Reduce your festive footprint this Christmas

Thursday, 13 December

North East Waste and its member councils are encouraging people to be waste wise this Christmas and keep items out of landfill.

Christmas is a time of giving, sharing and creating memories with family and friends. It’s also the time of year people tend to go a little overboard, buying gifts, food and other festive items.

According to the 2017 Choosi Clutter Report, the average Australian household spends around $963 a year on gifts for friends and family during the festive season and admits to receiving around $620 worth of gifts that were no longer used, returned or re-gifted, or ended up in landfill.

Add to that the $4000 worth of edible food thrown away by each NSW household every year, and there is even more financial incentive to reduce your festive footprint.

Of course, it’s not only about the money. Pressure on the environment increases dramatically during the silly season with waste rising on average by 30%. Wrapping paper, packaging and uneaten food are the main offenders.

Take a moment this Christmas to consider how you can reduce your festive footprint.

Make a list and check it twice

When purchasing ask yourself – is this item wanted or needed? Can I avoid waste with this item choice (e.g. packaging) or re-use/recycle the waste that comes from it?

Plan to keep every step of your shopping experience waste wise by using reuseable shopping bags, reuseable cloth or mesh fruit and vegie bags, and choosing items with either no packaging or packaging that’s recyclable or compostable.


  • Opt for experiences over stuff (e.g. movie tickets, restaurant vouchers, memberships and annual passes).
  • Upcycle, repair and re-gift.
  • Choose an item someone really needs that friends and family can contribute towards.
  • Make a charitable donation in lieu of gifts.
  • Buy second-hand.
  • Organise a Secret Santa.
  • Set a spend limit for each person.
  • Send e-cards or social media greetings rather than Christmas cards.

Food and drinks:

  • Make a plan and stick with it! Keep to your shopping list to avoid overbuying.
  • Use what you already have or meal plan around these items.
  • Buy locally and the freshest available so it lasts longer.
  • Think of meal portions per guest when planning how much food to have on the day.
  • Let guests know whether they can bring food and what to bring.
  • Correctly store and use leftovers – slice up the leftover ham or turkey and freeze into easy portion sizes for future sandwiches, frittatas and salads. Use clear containers and label items so you know what is in them.
  • While disposable plates, cups and cutlery are tempting – think of the waste! Choose reusable instead.

Read more about these tips and leftover storage or creative recipe ideas at and


Gift wrapping

  • Use Christmas stockings or sacks rather than wrapping each gift.
  • Make your own wrapping paper (e.g. use children’s artwork).
  • Reuse bags or Christmas wrap from previous years.
  • Avoid using wrapping paper that cannot be recycled such as foil or plastic-coated paper.

Post-Christmas wrap-up

  • #RecycleRight through your yellow recycling bin by keeping it simple (only hard plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars, steel and aluminium cans, paper and cardboard), keep out soft plastics, keep out items smaller than a credit card, keep it safe, keep it clean and keep it loose.
  • Compost inedible food waste through your green organics bin or home composting.
  • Donate any unwanted items to charity or re-gift/sell.

For more information on the new #RecycleRight campaign visit or pick up a free fridge magnet with what items can go in which colour bin at the Council Corporate Centre or the Lismore and Goonellabah Libraries.

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