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Living Lightly column

Who is a Grinch?

By Claire Coulson 

Christmas is the most wasteful time of the year. It’s a well established fact, just ask a garbo. But raising the topic will quickly see you labelled the family Grinch, ‘tis the season to be jolly after all.

Instead I try to let my actions do the talking. There are hundreds of ‘green Christmas’ ideas out there. I’ve tried many of them, with varying degrees of success. In the spirit of giving, I’m sharing some of my hits and misses.

Family have been hardest to please with my ‘green’ giving. Those traditions are tough to challenge. The idea of just not giving gifts did not go down well at all! I thought giving my sister a charitable pile of poo was hilarious. She did not appreciate that a family had fertilizer to grow food, she considered herself cheated. That said, charitable gifts have been much appreciated by colleagues and remote friends. Maybe my sister is the family Grinch after all.

Kris Kringle has been a more successful option. Everyone gets one good quality gift they actually want. A selection of North East produce will satisfy any foodie and food waste won’t be an issue; no one will let it end up in the bin!

I’ve tried DIY gifts, but they require too much preparation for me. I’m not that organized, and frankly, not that crafty. On the plus side my DIY gifts made the no gifting option more attractive.  Instead I’ve channelled my creativity into waste free wrapping; floral sheets from the op-shop for large items or old maps, foil, office scrap. By far my most winning initiative.

On the whole, friends are easier to please. They are often keen to defer catch-up’s until after Christmas, avoiding impulse buys made in the last minute rush. Friends are also less insistent on physical gifts; they would much prefer a voucher or free lunch than a dud gift.

Turns out I’m not always easily pleased. I’ve had to test my own expectations and am not immune to being caught up in the rush. Those marketing folk really know what they are doing. If only they would use their powers for good! If you do want to chat about festive waste I’d love to. You’ll find me near the bins, making sure no scrap of wrapping goes un-recycled.

This is the Living Lightly summer series. This article was first published on 23rd Dec 2015.