The holiday season can be overwhelming, so let us make it easy for you to minimise waste. Whether you’re headed to the beach or bach, or having the family round to your place, use these simple tips to avoid excess waste over the holidays.
Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, offers his support for thinking sustainably this holiday season.
“Over summer and the Christmas period, many of us will be at the beach, in the bush or down at our local park appreciating our natural environment. The best gift we can give is a healthy environment for all generations to enjoy.
“We can all do our bit over the holidays to protect our environment, by doing things like reducing our waste, recycling that Christmas packaging, reporting illegal dumping, stop flushing wet wipes and taking our rubbish home at the end of the day out.”
Last-minute zero-waste gift ideas
It can be so tempting to buy that new appliance or gadget, but it’s worth pausing a moment to question first whether you really need it, whether an existing item could do the job already, or whether second-hand is a better option.
Ask yourself: how was it made, how long will it last, how much power will it use, what will I do with it once I’m done? This is one of the easiest ways to save some serious money and prevent the waste of so many usable or fixable things you already have.
Councillor Pippa Coom recommends the Grey Lynn car boot market for the best unique holiday gifts. It’s on the Sunday before Christmas and the last Sunday of every month. Everything is second-hand, so you shop without growing your carbon footprint.
If you do go shopping, remember to bring your reusable bags, just like you would for groceries. You’ll be much happier carrying them than trying to juggle single-use ones.
Here are four sources of inspiration for your holiday gift-giving that don’t require you to make or bake anything.
Visit a community recycling centre
These local centres divert waste from landfill and sell these quality items, so they can find a new life in your home and community. The inventory is always changing but it can be a great place to get outdoor and camping equipment, BBQs, bicycles, furniture, books, jewellery, and so many more one-of-a-kind treasures. Most people simply drop by to find a surprise gem; that’s half the fun! Look for one in your neighbourhood and check their opening hours.
Join a toy library
Rather than buy a toy once, why not give your child a membership to one of Auckland’s many toy libraries. Toy Libraries offer a range of quality toys, puzzles, games and learning activities for members to hire for a set period of time. Toy Libraries are registered charitable organisations that are run by a group of volunteers.
Give a tree
The Kaipātiki project will plant a native tree for you in a reserve for only $10. Your gift is helping the biodiversity of our local spaces and will continue to grow for many years to come. This way of gifting also eliminates any unnecessary wrapping, packaging and transportation. A win for you and our climate.
Give your time
Offer a night of free babysitting, some gardening, or another special service that helps reduce the summer stress. Or, offer an experience you can do together to create new memories and try something you might not otherwise have done.
Zero waste holiday parties
Ditch the balloons! Put a big ribbon with a bow on your mailbox instead. Unlike a balloon it won't pop, and you can use it year after year.
Better party favours. Don’t waste time and money on goodie bags or extra stocking stuffers. Most of the “goodies” are plastic bits that end up in landfill. Instead, send your guests home with baked goods or leftovers. Or, if you need a party favour, consider giving everyone a tomato plant.
Avoid themed decorations. A lot of festive merchandise is single use, adds up to more spend than you planned for, and ends up in a landfill. Not to mention the labour and resources in the whole process. If you want a party theme, focus on a colour scheme and use materials you already have or can use again easily.
For kids games, consider re-usable options like fabric and ribbon for pass the parcel, instead of single-use paper that will be in the recycling bin faster than the kids have finished their lollies. You can also think about a simple activity that uses recycled materials, like making your own fidget spinners.
Love your leftovers. Here are seven simple ways to get a quick new meal everyone will like, using your holiday leftovers. Sausages and steaks from the barbeque make great tacos, pizza toppings, fried rice, or salad rolls.
Waste-free beach trips
To keep our public spaces beautiful, Auckland Council is sharing these litter-busting tips to encourage everyone to put litter in its place while out and about.
“It’s great when people think about their waste ahead of time whilst they’re planning their holiday trips to the beach or park. We encourage people to ‘pack in and pack out’,” says Parul Sood, General Manager for Waste Solutions.
"When you’re packing in, try to pack up your food and other items in reusable containers, wherever possible, and then remove any excess packaging before you leave the house. For the other items, take a couple of extra bags with you and make sure you take the sorted leftover waste home."
If you do spot an overflowing public place litter bin, while you’re out and about around Auckland this summer, please call the Council on 09 301 0101 to report it, and arrangements will be made for a contractor to clear the bin.
Be responsible for your waste
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of rubbish your household produces.
Remember, it's your responsibility to dispose of your household and inorganic waste safely and legally. Your collection date might be different during the holidays.
Dumping rubbish is illegal and may result in a fine or prosecution, which would really put a damper on the holiday cheer. If you see items left on the kerb or cul-de-sac, give us a call at 0800 NO DUMP (0800 663 867).