15 Best Ways to Celebrate a Sustainable Green Christmas This Year

Updated Oct. 22, 2021 |  Written by Alice Wang

christmas home

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way...” Like always, we are excited for the upcoming Christmas -- the gifts, the food, the parties, and of course the Christmas trees. Unintentionally but inevitably, we make Christmas a burden for our Earth. So how about we celebrate a sustainable, green Christmas this year? And next years...

On every Christmas, more than 2 billion cards are sent out in each country on average, and for every 10 million sent, nearly 3,000 10-year-old trees are cut down. More than 60,000 kilometers of ribbon were used. 8 million Christmas trees are cut down and thrown away. The wasted resource is enough for Santa to fly 64,500 times around the world on Christmas Eve.

Since Christmas is a holiday that’s all about giving, why don't we also think of giving back to the planet in simple but big ways, with only a little effort and some imagination. With family, friends, as well as the nature in mind, let’s make this year a “greener”, and the most eco-friendly Christmas. Here are great ideas to help celebrate Christmas environmentally friendly while still happily and money-saving.

1. Buy Less & Buy Used

shopping

This is perhaps the first thing to keep in mind if wishing to celebrate a green, sustainable Christmas. Before you shop for Christmas presents, decorations, food, please stop for a while and think, do I really need it? And have I already had one at home. While some of the items are for practical use, many are merely a form of gesture. So buy less and give more.

Also consider buying the used, such as the antique dishes, porcelain, the second-hand jewelry, clothes, Christmas tree lights... Reduce your carbon footprint and save money at the same time.

Don’t forget to bring your own reusable bags for Christmas shopping.

2. Consider the “Green” Items & Ways

recycle items

A green Christmas is part of the green life, thus support the sustainable economy and eco-friendly foods, products, and outfit, live sustainably. Replace your plastic kitchen cleaning items with the zero-waste brushes. Leave your car in the garage, ride a bike, and use the public transport go to the church, go shopping for Christmas, and visit family and friends. Instead of having a crazy party for Christmas, enjoy a peaceful walking trip with family and friends, closing to the nature, without costing the earth.

3. Rent A Christmas Tree

christmas tree

When looking for an eco-friendly Christmas tree, it is most recommended for us to rent one. There are many farms and gardens in your place that offer renting a real tree for Christmas. You can have it and decorate it with ornaments and lights for the tree during the Christmas season, and return it back to the farm or garden, so the tree will be replanted. A best idea for an eco-friendly Christmas tree makes win-win.

If you must buy one, make sure it is a real tree, rather than an artificial one. The real tree is more sustainable than the fake tree. According to the studies, you have to use your artificial, plastic trees for up to nine years and even more time to make it greener and have less environmental impact. Luckily that some local charity shops may accept the dumped artificial tree for resale on condition that they are in nice condition. However, most of them are simply abandoned in January rather than recycled.

One more thing, to reduce emissions, buy your Christmas tree from a local farm, garden or grower, and ensure the tree is sustainably cultivated. A eco-friendly choice for disposing your Christmas tree, check whether there are organizations in your area that can accept your tree and recycle it into pieces for local parks or other places.

4. Switch to LED Christmas lights

If you're decorating your Christmas tree with lights, use the LED lights, which can use up to 80% less energy than the traditional twinkling fluorescent bulbs. Turn off the lights when you are sleep or out of home. It is environmentally friendly, and will reduce your electric bill.

Resist extra lights. Consider turning off extra, expensive street lights and outdoor lights.

5. Use Zero-Waste Decorations

zero waste christmas decorations

How can’t we celebrate Christmas without decorations? Nevertheless, consider using natural and recycled decorations with environmentally friendly materials for your home and office. Here are some best eco-friendly Christmas decorations ideas for this year.

  • Minimalism helps to celebrate a greener Christmas.
  • Deck your sitting room, halls with sustainable materials, like cotton, silk or hemp to make bows.
  • It is also sustainable to collect pine cones, pine boughs, holly and mistletoe from the nature, and use them to decorate your home and Christmas tree.
  • Use fruits and berries instead of manufactured baubles, to add colour.
  • Together with kids, hand make your Christmas village, wreath, garland by using the recycled cardboard. Wine bottles are for great for candle-holders. This Christmas will also be a perfect time to help kids to live a green life.
  • Use soy or beeswax candle.
  • Re-use the family heirloom and the old Christmas cards.
  • Keep all the decorations to use again next year, make them sustainable.

6. Skip Disposables

zero waste christmas

Rather than using disposable cutlery, use your own dishes, cups, silverware and cloth napkins for Christmas party this year. Disposable cups, knives and forks are easier to be used and disposed at/after dinner, but they are mostly made of plastic and paper, the former is very difficult to recycle in the back-end processing, while the latter is a waste of resources of nature. For a green Christmas, it is more eco-friendly to use regular dishes and cutlery.

However, you will find the kitchen cleaning tasks are very tough after Christmas party. When it is time to clean the kitchen, you want a set of kitchen brushes, including dish brush, pot brush, handy for effective and effortless washing and cleaning.

