Easy ways to eliminate waste this festive season

It’s a terrible misnomer, but the festive season – which is all about cheer and goodwill to all in various religions – is one of the most wasteful of the year. There are piles of present wrappings, tons of unwanted toys and lots of leftovers – but it doesn’t have to be that way. To enjoy less wasteful and more charitable festivities this year, just follow these tips:

Wrapping waste
Recycle all your wrapping paper or take it down to the local dump and try and encourage family and friends to reuse wrapping from last year. You can also look to wrapping gifts… in other gifts. T-shirts, scarves, towels and bags can all be used as innovative wrappings with rafia or ribbons; no plastics, tapes or wasteful paper needed. Remember, there’s no shame in eliminating waste!

Leftover lunch (and dinner… and snacks!)
Three words – cook, compassion or compost. There are plenty of websites for how to use leftovers the next day and beyond, from gammon sandwiches and gourmet lamb burgers to reused mince pies and end-of-the-month salticrax snacks. Alternatively, as is the Boxing Day custom, a more compassionate and charitable option is look online for a local charity collecting and giving away food. You could even ask on your local Facebook community pages and join a drive to spread festive cheer to those less-fortunate. Try searching on www.giveback.co.za or www.forgood.co.za if you’re really stuck. Finally… compost, but this only applies to vegetable leftovers. Meat scraps that are headed for the bin are probably best wrapped in foil, frozen and then donated to your local animal shelter.

Unwanted gifts
A powerful and useful practice to try as a family could be to spend a portion of your Christmas Day giving out unwanted gifts (like those from your office party…), combined with something more immediately sustaining like leftover food, to the homeless (yes this was covered earlier, but it’s Christmas – who’s counting?). Encourage the family to be honest about what isn’t their taste – it could really make someone else’s day and be a great bonding experience for you and your kin.

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