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The holiday season has arrived!

For many, the holidays bring fun, laughter and precious time with our friends and families. But with waste thought to increase by 30% during the holiday period, our celebrations can have a big impact on our planet.

The good news is there are many ways you can reduce your impact while still having a magical holiday period.

If you’re keen to make your holiday season a little more sustainable, you can start by reducing your consumption using the buyerarchy of needs as a guide. This will help you prioritise your purchases and make more informed decisions about what you really need.

Image shows the buyerarchy pyramid. At the bottom, use what you have, followed by borrow, swap, thrift, make and at the top, buy.

(Image copyright Sarah Lazarovic)

Use what you have

Often, the most sustainable item you can use is the one you already have. Before you head off to the shops this year, take stock of the food, decorations and clothing you already have at home. Make a list of what you have and a plan for what you’ll need. The chances are there is something already at home that will suit your purpose perfectly, and you can start ticking off your to-buy list!


If you don’t have the item you need, see if you can borrow it from a friend or neighbour. You may find that the perfect set of lights, the food processor you need just for one day or the perfect dress for the office party are all available in your community. If your friends don’t have what you need, check online borrowing communities or rental services for options.

Give back to your community, too. Lend out items you found during your stock-take that you don’t plan to use this year.


Novelty can make the holidays feel special. Try swapping outfits, decorations and recipes with friends and family. If you want to take it further, organise a community swap day at your local community centre or workplace. Not only does this increase your chances of finding your perfect item, but you might find a new favourite recipe or tradition to add to your celebrations.

Two women laughing and baking a cake together in the kitchen.


The second-hand market is booming! Plenty of treasures can be found in your local thrift or charity shops. Online markets are growing, too, allowing people to sell their items and make a bit of spending money for the holidays. Check out sites like eBay, Vinted and Olio for second-hand bargains.

Similarly, you could sell some of those items you found when compiling your list. If you found things in your home that you no longer need, why not sell them online or donate them to your local charity shop and help someone else find their perfect item?


Try making your own decorations or gifts this festive season. Homemade items are often incredibly touching and bring a special kind of magic to your celebrations and traditions. It’s also a great activity for rainy afternoons. Get the kids involved and make memories to be enjoyed for years to come.

A collection of tops to buy from a rack in a shop.


So you’ve made your way up the list but still need to buy that special item to make your holiday season perfect? Choosing local, independent businesses (especially those who proactively take action for the planet) is a great way to support your local community and look after nature. If nothing local is available for you, do your research online. You will often find that paying a little more for something sustainably made and built to last will be the best investment for you and the planet.

Remember, every small step we take is a positive change. Just imagine if every single one of us committed to reducing our waste this year; the results would be huge. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, or even if you don't, being more mindful of our choices, where we spend our money, and how we impact the world around us can make an incredible difference to both our planet and ourselves.

Buyerarchy of needs courtesy of Sarah Lazarovic


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