7. Send Eco-friendly gifts for Christmas

eco friendly christmas ideas

How to have a greener Christmas? You need send green Christmas gifts. There are plenty of creative eco-friendly gifts ideas for Christmas, to satisfy different family members, even the picky ones.

  • DIY. Rather than buying gifts, make gifts yourself using recycled and sustainable materials. Try your hand at making a plate of sushi, a box of biscuits/chocolate, a calendar with family memories, Macrame for garlands or hangings, a knitted scarf… Let your creativity run wild and have fun with it.
  • Local handicrafts. To celebrate an eco-friendly Christmas, and help reduce greenhouse emissions and global warming partly caused by transportation, check out the local craft shops and artisan market, where there are many handmade gifts ideas, like the hand woven storage baskets, bags, hats, wooden jewel case, etc.
  • Ethical Gifting. You could go further to share your loved ones the conscious and sustainable Christmas gifts with fair trade logo, or from earth-friendly brands. Greenlivinglife is among these brands, and offer some best zero-waste Christmas gifts for her, wife, mother, or girlfriend -- the natural bristle long wooden shower brush, the natural wood handle hairbrush, etc.

8. Eco-friendly Christmas Wrapper Paper

Then there's the gift wrapping. It is encouraging that many of us have reused last year’s wrapping paper. If the gift must be wrapped in new paper, figure out first whether the paper is recyclable materials. Avoid using plastic, glossy foil or glitter paper, instead, use recycled paper or fabric (e.g. hemp, cotton).

If you're good at DIY, buy unwrapped Christmas gifts and wrap them yourself at home with the recycled shopping bags or brown kraft paper, spruce up the packaging with some paintings, pine boughs, or some veggie decorations, making it one of the most wanted gifts!

9. Eco-friendly Christmas Cards

christmas card

Another great way to celebrate eco-friendly Christmas is to send a cost-free Christmas card. The fancy Christmas cards at store consume natural resources in quantity, and most of the cards are relentlessly thrown away after the holiday.

Since you’ve crafted your own Christmas gifts and wrapping, you can also make Christmas cards at home with recycles. Last year’s calendar, children’s art work, and the carboard you collect are all excellent recourses for making Christmas cards. Give full play to your creativity and beautifully design the cards. They may not be as professional and fancy as the store-bought cards, but more personal, meaningful, and much appreciated.

10. Reduce Food Waste

When it comes to celebrate a zero-waste Christmas, we should also be a little less wasteful on food.

One good way, buy the right amount, buy more veggie and less meat. Estimate how much food and drinks needed for your Christmas party, based on the number of the guests. You may want to know that the turkey has a lower carbon footprint than beef, and the veggie has the lowest carbon footprint.
Eat up the leftover if possible. If not, check the food waste app, like Olio, which can help give the scraps to those in need in your area.

With less food is wasted, less rubbish will be produced.

11. Rethink your Christmas Outfit

Christmas is here and, you can’t stop thinking your outfit for the parties. The bling-bling sequins are gorgeous and tempting you. But you have enough willpower to resist them, as you know they are non-biodegradable. Replace with sustainable materials like cotton, hemp or silk, which are actually more comfortable to wear. And with a beautiful design, the outfit can make you also very attractive.

12. Eco-friendly Way of Travel

Christmas holiday is a time for traveling. Even if you’re not traveling to another country, you are quite likely to travel across the country, or at least the surrounding areas, and that inevitably adds greenhouse gas and increases the carbon footprint.

So it is suggested that 1) avoid air travel if you can. 2) share a car or take public transport. These can help not only save energy (and money), but also reduce traffic on roads.

13. How about a Nature Hike?

eco friendly hiking

A hike to the nature is another great idea for an eco-friendly, green Christmas. A walking trip gathers the whole family, to connect with the nature. When you walk across the forests, try to identify every tree and plant, name the birds you see, and count the number. If you wish, make records, list all the plants and birds, and have a research afterwards. It is a best way to introduce your children the friends in nature, and the values of sustainable living and green life.

A cost-free, earth-friendly, family nature hike is the effort you make to improve your environment and your state of mind.

14. Donate Gifts and Clothes

Let’s say that you received an unwanted gift last year, you keep it, but put aside, and never use it. Now think of it, there’s possibly someone else around you who likes it and needs it. So this year, while you are receiving new gifts, go through your closet and wardrobe to sort out the unwanted gifts, as well as the old clothes, and items that you won’t use, and donate them to local charities. During this cold winter, your unwanted coat will may help a homeless.

In return you have spare room at closet, available for more important items. And you feel less troubled when next time you need find something. See, that’s the beauty of a simple green life.

15. Reuse and Recycle Everything

Each year, millions of Christmas trees, and millions of tons of rubbish generated from the holiday go to the landfill after Christmas. They are huge environmental costs, yet can be reduced if we can reuse or recycle.

Save the gift-wrapping such as ribbons and bows, which can be reused for almost every holiday. Open the carboard boxes flat, send out for recycling, given that you are not likely have them for next Christmas. The replaced cell phones, computers, laptops, and other electronic items can also be recycled. While the real Christmas trees are useful materials for composting in the park or wood farm, the artificial trees can be used next year, or many parts of it can be recycled by the local recycling centers.

Lastly, wish all you a merry Christmas!

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