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Five easy steps for an ethical Christmas

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By Jaclyn McCosker, eco blogger

Christmas is a time for giving – right? But it’s also a time for tossing out all those unwanted things people have given to you.

Christmas is a time anticipated year-round, excitement brimming over expectation of gifts under the tree. Yet for conscious consumers, the trash hangover caused by such reckless consumption is something to dread.

Excess food waste. Soon forgotten gifts. Plastic decorations and gift wrapping. Millions of tons of trash are produced annually in the name of Christmas, with ASIC reporting that the average Australian credit card debt after the holiday season is $1666.

With these considerations, you’d be forgiven for wanting to forego the whole tradition altogether. Fortunately, you don’t have to become the Grinch to both reduce your waste and save some cash this holiday season.

Jaclyn McCosker

Here are five simple changes to ditch consumerism and rediscover the true spirit of Christmas.

1. Make exact food portions

The easiest way to avoid the scourge of food waste is to buy less. Know your guest list, and be realistic about how much food they can eat. We can buy less, choose local produce, stick to one type of meat, and only serve correct portions throughout the day to avoid food spoiling. To offset food waste, consider donating your leftover unopened food.

2. Avoid single-use gift wrapping

Before reaching for new wrapping paper in the department store, consider reusing old paper or repurposing something else from around the home. Whether it’s using glass jars, tote bags, tea towels, brown paper bags or newspaper. You can even use flowers or leaves from your backyard for extra decoration.

3. Reconsider plastic decorations

While we love to deck our halls every year, the sheer volume of low-quality plastic decorations we purchase and throw out every year is not so jolly. When it comes to decorations, less is more. You can make your own using paper or wood, or alternatives include investing in high-quality decorations such as ceramic or glass Christmas tree ornaments, and Oxfam’s range of Fairtrade decorations.

4. Give the gift of quality time

Consider giving the gift of quality time. Instead of purchasing something unwanted or unneeded, why not plan a dinner, a music concert of a weekend away? Not only does it avoid waste, it shows a level of thoughtfulness and care a pair of socks just can’t.

I'm currently putting together my Christmas gift list for vegans, minimalists, zero wasters and humanitarians of all descriptions. 〰 On that list will obviously be Oxfam Unwrapped because they have the best alternative to physical gifts. (My mum would know, she's received a few of these from me over the years.) And I'm so happy that they offer these vegan-friendly options because this year I've got the gifts of clean drinking water, a vegetable garden and a bed in a PNG women's refuge to give in the form of a gift card. What the card buys you is described on the back, and inside is a snapshot of how that benefits the community. 〰 I use these to avoid giving people subpar gifts when they haven't told you exactly they want. If you're wondering, gifts that give back will always go down well with me. 〰 The best part is they're priced from $10-$135 depending on what service you want to provide sooooo with Christmas approaching why not consider buying a community the gift of safe drinking water at This is the real spirit of Christmas imo.💧🌿 Collab with @oxfamaustralia

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5. Shop for a cause

If Christmas truly is the time for giving, what better time is there to support your loved ones’ favourite causes! Whether it’s a donation in their name or purchasing products from social enterprises, gifts that give back are a great way to avoid waste and spread joy beyond your own living room. Oxfam Unwrapped are great gifts for beating the war on waste. Not only do you avoid excessive consumption and waste materials, but you get to give someone the gift of transforming the lives of those living in poverty.

This December, you have the choice to skip the obligation of meaningless gifts and have yourself a Merry Waste-Free Christmas!

Shop Oxfam Unwrapped