15 Dec 2022

Guide to a sustainable festive season

Stylish christmas gifts wrapped in linen fabric and decorated with natural green branches on white rustic table background, flat lay. Zero waste christmas holidays.

Australians know how to throw show-stopping holiday parties, but these extravagant get togethers can come at a cost larger than money itself. Studies show that during the holiday season waste increases by 30%, with the main offenders being food waste, packing and wrapping paper. 

Despite this, many Australians can be heard loud and clear that sustainability is at the forefront of their shopping decisions. More than ever, Australians are considering the ethics of brands and their supply chains, the roadmaps that their favourite stores have in place towards decarbonisation, and how retailers are acting for our planet today. Companies are seeing the return of investment “ROI” of sustainability measures too with greater customer loyalty, employee retention, consistent growth rates and profitability.  

We know at TEM that small changes create big impact, and that’s why this year we’re sharing with you our guide to a sustainable festive season! 

Climate change is one of the top issues people list as their biggest social or environmental concern. Consumers are crying out for more sustainable purchasing options that don’t leave a negative impact on the planet, and they’re willing to pay for them. TEM works to support big brands in achieving #NetZeroNow through emissions reductions and carbon offsetting and it’s exciting to share this collection of sustainable festive season ideas, including unabashed plugs for some of our clients!”  Elise Margaritis, Creative Director.

Walking around huge stores evokes a temptation to purchase everything from the latest holiday collection. Even just strolling down the aisle, with Bing Crosby crooning through the speakers generates that warm nostalgic feeling of the holiday spirit, but this year we’re saying “No and stepping away from those pesky plastic decorations. If you’re like us, then here are some easy ways to go green this year:  

  • Nature-based decorations such as dried natural wreaths, pinecone centerpieces, and bamboo ornaments complement a living tree at your Christmas festivities. Even better – make a day out of it and create some DIY decorations at home like dehydrated orange and lemon slices.
  • If you’re in search of a Christmas tree, consider getting a live one from a sustainable Christmas tree farm. Most artificial trees have travelled from overseas, already creating a large carbon footprint and are made from unsustainable materials. An artificial tree will have to be re-used over a dozen times for it to match the footprint of a real tree that is composted after use.  Even better, keep a potted tree at home year-round to bring inside to decorate, watching it grow each year.  
  • Consider LED lights that will not only reduce your emissions but will cut your electricity bill too! 

Maybe even more than celebrating, Australian’s love to shower their loved ones with gifts during the holidays. So much so that Australians reportedly spend an estimated $400 million in “unwanted” gifts annually. Interestingly, 23% of Australians polled in a survey commissioned by ING reported they would prefer to receive “socially conscious or eco-friendly” presents, and more than half said they’ll be gifting sustainably. So, how can we make sure that we shop responsibly?  

  • Peruse your local op shop for pre-loved items to make a sustainable new gift.
  • Look out for brands that have B-Corp or Climate Active certifications.  

B-Corp certification is an internationally recognised certification that requires companies to meet a verified standard of social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal commitments. Climate Active is an Australian government-backed initiative whereby the certification reflects the role that government, business and community have to play in measuring, reducing and offsetting their carbon emissions.   

T2 Tea: Founded in Fitzroy, Melbourne, T2 Tea is a great gift for any tea enthusiast. They have been carbon neutral since 2019 through Qantas Future Planet and TEM, and B-Corp certified since 2020. Shop T2 Tea’s gift range here. 

FTA Coffee: Coffee lovers rejoice – Climate Active certified brand FTA Coffee are committed to going carbon neutral. Get your caffeine kick while nurturing the planet here. 

Experiences: Gifts don’t always need to be wrapped up in a box with a bow. If you’re looking for a unique gift that they’ll remember for life – look towards experiences like a day at the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs Bath House for the one who needs a relaxing afternoon, or perhaps abseiling over the Blue Mountains for the adrenaline junkie in your life. 

For more gift inspiration, check out The Guardian’s 2022 local, sustainable and ethical gift guide. 

  • Re-use wrapping paper or newspaper. Children’s artwork also makes for a special, unique gift wrap. Tea towels or scarves turn wrapping into their own gift – furoshiki style. 

Need to send a parcel to someone you won’t be with these holidays? No worries, Australia Post has got you covered with their handy tips on how to reuse a satchel to reduce your waste. Even better, all of Australia Posts parcels are carbon neutral thanks to their partnership with Qantas Future Planet and TEM.  

Food and beverages  

Whether it’s over catering, last-minute changes in numbers, or you can’t resist those Christmas Eve bargains, food waste in Australia, particularly in December, is a huge problem. Each year, Australians “waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food, the equivalent of around one in five bags of groceries, or 3% of our annual greenhouse gas emissions.   

  • Buy seasonable products from local shops and markets. By choosing locally produced seasonable products, you’re not only getting fresher produce, but it requires less energy to produce and transport as well. By cutting the amount of energy required, you’re in turn reducing the number of carbon emissions produced.  
  • Carbon neutral beer and wine. And for the adults, if you are adding drinks to the menu Lion Australia is a Climate Active certified brewer, with a great range of beers, ciders and more, consider XXXX’s popular Carbon Neutral Zero Alcohol beer.  If wine is more to your taste, then check out carbon neutral Victorian winery Voyager Estate, who joined the International Wineries for Climate Action earlier this year.   
  • Share the leftovers! Ask your guests to bring reusable containers to take any leftovers home with them instead of telling yourself you’ll eat it before New Year’s (who ever finishes it all?). For anything left in your home, Spell’s beeswax wraps are a fantastic alternative to plastic wrap and a great food preserver. 

For some this might be the first holiday season in a long time that they can travel to see friends and family. 

  • If you’re heading somewhere by car, consider carpooling with others and ensure your car service is up to date, and tires properly inflated. Underinflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency and increase emissions. You can also offset your car online through Qantas’ Offset Your Home and Car product.
  • If you’re taking to the sky these holidays, Qantas have made being green even easier through TEM’s BlueHalo® technology. By simply ticking the box when you book to Fly Carbon Neutral and offset your emissions, you’re supporting verified environmental projects and communities around the globe.
  • Webjet’s Sustainable Traveller program allows travellers to tick the box at checkout to offset flights and minimise the environmental impact of travelling. Over 75,000 customers have contributed to offsetting over 52,000 tonnes of CO2e on flights!
  • And for those making a trip across the water, Singapore Airlines has also launched their carbon offset programme through the provision of TEM’s BlueHalo® technology 

While some of these changes may feel small, every little green action we take makes a great impact on our planet. In the words of Zero Waste chef Anne Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. 

It’s time we add the planet to our Santa list and wish for #NetZeroNow.  

Jack Newbury is TEM’s Marketing Coordinator; passionate about fostering inclusivity, creating impactful change, and live music.