Santa’s waste free Christmas tips

Another Christmas is upon us.  Together with all the fun and good times spent with family, opening presents and eating more than enough at the Christmas kaikai, there will be an enormoaus amount of rubbish generated.  So here are a few tips from Santa to help  you minimise your impact on our already overflowing landfill.

Firstly there are the Christmas gifts.  Try and not buy anything made of plastic that will be quickly broken and end up in the rubbish. Look for gifts that are long lasting or made from recycled or upcycled materials.. Circle Cook Islands is one local business doing a great job at upcycling materials into art, jewellery, wallets and bags.

Then there is the gift wrapping.  The children will get just as much suspense and anticipation out of unwrapping something wrapped up in newspaper as they will from fancy gift wrapping coloured with artificial chemicals.  Any paper wrapping or cardboard boxes can be composted or just laid flat in your garden to suppress weeds.  Or you may want to buy a pareu to wrap the gifts in, which becomes a very useful additional present!Rather than giving a material item, consider giving an experience.  There are so many things to do in Rarotonga. A nature and birdwatching walk in the Takitumu Conservation Area?  A trip on a fishing boat?  A snorkel tour or SCUBA diving experience.  Or for the more relaxing type of activity, a massage, spa or yoga session at the many different small local businesses.

As for the Christmas celebratory drinks., make use of the refill options available.  You can fill your flagons or reusable bottles with beer and kambucha from the Rarotongan Brewery in Nikao.  They also have wine (rose and sauvignon blanc), in reuseable keeper bottles.

The Bond Store also has Steinlager Classic and Tokyo dry on tap so you can refill your flagons or reuseable bottles there as well.  Every 2 litres of refill at the Bond or the Brewery keeps 6 empty stubbies or cans out of your rubbish.

Refill your reusable water bottles at one of the 20 plus treated water stations around Rarotonga, and avoid buying bottled water in single use plastics.

Next on our hit list is the throw away plastic lined, or completely plastic, cups that coffees and takeaway drinks come in.  It may be hard to believe, but some of the cafes are still using plastic straws!  Take your own reuseable keep cups, or even just a jam jar with a lid, the perfect re-useable cup recycled from your home.

If you are baking fish in your oven or umu, consider wrapping it up in banana leaves instead of aluminium foil. You just sear the leaf over a flame for a few seconds to make it more flexible for wrapping. They work really well and give a nice flavour to the fish.

While still on the topic of food, try and avoid using plastic cling wrap to cover food to keep the flies off.  Use a pareu or a table cloth instead, and wash it afterwards.


Wishing you all the very best for the festive season from the team at Te Ipukarea Society.  Here’s to supporting waste free cultures and minimising the waste in our small islands, big ocean country for 2023 and beyond.