Over $900m wasted on unwanted gifts

Over $900m wasted on unwanted gifts

Nine Hundred Million Reasons to Go Green this Christmas

The spirit of Christmas is synonymous with giving. But research by the Australia Institute recently revealed thirty percent of Aussies expect to receive unwanted presents - and most of them will end up in landfill.

By Keeley Henderson


With Australians predicted to waste $921 million on unwanted gifts this Christmas, a sustainability expert has revealed how you can avoid ending up on the scrap heap.

The secret, according to celebrity interior designer Felicity Bernstein, is opting for something made with love.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, or what your socio-economic status is, there’s nothing more precious than a thoughtful, handmade gift from someone you love.”

Melbourne-based Felicity - whose house was featured on Grand Designs Australia- is a huge fan of upcycling, the art of giving new life to an item no longer in use.

Upcycling is a fun, creative way of showing your appreciation to the person you love, while also being kind to the planet. “The joy of giving new life to an old, unused item hidden at the back of a cupboard is priceless.

“People are always giving items away on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. All they need is a little bit of paint and imagination and you can create something truly spectacular.

“A pre-loved t-shirt can be transformed into a trendy tote bag. Use decoupage to create one-of-a-kind furniture, or lovingly decorate an old terracotta pot with limestone paint.”

Felicity and her award-winning architect husband Marc Bernstein-Hussmann are leading experts in sustainability and design.

They are the creative geniuses behind Melbourne Design Studios and they’ve just written their first book. Ninety-Nine Green Ideas, which provides inspiration on how we can all leave a positive footprint on the planet.

“Upcycling is just one example of how we can take action against climate change in a really fun and fulfilling way.

“But it’s not all about upcycling. You can still be kind to the planet by sourcing gifts that are ethically made from sustainable, natural materials which don’t contribute to mountains of waste.

“Our book offers lots of different ideas for all kinds of budgets.”

Felicity hopes the shocking figures released by the Australia Institute might be the catalyst for a conscious shift in the zeitgeist.

“The impact of all that waste is astronomical when we consider landfill, environmental footprints and the underpaid workers who put their lives at risk to produce those goods in the first place.

“What type of legacy are we leaving for future generations?”

Felicity insists taking action against climate is easier - and simpler - than people think.

“It doesn’t have to mean changing and compromising your entire lifestyle.

“If we all integrate small, daily doses of micro-activism into our lives, like upcycling or choosing products made from natural materials like sustainable timber, collectively that makes a big difference to the planet.

“We leave our mark wherever we go. But there is so much goodness we can create with every choice we get right.

“Buying and consuming with conscious intention improves health, enhances quality of life and creates more meaningful moments.”

Felicity encourages last-minute Christmas shoppers to consider upcycling.
“Creative projects are a great mindfulness exercise, an excellent antidote for stress and so bene
ficial to our mental health.

“There’s a lot of eco-anxiety around climate change, particularly with younger generations, and this is one way to help our children feel more empowered.

“Upcycling projects bring people together in a truly magical way.

“Sitting around a table, chatting, laughing and working together is such a wholesome way for us to connect with friends and family.

“And ultimately, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?”

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