), write a list after checking what you already have at home, don’t forget your green bags and don’t be sucked into buying multiples of things you don’t actually need. You could check out your local farmers market for some quality local produce with less packaging and supermarket queues! Victorians, here’s a link to find the dates for your local farmers market.

Re-Play: check out an article I wrote a while ago now ‘7 Resolutions for Living Green in 2015’ that is still relevant for hot tips and gives more detail about mesh produce bags.

STRATEGY 6: Give Green Gifts
Consider giving gifts that help a loved one go green this new year! I just bought a gorgeous box of cute patterned hankies for a friend, a set of mesh fruit/veg bags and a gorgeous patterned canvas tote for another (bonus they are light to send overseas!), a bench-top compost container for my sister (shhh…. hope she doesn’t read this!), screen printed cloth table napkins for a friend, and an awesome ‘nude food’ bento-style lunchbox for my niece. Memberships to local cultural institutions, galleries, nature parks and/or tickets to outdoor events, movies and concerts are all on my wish-list for loved ones this year.

Hopefully one or more of these have struck a chord with you. We are not perfectly green in our household, but we celebrate the things we do DO and take baby steps (no pun intended) to make greener choices whenever we can. Next step is part two of toilet training our disposable diapered daughter (because ‘Mummy’ failed in the cloth nappy/laundry department) – warm weather will see lots of ‘rudie-nudie’ time in our house this ‘silly’ season! Hope you can enjoy the same!

Best fishes,

Amy and Co.

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