Every year the Collins Dictionary issues a word of the year #collinsWOTY and both sadly and amazingly this year’s word is “Single-use’. I say sadly, as we’ve gotten ourselves into a bit of a pickle with single-use items that are used once, thrown away, often plastic and something we’ve become very dependent on. But I also say amazingly, because it’s actually fantastic that there is so much discussion and awareness globally around the problem — that’s what leads to solutions and behaviour change.
As we head into the silly season, it’s prime time for single-use items what with all the parties happening — straws, plastic plates, packaging etc. My children have opted not to take straws these days — their motto is “saving the world — one straw at a time’. And that’s how we all have to think, while we wait for the inventors, designers, creatives and change-makers to come up with better solutions to these problems and we see widespread systemic change. I was out for lunch the other day, ordered a milkshake and received it with a metal straw — it was different, but it was great! Some of those inventors, designers and creatives are already flying! More of this I say.
The festive season is also the time when a crazy number of completely unwanted presents make the rounds of the office Secret Santas and various family Christmas gatherings. It happens, because it can be really hard to find a perfect gift for some people and sometimes even with the best of intentions, people just make bad calls. According to a study done by Gumtree “many of the gifts given at Secret Santa/Kris Kringle end up in the bin, with five per cent throwing away their gift within a week of receipt, others will be binned if they are not good enough to re-gift (12 per cent) and some say they hang onto the gifts for a bit but then put them in the bin (13 per cent).” But please don’t just throw that gift away adding to landfill, hold onto it and in the New Year WBGS are hoping to trial a way for you to ‘donate your unwanted gifts’ — January will be prime-time.
So thinking along these lines how we can we all try for a more sustainable festive season? Here are some ideas from the WBGS team:
- Wrapping paper — re-use gift bags, make your own cards from left-over cardboard and try using newspaper and artwork that the kids have done for wrapping;
- Bon-bons — try making your own (I know I hear you saying — who’s got the time), but some of the WBGS team will be making bon bons from toilet rolls people (yes you heard right) and they won’t be filling them with single-use plastic toys (but there will be some really, super bad jokes in them!). Check out these eco-friendly bon-bons.
- Plates/Cutlery — avoid plastic plates, straws (if you must have straws you can get paper at the big supermarkets now), cups and cutlery and ask family and friends to bring extra if the gathering is getting big. Most people are happy to muck in and wash up on Christmas Day (I’ve had some of my best chats with family and friends over the kitchen sink!)
- Pre-loved/recycled gifts — embrace the circular economy this year and buy something pre-loved, recycled or upcycled — some of you may already have bargains from WBGS18 and also check-out Plant Ark’s Recycled Products Directory
- Make a Donation — this year the adults of our family aren’t giving each other gifts and instead we’re donating to that family member’s charity of choice — most of us really do have enough and Christmas is a time for sharing.
- Recycle — people go through a huge number of plastic/glass/metal drink containers over Christmas with Christmas drinks and eggnog — now that we have Containers for Change in QLD you can easily do the right thing! And don’t forget your normal council recycling bins!
- Food, Waste not Want not — I am still personally a work-in-progress getting ensuring I don’t waste food, but really it’s all about planning. And remember people it’s not the end of the world if you run out of something — just think of that other waist! haha
Here’s hoping yours is a joyous, peaceful and sustainable Christmas, wherever you are. Thank you to all our partners, volunteers and the wider Bris Vegas community for making 2018 such a wonderful year. WBGS are looking forward to a cracking 2019!