Eco-friendly Christmas ideas: how to have a green Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching, and many of us are already preparing for this year's festive season. While Christmas can be the most festive and joyful season of the year, it is also the time of year when we consume the most. Looking to make your Christmas a more sustainable one? Check out these eco-friendly tips to make this year a green Christmas.
Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas
During the holidays, we buy plenty of food, gifts, and decorations to make it a special experience for friends and family. However, we often forget what impact our festivities may have on the environment. Around 5 million extra tons of waste is produced during the holiday season in the United States alone (All Things Supply Chain). Why not do things a little differently this year with some eco-friendly christmas ideas to turn your holiday into a green christmas!
For our little ones, Christmas is a magical time of year when Santa comes bearing gifts. These gifts are often wrapped in fun and festive wrapping paper that looks great underneath the tree. While this paper looks wonderful, it is quickly ripped apart by excited hands and tossed away.
To give you an idea, around 4 million tons of waste is produced during the holidays from gift wrappings alone (All Things Supply Chain). Overconsumption is a serious problem around the world, so we should also consider where and how we acquire gifts for our family and friends. Take a look at these ideas to make gift giving more sustainable this Christmas season.
Shopping for gifts
The first part of gift giving is finding the perfect gifts for everyone. Whether you’re a planner or a last minute shopper, there is no need to rush when finding gifts for everyone. This year, let’s try to be conscientious about how we consume, and think about the impact these products may have. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff that’s short lived or trendy, try looking for one gift that is long-lasting and meaningful. It’s important to think about where things come from, and whether or not the things we give are truly needed.
Second hand shopping and thrifting has become very popular in recent years, and is a great way to live more sustainably. If you’re lucky, sometimes you can even find toys that are still in their boxes. Another great way to shop more sustainably is by shopping locally. Visiting local shops for locally sourced products and handmade gifts is a great option to support your community and find gifts that were produced more sustainably. Finally, try to be intentional about what you purchase, and make sure these gifts will be loved for years to come.
Wrapping your gifts
The second (and always more fun) part of gift giving is wrapping your gifts. Many of us already reuse wrapping paper and gift bags from previous years. But do we really know if they can be recycled once we’re done with them? If you are purchasing new wrapping paper, make sure that it is 100% recyclable, and that the paper is recycled properly when it’s finished with. Another great option is to source organic wrapping products, such as brown paper, biodegradable paper, organic fabric, jute, or reusable gift bags and boxes. Whatever you choose, you’ll feel good knowing your gift wrappings are eco-friendly!
Let's talk Dinner! Christmas dinner is the main event on Christmas day for most of us (after Santa's arrival of course). While we all want to enjoy our meal, it is important to remember to make it enjoyable for our planet also and be as eco-friendly as possible.
On average, we throw away 18% of the food we purchase. This food waste causes 8% of global warming. The packaging on our food also creates a huge issue, as it produces 15% more CO2 than the food itself (LoveFoodHateWaste).
Make a shopping list
The first thing that can be done to help reduce waste is to carefully plan out shopping lists. Only buy what is needed and try to avoid buying unnecessary extras. If you decide to buy extras, buy them tinned or frozen so they have a longer shelf life and don’t have to be used right away.
Use your leftovers
Leftovers can be turned into all new dishes to be enjoyed for the days after. For example, turn your leftover vegetables into soup or turn your leftover turkey into yummy sandwiches. Any leftovers you don’t plan to use, freeze them. It is a good idea to clear out space in your freezer prior to Christmas so you have space to store any leftovers. Seal the leftovers and label them and you’re good to go! It is important to note that any cooked meat should only be frozen and unfrozen once.
Last but definitely not the least, the next thing you can do to be more ecologically friendly with your Christmas dinner this year is to shop local where possible. This goes from your veggies to your meat!
When you shop local, it means fewer food miles or use of artificial ripening methods. Buying meat from a local farmer also usually means the animals have been treated nicer and have lived a better life. Investing in getting an organic turkey means you are not only helping the environment, but you are also getting a tastier product!
Shopping locally also means you can walk or bike to your destination if you are able. We understand that shopping can be heavy and you may not be able to travel long distances by foot with it, so you can also carpool with friends, family or neighbors.
The Christmas tree
Now for the much anticipated Christmas tree! This is always an exciting time for kids when the tree is up and decorated. But, have you ever stopped to think about the most sustainable option for your christmas tree? While there are benefits to avoiding plastic and opting for the natural option, there are things to consider to make sure we make the most low-impact decisions.
The plastic tree debate
If your family already has a plastic tree, make sure it is used for 10 years minimum (WWF). Unfortunately, many plastic trees are made with PVC, which is difficult to properly dispose of (Greenpeace Canada). If you’re in the market for a new tree, consider your options before buying a fake tree, as plastic production is quite detrimental to the environment.
Finding an eco-friendly tree
If you prefer to have a real tree, there are things you need to keep in mind to make this a truly green christmas! If you plan on cutting down your own tree, make sure to consult the regulations in your area and that you have a proper permit. In addition, make sure you are not disturbing any wildlife in the process.
If you plan on visiting a christmas tree farm, make sure the producer is providing trees that are FSC-certified, which means the trees are grown responsibly. Not only this, it’s important to know whether the farm uses any pesticides. Christmas tree farms also result in a loss of biodiversity due to monocropping.
For these reasons, make sure to do your research on the sustainability practices of Christmas tree farms near you (such as replanting or potted trees) before picking your tree this year. For more information about disposing of your tree sustainably after the holidays, visit (Greenpeace UK).
Eco-friendly christmas decorations
Being eco-friendly at Christmas time doesn’t mean you have to be a DIY expert, it can be much simpler than this. The first thing you can do is reuse previous decorations you may have! Most people forget about how many decorations they actually own and what they look like. Go dig through your attic and see what you already have.
Second-hand stores are also a great place to shop for decorations also. This way you are being eco-friendly and also managing to save yourself some money while you’re at it!
To decorate your table, you can use nature! Go outdoors and find some fallen leaves. Pair the leaves with a candle and you have a stunning, sustainable table setting. Simpy compost the leaves once you are done.
As for lightning up your home, switch to LED lights. LED lights use up to 80% less electricity so are much less harsh on the environment.
For some additional touches, you can get creative! Try to make some zero waste garlands. You can do this by drying out citrus fruits or using popcorn, and attaching them to a string. Once you're done, hang them up on your walls, ceilings, or even use them as an additional decoration on your christmas tree. They make for a fun eco-friendly and festive decoration for your home!
Being eco-friendly this Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive or any additional work to other years, it just involves thinking outside the box and making more conscious decisions.
Looking for some fun Christmas activities for your family to try this year? Check out these DIYs, recipes and activities for children on Christmas.