Author: Nell MacDonald
As we head into the Holiday Season, offices across the country are looking forward to wrapping up the work year with Christmas celebrations. While we all look forward to celebrating the achievements of the year, it’s also a great time to think about how to not only make your Christmas celebrations more sustainable but also use them as an opportunity to give back to the community.
Create a zero-waste event by using reusable cutlery, plates and cups to enjoy your Christmas feast. You can also make sure to ask the bar you’re attending to avoid giving your group straws, or better yet support bars that have pledged to #StrawNoMore. For any catered events, you can reduce your food waste by giving the caterers an accurate number of attendees to minimise leftover food. For any inevitable leftovers, encourage staff in advance to bring containers so they can take any leftovers home with them.
Secret Santa is often a must at many Christmas events but can also lead to a lot of unnecessary gifts which will be looked and laughed at once, then squirrelled away in the back of a draw. For Planet Ark’s Secret Santa, we encourage all staff to purchase;
And lastly, remember to recycle those bottles and cans. You can visit Recycling Near You for information about your state’s container deposit scheme.
There are many social initiatives for both catering and team bonding experiences which allow your staff to enjoy a truly unique event. Some excellent companies and initiatives Planet Ark has come across are listed below. If you are based outside of these areas, finding these companies is as easy as searching for local social enterprise catering or events companies.
Planet Ark’s monthly staff meetings are catered by a wonderful, ethically run catering company called Parliament on King. This café and catering service based on King St, Newtown is run by asylum seekers and refugees in partnership with locals. Their catering menu celebrates the dishes from country of origin. With Burmese noodles one week, Sri Lankan curries the next, you’re staff will enjoy a varied and delicious menu while also supporting refugees and asylum seekers in finding work in hospitality. I can personally vouch that the food is amazing every time!
Another option is to support OzHarvest as they tackle food waste and feed those in need. You can get your event catered with their food truck or, how about organising a fun team bonding experience with their Cooking for a Cause program. This corporate building program allows your team to get together at their kitchens across the country to cook restaurant quality meals to be delivered to a number of charities.
The Bread and Butter Project offer Sourdough & Pastry Master Classes where your team can get together to make your own sourdough and sweet treats. This social enterprise bakery reinvests 100% of their profits into baker training and employment pathways for refugees and asylum seekers.
The Koori Kulcha Experience offers catering with a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous food options to the Sydney, Southern Highland and Canberra regions. They also offer team building workshops where your staff can enjoy Indigenous art or cooking classes.
Two Good is available for catering in both Sydney and Melbourne and their Eat One - Treat One model supports women’s refuges for domestic violence survivors.
For those based in Melbourne, the City of Melbourne has put together a handy guide on catering options in your area.
Another easy and meaningful way to give back that the girls at Planet Ark love to be involved with each year is Share the Dignity’s It’s in the bag program. Simply put the call out around the office for staff to pick up some extra personal hygiene products or their favourite everyday luxuries, put it in a preloved, good quality handbag and drop it off at a collection point. These bags will then be given to women or girls experiencing homelessness.
Of course, you can make use of initiative like these all year round, but what better time to support others in the community than Christmas!
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Nell is Special Projects Manager at Planet Ark.
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