The Christmas holidays are a time for family and merry-making. They also happen to be a time when the amount of waste the average household produces goes through the roof! Christmas traditions are near and dear to our hearts, so breaking habits during this holiday is especially hard. There are thousands of little things that could stand to be improved to make this a more Eco-friendly holiday, but instead of overwhelming you with a long list of tips, here are some guiding principles to help you enjoy a green Christmas.
Decorate for a Lifetime
Nothing says Christmas like a festive tree glittering with lights and baubles! Skipping this tradition would be out of the question, so here’s how to be responsible about your Christmas decorations.
While some might opt for a plastic tree which is reusable, the synthetic materials are not the best thing to have around your home, so we would still opt for natural. If you can, get a tree locally to minimise your carbon footprint, and to eliminate waste, plant your tree so you can reuse it again next year! With the baubles and trimmings, again the rule of thumb if you can’t skip it is to find the most Eco-friendly alternative, so buy ornaments secondhand, skip the plastic tinsel, and opt for LED-lights.
Other zero-waste Christmas decoration ideas:
- Make ornaments out of dried fruits or natural materials.
- Deck the halls with boughs of holly…really! Trim branches to place above the mantle.
- String together popcorn and cranberries to hang outside your home; these festive garlands will be a hit with wildlife and leave minimal trace.
Be Mindful About Meals
Holiday meals and parties are a wonderful part of Christmas but can quickly turn into a minefield of waste. As in our Zero-Waste Thanksgiving Guide, with some planning ahead, there’s a lot you can do to enjoy holiday meals while being more green.
Little things like taking the time to plan your meals and limiting yourself to only what’s needed will go a long way. Invite your guests to help by sharing supplies or have them bring their own flatware (so you can skip the single-use stuff) and containers to take home leftovers.
Go the Extra Mile at Mealtime:
- Buy whatever ingredients you can locally to limit your carbon footprint.
- Try to buy in bulk or carefully choose which products you buy to limit packaging waste. Then don’t forget to recycle or reuse whatever packaging you can!
- Skip the turkey or ham; producing meat takes a mighty toll on Mother Earth.
- Compost your trimmings and bits of food that don’t make the cut as leftovers.
Focus on People, Not Things
This family holiday has become, if you believe television and the advertising industry, a holiday about stuff. Stuff that we arguably don’t even need. We’re not Grinches here, the sentiment of giving and receiving gifts is a lovely one, and the joy a thoughtful present can bring is priceless, but that’s the thing – be thoughtful.
Instead of immediately gifting stuff, consider gifting experiences instead. A toy or trinket can be quickly forgotten, but you’ll always treasure the memory of that concert, couple’s spa day or family vacation. Our time is truly priceless and choosing to spend it with our loved ones is the greatest gift we have to give.
Try Gifting these Experiences:
- A spa or beauty voucher
- Tickets for a concert or live show
- A museum pass
- Dance, exercise, art or hobby classes
- Dining vouchers
- Go on a trip, or give money towards a trip
Opt for Eco-Friendly or Packaging-Free Alternatives
Okay, okay, we’ll admit – sometimes we love gifting stuff too. This Christmas though, we are trying to be more mindful about the gifts we give and how we buy and share them.
When shopping online, we’re choosing to “ship with less packaging” whenever possible. We’re gifting bottles of wine that don’t use plastic corks or items that have compostable packaging.
Before you buy or give, ask yourself if there’s any eco-friendly or less wasteful way to go, sometimes all it takes to go zero-waste is a little imagination or awareness – even if it’s as small as making sure to choose items packaged in cardboard instead of plastic.
More Ideas for Eco-Friendly Gifting:
- Get creative with gift wrap – reuse newspaper or other packaging, last year’s saved wrapping paper, reusable cloth bags or even SuperBee Wax Wraps!
- Skip the greeting cards and send a family video.
- Look for handcrafted gifts or make something yourself, it will have more value.
- Gift a nicely arranged food basket or yummy baked goods.
- Suggest a Secret Santa so you’re gifting as a group.
- Purchase gifts that will help your friends and family live more sustainably and Eco-friendly. For instance, we have a new Eco-Friendly Family Gift Basket stuffed with Wax Wraps, reusable cloth produce bags, bamboo toothbrushes, glass straws and more that will last longer than a fruit basket!
This season of giving, taking the time to plan and get creative is not only more sustainable but if a fun way to get into the festive spirit! While skipping or substituting some traditions might get you some questions from friends and neighbours, we say it’s worth it in order to enjoy an Eco-friendly and zero-waste Christmas.