'Tis the season to go green

How to save money and reduce waste this Christmas.

It’s easy to overindulge at Christmas but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

An RACQ survey found Queenslanders spend an average of $1303 over the festive season and 49% of people consider costs to be a burden. 

Follow these tips to save money and reduce your impact on the environment this festive season.

Ditch the wrapping paper

Australians will use more than 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper this Christmas – enough to wrap around the Earth’s equator almost four times, research from CARE Australia has found.

Stick to wrapping that can be reused, such as gift bags, or make the wrapping part of the present by using tea towels, cloth napkins or thrifted silk scarves. There are plenty of tutorials online to help you use fabric to wrap like a pro.

Brown paper or newspaper bound with twine and finished with thrifted brooches or fresh flowers from the garden make unique wrapping options.


Go natural

While investing in a reusable plastic Christmas tree may seem like the eco-friendly approach, forestry science experts say real Christmas trees are better for the environment. 

In Australia Christmas trees are farmed specifically on dedicated land and those cut down are replaced by new seedlings each year.

The growing trees help filter the air, provide habitats for insects and birds and have a smaller carbon footprint than plastic trees manufactured overseas.

Real trees are also 100% recyclable and biodegradable and can be used as compost after the Christmas season.


The food

In Australia more than five tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year and food waste increases by 30% at Christmas time.

Save money and prevent food waste by planning ahead, creating a shopping list, only buying the amount you need and utilising leftovers in the days after Christmas.

If you’re hosting lunch, encourage guests to bring a container to take home leftover food.

Scraps and spoiled food can be composted, turning back into nutrient rich soil.

Australian Christmas dessert

Deck the halls sustainably

We all have that box of decorations up in the cupboard that only gets used once a year.

Instead of buying new decorations, consider making your own decorations from things around the house.

  • Repurpose cardboard and paper into garlands, origami stars or hanging lanterns.
  • Knit or crochet Christmas baubles using leftover wool or thread. Join Ravelry for free Christmas patterns.
  • DIY bonbons using toilet rolls, tissue paper and your best dad jokes – you can even buy ‘cracker snaps’ from craft stores.


Low waste gifts

It can be hard enough to stick to a gift budget at Christmas, let alone give low waste gifts.

25% of Queenslanders surveyed prefer not to receive gifts at Christmas and those who like to receive gift prefer less than $50 spent on them.

‘Experience’ gifts, such as concert tickets, restaurant vouchers, digital subscriptions or guitar lessons, are a great way to give low waste gifts and stick to your budget.

If you are gifting to young kids consider picking up timeless toys, such as Barbie or Lego, from your local thrift shop or swap sites including Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

Gift tickets


As the saying goes, ‘the gift is in the giving’ so once you’ve received a gift, you don’t have to keep it. 

Consider regifting unwanted gifts, donating them to charity or, selling on eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.


The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs.