Cape Town - Waste management and eco groups have called on the public to reduce holiday waste for a more environmentally sustainable festive season this year.
Waste management experts at Averda said waste generation increased considerably over the holiday period with an unnecessary oversupply of food and gifts that come at a damaging cost to the planet.
Averda managing director Justice Tootla said an easy way people could lessen waste was to green their decorations by ditching the usual wrapping paper and instead use paper alternatives such as cloth, old magazines, discarded comics or even old maps that have been collecting dust at home.
Two Oceans Aquarium spokesperson Renée Leeuwner said excessive waste was always a cause for concern; however, it was amplified around this time of year because there was so much emphasis on consumerism.
Leeuwner urged families to take responsibility for the packaging of the products, gifts and food bought.
“Start by rethinking what you buy and how that will affect the environment. Then think of how you are going to dispose of your waste and do that responsibly. Then take those responsible decisions and continue along those lines going forward – not just during the festive season,” Leeuwner said.
With South Africa already being a consumption-driven society, Waste-ED founder Candice Mostert also encouraged families to look at reusable or compostable products instead of single-use products.
“Make sure you are separating food waste and diverting that from landfill, which is one of our national goals, and rather take it to a place that can process it, such as the Oranjezicht Farm Market or local gardens,” said Mostert.
The Beach Co-op operations manager Megan-Rose Francis added that food packaging was a major source of waste found on beaches, so reducing food packaging during the festive season would also reduce the waste that ends up in the ocean.
Sharing how she would be celebrating a more environmentally sustainable festive season this year to encourage others, LOVE Kitchen founder Clare Thomas said she would carpool to try to reduce driving, wrap presents in newspapers, support local businesses when buying food, and try to buy gifts that had long lifespans or would decompose naturally.