Christmas and other end of year celebrations don’t have to involve loads of stuff no one needs and wasted food. We’ll help you enjoy a more sustainable Yuletide with our 12 Days of Nature this Christmas.
Along with tips on greener celebrations, we’ll also share some great ideas to get you in touch with nature over the summer break.
On the first day of Christmas nature gave to me
An Orange-bellied Parrot
Christmas trees – real or plastic? What do you think? Is it better to have a plastic tree that you reuse year after year or go natural?
The best option is a native Australian tree in a pot that you use year after year. Using a natural tree that’s been chopped down legally and lasts only one Christmas is also a good option as long as you make sure it’s properly mulched after Christmas, so it eventually becomes gardeny goodness, rather than landfill waste. If you already have a plastic tree, then keep on using it year after year after year.
2 Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies
Have the fun without the waste. Whether you’re hosting the family for Christmas dinner, having an end of year picnic or your sports club wind up barbie, you can make your party more sustainable with a little bit of planning and a lot less waste.
3 Mountain Pygmy-possums
Give a gift that doesn’t cost the Earth. With a little bit of thought, you can easily make sure the gifts you give are sustainable. Make a donation in a loved one’s name, make something, buy an experience or give something that will help the environment, like a reusable coffee cup (unless they already have one) or water bottle.
4 Plains Wanderers
Don’t overdo the wrapping. Use up last year’s leftovers, some of those finger paintings your kids have done, or tea towels in festive colours that can be put to use once the gift’s unwrapped. Also - avoid buying gifts with loads of packaging.
5 Leadbeaters Possums
Don’t get carried away with the Christmas catering. Victorian households throw away about $2,000 worth of food every year! Avoid the Yuletide waste by planning your Christmas menu and portion sizes, food shopping with a list and properly storing or sharing the leftovers.
6 Hooded Plovers
Give a gift to save our precious fauna. This is a great idea for the hard-to-buy-for person and the less materialistic among us. You can help Zoos Victoria protect wildlife by making a donation in your friend’s or relative’s name. You can cover the cost of a carry box to transport Eastern Barred Bandicoots for release in the wild or special feed for the zoo’s captive-bred Orange-bellied Parrots.
You can also ‘Adopt a Penguin’ through the Penguin Foundation on behalf of that special someone. (Sadly - no – you don’t get to take it home with you.) But the adoption fees will help protect the environment for Phillip Island’s Little Penguins, as well as funding education, research and wildlife rescue.
Or give wildlife the gift of a comfortable home, by supporting the Tree Sponsorship Program at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. It will help to maintain the beauty and diversity of Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens for the wildlife that call them home, including Kookaburras, Powerful Owls and Koalas. A tree sponsorship makes a fantastic gift and includes a certificate, and the latest issue of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria supporter magazine, Flourish.
These gift ideas are even sweeter because they’re tax deductible!
7 Helmeted Honeyeaters
Did somebody say ‘new bike for Christmas!!’? Then head out on your treadly and get into some nature! There are some amazing mountain bike tracks around Victoria including Buxton, the La Larr Ba Gauwa mountain bike park near Harcourt and Forrest (the town in the Otways) has several different tracks, including a skills park for beginners and more experienced riders. You’ll even see some forest while riding around Forrest!
8 spots on a Spot-tailed Quoll
Go camping for Christmas! Did you know most state forest camping grounds don’t require a booking? It’s a ‘first come, first serve’ system and campground fees in state forests are free (Murindindi Scenic Reserve is the exception). Christmas is a busy time in state forests so get in early and have a second option in mind. Plan ahead with the MoretoExplore app on iPhone or android.
Please remember our forests and national parks will be closed on code red fire days. Always monitor fire warning as your personal safety is your responsibility when camping in Victoria.
9 Eastern-barred Bandicoot bounces
Celebrate in nature. Why not enjoy Christmas by the beach, at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (either Melbourne or Cranbourne), one of Victoria’s magnificent parks or a local park near you (check your council’s website for local park locations)?
When you’re out enjoying some Mother nature, please give the Insta rock stack trend a miss. It’s destroying the habitat of some of our most threatened species.
Getting into nature is good for our health and well being. Taking the party outdoors may alleviate some of the Christmas stress, so everyone has a great day.
10 Iconic birds
Connect your kids to nature. It could be the best Christmas gift you ever give them. You’ll be setting them up for a healthier life because enjoying nature regularly is good for their wellbeing. It’ll be good for you too.
You can try bush walking, visit the zoo (free entry for kids on Victorian school holidays and weekends), go cycling or take a trip to a park or garden near you. Or why not book them in for a Junior Rangers adventure? (Heads up: they fill up fast!)
11 Growling Grass Frogs
Give mother nature a Christmas present this year. Try volunteering for the environment. Like all mums, we’re sure she’ll be happy you made the effort.
Plant indigenous trees that will support wildlife in your area, or become a citizen scientist and monitor birds in your backyard to help us understand more about Victoria’s natural diversity. Find a volunteer group near you with our interactive map. You could join a Landcare or Coastcare environmental volunteering group, if there’s one where you live. Or you can volunteer in one of Victoria’s beautiful parks.
Photo: Geoff Heard
12 Grey-headed Flying Foxes
Reuse, recycle….and regift? Once the parties are over and you’re packing up the fairy lights for another year, consider what you can reuse. Gift boxes, bags and ribbons can be reused. Could some tatty, tawdry tinsel be used in your six-year-old’s next craft project? That present you received that’s absolutely perfect…for someone else… can be donated or regifted.
Anything left over, please recycle where possible. Then look at what’s left and make sending less waste to landfill your 2020 new year’s resolution.
Page last updated: 20/12/19