Written by Sarah Blake, Founder of Earthology – helping companies and individuals on their sustainability journey, one step at a time!
The Festive season this year will be a little different in terms of how we can celebrate it but the amount of waste it generates certainly won’t! So, let’s think of approaching this special time a little differently, and consider how we can support friends and family rather than buying them stuff they don’t need. Looking at Christmas through a sustainability lens means applying the 5 R’s of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, to everything you do, from presents to parties (even if they are zoom events) to fun and food.
It is estimated that the festive season generates an extra 25-30% more waste than normal on unwanted presents, food, decorations and entertaining. In Ireland, despite the surge in environmental awareness, we will generate almost 90,000 tonnes of extra packaging waste over the few days of the short holiday break. To put that into perspective, the Eiffel Tower only weighs 10,100 tonnes!
Starting with gifts, think of refusing them. Yep you heard that right, but seriously does Uncle John need that pair of novelty socks or would he prefer you to call more often? Most people would prefer the gift of time and more specifically, your time. Children (and adults!) will remember that trip to an amusement park, museum or the sunset on a beach more than the piece of plastic that they thought they so, so wanted. Personally, I’d love someone to come and repot my house plants or bake me a homemade cake (I’m a sucker for a homemade mince pie!)
When it comes to decorations, think about reducing them rather than increasing them! All those lovely pictures of Scandinavian minimalism are made up of a few beautiful ornaments and natural elements. Think wood, pine cones and handcrafted decorations. Adding your own personal touches of family treasures that have been handed down and things the kids have made. If you need a change, why not drop into your local charity shop? They have plenty of secondhand goodies to add festive cheer to your display.
Reuse & Recycle
So let’s talk turkey! When it comes to food, think about reusing and recycling, not words you would normally associate with the dinner table! However, over the festive season, your freezer becomes your bank, it saves you from throwing a lot of money in the bin. Consider freezing turkey and gravy portions for a quick mid-week supper, mince pies that can be reheated in the oven and grated cheese that can be added to a cheesy sauce, even cake can be frozen and thawed at room temperature. If you don’t have access to a large freezer, give away what you can to friends or relatives, they might return the favour or donate on the Olio App.
The fifth R, rot, is one of the most important to consider, especially when entertaining. Christmas 2020 will be something we remember, so let’s make it memorable for the right reasons. If you can’t keep or donate your leftover food, then make sure it goes into the brown or compost bin to rot down. Food waste that ends in landfill produces methane gas which is 25 times more potent than Co2 and according to Project Drawdown, is one of the top things we can do about climate change.
Finally, this time of year is special for lots of reasons and it gives us a chance to slow down and appreciate what we have and what a year we have come through. So we have created our own 5 S’s for a more sustainable festive season:
Simplify – No excess, no stress!
Slow down – Appreciate the change of seasons, brighter days are to come
Savour – Enjoy time spent with people you love
Support – Reach out to friends, relatives and volunteer if you can
Stay present – Think about being rather than giving
Written by Sarah Blake, Found of Earthology
Earthology’s mission is to help your business and its people, step by step, on its sustainability journey. We will inspire, motivate and engage your workforce to drive change across your business.
First, we organise talks to activate change and get everyone on board. Next, we deliver workshops to your green team to take the discussion further and to clarify direction. Finally, we develop long term strategies to create success for your business. We work with a team of associates who help us deliver in specific areas of expertise. To learn more visit the Earthology website for more info.