Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution.” – Unknown

 It’s a terrible misnomer, but the festive season – which is all about cheer and goodwill to all in various religions – is one of the most wasteful of the year. There are piles of present wrappings, tons of unwanted toys and lots of leftovers – but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

To enjoy less wasteful and more charitable festivities this year, just follow these tips:

Wrapping waste

Recycle all your wrapping paper or take it down to the local dump and try and encourage family and friends to reuse wrapping from last year. You can also look to wrapping gifts in other gifts! T-shirts, scarves, towels and bags can all be used as innovative wrappings with raffia or ribbons; no plastics, tapes or wasteful paper is needed. Remember, there’s no shame in eliminating waste!

Leftover lunch (and dinner… and snacks!)

Here are three words to help with this one; cook, compassion or compost. There are plenty of websites for using leftovers the next day and beyond, from gammon sandwiches and gourmet lamb burgers to reused mince pies and end-of-the-month Salticrax snacks.

Alternatively, as is the Boxing Day custom, a more compassionate and charitable option is to look online for a local charity collecting and giving away food. You could even ask on your local Facebook community pages and join a drive to spread the festive cheer to those less fortunate. Try searching on if you’re really stuck.

Finally… compost, but this only applies to vegetable leftovers. Meat scraps that are headed for the bin are probably best wrapped in foil, frozen and then donated to your local animal shelter.


Throughout the year, we receive gifts for various occasions, not all of which are useful or wanted. If you receive a gift that you think you will never use, like that umpteenth wine bottle opener set, braai buddy, travel mug or item of clothing, pop it in a box that you can use for storing future gifts. You can save on waste and unnecessary spending when festive occasions roll around.

Most of these ideas require a little more thought and planning. As you know, it’s the thought that counts! Don’t casually throw away your waste or head to the shops whenever you need to purchase a gift; plan ahead and save money, time and waste.