I love Christmas as much as the next person but it’s not the greenest time of the year. From single-use plastic to food waste and high electric charges, it’s not the best thing for the environment and you might be stumped on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas that’s still festive and fun.
Climate change and pollution is not the Average Joe’s fault so I don’t think the solution here is to just make ourselves miserable and cancel Christmas. We can still enjoy the holiday season while making some tweaks for a more sustainable Christmas. I’ve compiled a list on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas.
How To Be Eco-Friendly During Christmas
Sustainable Wrapping Paper
Most standard wrapping paper isn’t recyclable because it contains plastic.
Sustainable alternatives like brown paper or upcycled newspapers have become more popular in recent years. Lots of stores have started selling brown paper with Christmas-themed designs so your presents don’t have to look boring.
Personally, I’ve been saving pretty paper throughout the year to use as wrapping paper. Make sure to reuse gift bags too. Most gift bags are pretty sturdy so they can definitely be reused again and again. That said, sometimes I will just use the paper bag from the store.
So many Christmas gifts come absolutely smothered in plastic. Most of the time, there isn’t even a need for all of the packaging!
Here are some ideas for more sustainable gifts:
- A Voucher
- Print-On-Demand Products
- DIY Hamper – rather than buying a pre-made hamper covered in plastic, buy some single items and create one yourself
- Something from the heart: make cookies, knit a scarf, draw a picture etc
If you have the time and the resources, why not make some of your Christmas snacks from scratch, Like cookies, cakes and pudding.
A lot of products come in a ridiculous amount of single-use plastic, so DIYing it cuts down on a lot.
Get A Reusable Tree
Yes, usually they are plastic but they last forever. My parent’s Christmas tree is probably older than I am and it’s still in perfect condition.
I know “real” trees smell like Christmas but there is a downside. Getting a real tree might seem like an eco-friendly option. They’re biodegradable, right? If you’re going to dispose of if your tree properly so it can biodegrade then sure! If you live in the countryside and will probably use the tree for firewood later then great!
The problem is that most people don’t. If you live in the suburbs or a city, you’ll probably just throw your tree in the trash. Trees cannot biodegrade in the dump. Organic matter will just sit there produce methane and carbon dioxide, so I would rather just take the reusable tree down from the attic every year.
The same logic applies to a wreath: if you can dispose of it properly after Christmas, then go ahead. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to get a reusable wreath. If you take care of it, they will last decades.
I’ve recently moved out with my boyfriend so I’ve been looking for my own Christmas decorations. The first thing I did was check out all our local charity shops to pick up some Christmas decorations.
Lots of items in charity shops are in perfect condition and the money goes to a good cause. They’re usually somewhat cheaper than brand new decor too so it’s a win-win. Plus, I feel like Christmas decorations these days are not built to last. My parents have had the same decorations for decades yet all the new things I’m seeing in stores seem so flimsy – even if it’s where they got theirs originally. Many things in charity shops have been loved for decades, and probably have a few more years in them!
Eco-Friendly Christmas Crackers
I love Christmas crackers so I won’t suggest scrapping this tradition. However, let’s face it; the items in them are usually junk – plus the broken cracker goes straight in the bin.
Thankfully, reusable Christmas crackers are growing in popularity. You can also find biodegradable ones in some stores which contain plastic-free gifts so that’s an option too.
Cut Down On Meat
If you plan on doing Veganuary after Christmas, then great! I’m not going to shove veganism at people but, cutting down on meat is a good way to go green. Meat has a pretty high carbon footprint.
Limit Single-Use Cutlery
You probably don’t have enough cutlery in your home to feed your entire extended family. Paper plates and cups are handy because they come in bulk and it saves you time washing up. However, it will save you money in the long run if you get some reusable cutlery; like plastic plates and cups.
After the holiday’s, you can just store them with your decorations. If you really can’t or don’t want to wash that many dishes, then there are some biodegradable options popping up – just make sure to put them in the compost bin.
Buy Local Food
Some things can’t be bought local but it’s good to try to buy local where possible. Local food doesn’t travel as far so it has a smaller carbon footprint. Plus, you’re supporting farmers and businesses in your area.
My local farmer’s market has all sorts of hand-made condiments and food.
Between cooking, powering Christmas lights and toys; Christmas takes up a lot of energy. Not everyone has renewable energy either.
When it comes to powering toys and Christmas lights, try to switch to reusable batteries. If you have regular batteries, by all means, use them up first. But, if you need new ones, rechargeable batteries might be the better choice.
Reusable batteries save on the amount of batteries that need to be produced. According to One Green Planet they also have:
- 12 times less impact on water pollution
- 28 times less impact on CO2 pollition
- 30 times less impact on air pollution
So there we have 11 tips on having an eco-friendly Christmas. Happy holidays!