Our Top Five Sustainable Christmas Tips
For lots of people, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year – seeing friends and family and indulging in lots of amazing food and sprawling out on the lawn in the sunshine or under the shade of a pohutukawa tree. And most of the time, we’re having far too much fun to think about the impact we’re having on the planet.
During the festive season, we generate around 30% more waste compared to the rest of the year, and spend a staggering $6 billion on Christmas shopping and gifts. Plus, there’s a huge increase in the amount of packaging we use as well as the food we eat.
But it’s easier than ever to make your Christmas more environmentally sustainable – and with our five top tips, you’ll have no excuse not to have yourself an eco-friendly little Christmas.
1. Consider your Christmas tree
When it comes to your tree, the most important things to think about are where it comes from, and how and when you’re going to get rid of it. If you’re after an artificial tree, you’ll need to use it for around nine years for it to have the same impact as getting a real tree each year – but if you’re going for the real deal, try and get one with with roots so you can replant it, or get an FSC one that you can have chipped after Christmas to use as compost. Whatever you do, don’t drive for miles to get it as this can have more impact than the tree itself!
You could also consider an eco-friendly tree – Etsy has lots of amazing alternatives like stickers and fabric wall hangings – plus don’t forget to check out Pinterest for lots of beautiful DIY inspiration.
For our full list of Christmas tree tips, check out our post on Mind Body Green.
2. Use sustainable decorations
On average, Christmas lights are left on for 10 hours a day, producing enough CO2 to fill five balloons – so make sure your lights are LEDs! If you’re looking to light up the outside of your home too, try using solar options to save even more energy.
When it comes to decorating your home and your tree, repurpose what you already have – but if you’re after something new, avoid buying anything plastic. Try using natural decorations, like pine cones, fruit and cinnamon sticks. You could even get creative with a bit of baking or DIY – take a look at Pebble Magazine for lots of beautiful ideas you can try yourself at home.
3. Give zero-waste, ethical and eco-friendly presents (and ones they actually want)
Giving someone an experience (like tickets to a show or concert) rather than a physical gift can be a great way to show you really know them, and you’ll be able to make some amazing memories together.
There’s also plenty of zero-waste and ethical gift guides out there this year, so you’ll be full of ideas for years to come. Eco Warrior Princess has lots of ideas for giving reusable and biodegradable gifts, plus make sure you check out 12 Simple and Meaningful Holiday Gift Ideas from A Rose Colored World. If this isn’t quite enough, Zero Waste Nerd has 101 Zero-Waste Gift Ideas for you to chose from. You could pop your presents and homemade goodies into a beautiful hamper or box that your loved ones can use again and again.
To avoid wasting your precious pennies buying unwanted gifts, you and your family and friends could also try doing Secret Santa, or sharing your list of gifts you actually want and need.
4. Use eco-friendly wrapping paper and cards – and reduce, reuse, recycle!
Why not consider sending e-cards this Christmas instead? It’s much faster and cheaper, and doesn’t harm any trees in the process. You could also consider purchasing recycled paper – Green Elephant have some beautiful FSC certified and NZ made wrapping paper on offer, as well as some gorgeous reusable fabric wrap. If you’re after something to keep the kids busy, get creative with some plain recycled paper from Warehouse stationary and make your own unique prints. Or just keep your wrapping simple and add some string or ribbon and a sprig of rosemary. If you want to try something a bit different this year, you could wrap gifts in fabric cloth, like traditional Japanese furoshiki – your gifts will look beautiful, and you can use your cloths over and over.
Whatever you chose, make sure you reuse or recycle your wrapping. To check if your paper is recyclable, just scrunch it into a ball – if it holds this shape then you can pop it into the recycling bin.
5. Cut down on meat (and food in general)
The meat and dairy industry is responsible for more emissions than all the world’s planes, trains, cars and boats put together, so try eating less meat this Christmas to help reduce the impact of your festive feast. As Christmas Day falls on a Monday, go completely vegetarian or vegan for the day for #MeatlessMonday – and try out some new delicious recipes. If you’re already following a plant based diet, encourage your friends and family to join you for the day – and if you’d like help or advice, the NZ vegetarian society has some tips on being vegan or vegetarian at Christmas, with information on what to avoid.
More food goes to waste at Christmas than during any other time of year. If you’re hosting this year, try and cut back on the amount of food you buy – and always buy local and organic if you can. Watch your waste (and your waist) this festive season, and serve food on platters and bowls, so people can serve themselves – leaving you with more leftovers and less plate waste. Check out Love Food Hate Waste‘s tips on what to do with your festive food post Christmas Day.
The Good Life Company is a sustainable living blog sharing tips and advice on how to live a more sustainable life – with a focus on on eco and ethical travel, vegan and vegetarian recipes and eco-friendly products.
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