As we near the end of another year filled with ups and downs, Aussies are gearing up to spread a little joy by splurging on loved ones during the holidays, and they’re choosing the most eco-friendly options available. With the growing awareness around the environmental impact of silly season waste, many are thinking of new ways to minimise their footprint and still enjoy the holidays without compromising all the trimmings.

Dubbed “The Most Wasteful Time of Year”, we collectively produce 30% more waste at Christmas time than any other time of year, with nearly 5 million tonnes of food sent to landfill. We use in excess of 150,000km of wrapping paper alone, enough to go around the earth nearly four times. The main offenders at Christmas are packaging, presents and food waste, with single-use plastics taking the crown for having one of the most significant impacts on land and water pollution. 

Australia’s culture of excess during Christmas has a well-documented effect on the environment; as waste materials left over from the holiday season breaks down in landfill, methane is released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming

Last year Australians spent a staggering $574 million on 18.7 million unwanted gifts, sending an avalanche of plastic packaging and rejected items straight to landfill. Despite the dampening effects of inflation and cost of living concerns, the ecommerce boom shows no sign of slowing down in the lead up to the silly season. As Christmas 2022 approaches, consumers are still keen to shop online, but are more wary of the effect their consumption has on the environment. 

I’m horrified by the excess plastic packaging generated by online shopping, especially around the holiday season. Confronted by the vast amount of plastic during this time, I encourage retailers to make the simple swap to packaging materials that are designed to decompose completely, to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic going into landfill.

Consumers are likewise calling on businesses to take action, with research from Deloitte showing that they expect companies to show leadership on the issues of climate change and environment. In terms of voting with their dollar 90% of Aussie consumers show a marked preference for ethical and sustainable products over their conventional counterparts. And for Christmas a quarter of respondents surveyed by ING said they would like to receive “socially conscious or eco-friendly” Christmas presents this year, with the eco-conscious preference extending to packaging too.

More customers are demonstrating their commitment to the plastic-free movement by purchasing from retailers that opt for zero-waste packaging, like fashion label Cue, online retailer Beginning Boutique and cosmetics company Lush, to name a few. Meanwhile retailers that aren’t environmentally friendly are being dumped by consumers in droves. Don’t let packaging be an afterthought this year.

Anaita Sarkar is the founder of Hero Packaging.