Stopping the shopping this Christmas

Christmas delivers joy, presents and tinsel loads of festive cheer – but it also brings a lot of waste.

Think food leftovers that never make it past Boxing Day, mountains of wrapping paper that ultimately get dumped in the bin and Christmas trees that normally end up rotting in the backyard in the new year.

But for some Illawarra households, this Christmas has become the season to reuse and recycle, as residents opt to chuck in their usual traditions in favour of a ‘‘greener’’ Christmas.

Amid rising concerns about global warming, waste and the future of the environment, more and more people are adopting measures to ensure their festive season is more sustainable.

Wild Rumpus, a Thirroul-based skill sharing enterprise, has been running sold-out workshops, encouraging people to think more ecologically about their gift-giving.

Classes like soap making and do-it-yourself gift tags and wrapping paper have been well-received, along with the introduction of gift vouchers for workshops on bread baking, Mexican cooking and keeping chickens in the backyard as an alternative to presents like DVDs and clothes.

Co-director Lizzie Rose said Wild Rumpus’s focus on sustainability had been a hit with participants, particularly coming into the festive season.

‘‘We wanted people to think about Christmas a little differently and focus on giving people new skills rather then physical gifts,’’ she said.

‘‘The gift vouchers to classes are great because they set people up with a skill for life – it’s a much more sustainable way of gift giving.

‘‘You’re giving them something that they might be able to use every day, rather than just once.’’

Ms Rose believes many Illawarra residents have become increasingly concerned about the consumerism often associated with Christmas and are looking for an alternative.

‘‘It’s not just about what’s good for the environment but about creating less stress for people too.’’

‘‘There is this focus on consumption at Christmas time and people going out and buying things.

‘‘We like the idea of people doing it themselves and taking away that stress.’’

For those looking to reduce their carbon footprint this Christmas, Ms Rose encouraged people to think long and hard about their gift-giving and its potential long-term impact.

‘‘We really need to think about whether something is sustainable and useful – look at its packaging and really think about the reason you’re giving it,’’ she said.

Wollongong and Shellharbour councils are also touting the green Christmas message, asking people to reuse and recycle this festive season.

Visit www.wildrumpus.com.au for more information on Wild Rumpus classes.

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