My plastic free, almost zero-waste Christmas

I set myself a challenge this year – to see if I could still cook up the amazing spread my family has become famous for – but make it as waste free as possible!

Christmas time is my favourite time of year – I’m lucky to be blessed with a family I love spending time with, friends who join in, and all in all it is a day I always love to participate in.

This year I was apprehensive – my memories of Christmas have always involved lots of food and lots of presents – which means lots of PLASTIC and packaging!

I set myself a goal this year to be as waste-free as possible.  I did some research (and lots of planning) and managed to scrape away from Xmas with next to ZERO waste – a few tins of jackfruit, some cardboard from the fabric I bought to wrap presents, and some baking paper!

Here’s what I did:

Gifts/Presents:

For the most part, my family is not materialistic.  They did not expect much of me, and neither I from them.

But when asked about what I wanted I had a think and set myself a few guidelines:

  • Whatever I asked for had to be useful – or at least be something to help my zero waste goals in the future!
  • Where possible, request people buy second hand (clothes, appliances etc.)
  • Encourage people to wrap minimalistically

My haul included a variety of beauty products from Lush, a pressure cooker, soda stream, headphones and some lipsticks.  Overall I’m fairly happy with the amount of recyclable packaging that was used.  Ultimately not ‘zero-waste’ but not everybody is on the same page as I am.  I can only lead by example and the last thing I wanted to do was to upset people, and not everybody sees an issue with the amount of waste gift wrapping and presents generate; so whilst we had a mountain of paper we recycled at the end, I tried my best to salvage what I could from my gifts – I now have a few boxes and pieces of paper I can re-purpose for other people’s gifts!  Maybe next year more of my family might enjoy wrapping minimalistically =)

Unfortunately a bit of leftover packaging which I will do my best to dispose of as best as I can!

For the presents I bought people I opted for similar guidelines.  My friends and I all went for the ‘presence, not presents’ mentality and had a lovely dinner together. For my family I chose the following:

  • Giftwrapping using the Furoshiki method
  • Making hand-made items such as this Coffee Scrub
  • Offering ‘presence – not presence’ in the form of a gift certificate for my dad entitling him to a family camping trip!
  • Presents that served another purpose – such as cook books which would inevitably be something that could be used for years!

The gift wrapping was actually really fun – everybody loved the concept of the fabric – some chose to give it back to me, others didn’t and decided to keep the fabric I chose for them.  Dad also loved the gift certificate idea – so that’s a win win!

Some of the Homemade Coffee Scrub (recipe to come!) I made for my sister, and the Furoshiki gift wrapping technique I used for presents!

Food and Recipes

This is where lots of wastage and packaging usually occurs – this year I wanted to be prepared, and essentially these were my ‘zero waste’ Christmas steps for food preparation:

  • Took produce bags to my local green grocer
  • All herbs sourced without plastic – put them straight into the trolley
  • Vegetables and Salads all sourced from FreshCorp Hornsby – loose leaf herbs AND salad vegetables
  • Made adjustments to ingredients where necessary
    • Substitute sweeteners eg. Maple Syrup and Agave
    • Substitute flavourings – packaged mustard
  • Made my own where possible:
    • I made my own tofu
    • I made my own pastry
    • Mum made her own apple sauce from some old apples!
  • I PLANNED! I wrote a list of everything I needed – worked out what I already had, where I needed to go
  • Entrees:
    • Vegetarian San Choy Bau from ‘Passion’ by Anthea Amore
      • Calls for ‘tempeh’ but we substituted for crushed lentils. You could also substitute for chopped walnuts and add a little more liquid, or dry TVP!
    • ‘Life Affirming Warm Nacho Dip’ from ‘Oh She Glows’ Cookbook
      • Ommitted the corn chips
      • Made my own marinara sauce
      • Purchased a loaf of Turkish bread from Baker’s Delight and asked them to put it straight into my bag
  • Main Meal:
    • Was my Ultimate Vegan Wellington which I worked on tirelessly and it was worth every second!
    • Salads:
      • Beluga Lentil Salad and Chickpea Avocado Salad
        • Both from ‘Passion’ by Anthea Amore
        • Soaked and cooked lentils myself
        • All oils and flavourings sourced from The Source Bulkfoods
      • Veggie Sides
        • Purchased all veg and oils plastic free from local grocers and bulk food stores!
      • Made my own ‘Vegan Gravy’
      • BBQ Pulled Jackfruit – the only waste I created this Xmas other than some baking paper! If you want a completely zero waste alternative, use fresh jackfruit – recipe from More Vegan Blog
  • Desserts/Supper
    • No Bake Cheesecake – all ingredients purchased from Bulkfood stores. Cheesecakes always go down a treat, are easy to prepare and always delicious.
    • Selection of Vegan Cheeses with Seed Bread (recipe to come!)- I usually use Miyoko’s Vegan Cheese book but couldn’t get the rejuvelac culture right so just made a few up on the spot (wasn’t disappointed)
    • Sweet Potato Pate – another experimentation gone SO RIGHT – oooooo it’s actually amazingly delicious and I’m so happy at how well it turned out.

As for alcohol? I stick to spirits – whilst they aren’t zero waste I feel getting 24 drinks out of one bottle compared to having 24 bottles is far better (plus vodka bottles make fantastic vases)

Et VOILA! My almost zero-waste, vegan Christmas!

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3 thoughts on “My plastic free, almost zero-waste Christmas

  1. Diane says:

    Nice. I have a stash of decorated fabric “stockings” – some bought post xmas at 75% or 90% discount, which my family tend to return to me – close top with safety pin or whatever. And sacks which are a great way to wrap awkward presents- also i don’t mind storing fabric, reused paper makes me think silverfish. Also look out for tea towels (xmas prints post xmas, otherwise green or red or if my recipiient has a blue & white kitchen I might get that) and wrap gifts in those….

    Liked by 1 person

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