Having a sustainable Christmas is easier than you might think and still just as fun.
All it requires are a few tweaks to your Christmas routine.
From what you eat to where you shop and what eco-friendly gifts you buy, there are so many ways to have a positive impact on the planet and celebrate the season to its fullest.
First, what is a sustainable Christmas?
Christmas is the most wasteful time of year.
The UK alone produces an additional 3 million tonnes of Christmas waste in comparison to the rest of the year. That’s about 100 million bin bags being sent to landfill, contributing to pollution and global warming.
A sustainable Christmas aims to counteract this. It’s a holiday celebration that minimizes its impact on climate change and promotes ethical, eco-friendly practices—like throwing a festive party for the planet!
When it comes to tips for a sustainable Christmas, we’re looking beyond the usual.
Christmas is a time of year that brings great joy but also a lot of consumerism, so it’s time to think more creatively about how to have a more sustainable Christmas than simply buying a few environmentally friendly Christmas cards and decorations then calling it a day.
If you can put just one of these sustainable Christmas ideas into practice, that’s great. But if you can check off a number of these eco-friendly Christmas tips, even better!
Our Curated List For How To Have A (More) Sustainable Christmas
1. Christmas Gifting
According to Finder, an estimated 21 million British adults receive Christmas gifts they don’t want. It’s time we did something about this.
From ethical presents your loved ones will love to recycled wrapping paper ideas and gift wrap alternatives, here are some top tips for how to have a green Christmas while still giving people something they’ll love.
Avoid Single-Use Plastic
One of the simplest ways to have an ethical and sustainable Christmas is to avoid single use plastics when you shop.
Instead, shop for ideally reusable gifts that are also free of single use plastic, opting for products made from biodegradable or recyclable materials.
Go Fairtrade & Ethical
Choose Fairtrade and ethically made gifts that give back to communities and the local economy. You’re also standing up for fair wages and fair treatment of workers throughout the supply chain.
Make Sustainable DIY Christmas Gifts
Getting crafty with sustainable DIY Christmas gifts is a win-win for both your creativity and the planet. When you make your own gifts, you have the power to choose eco-friendly materials, repurpose items, and personalize each present with a touch of love.
DIY gifts make for some of the most sustainable Christmas presents out there, because you sidestep the environmental impact associated with mass-produced goods.
Plus, homemade gifts often carry a unique charm and thoughtfulness that store-bought ones might lack.
Choose Sustainable Christmas Stocking Fillers
Traditional stocking stuffers often come with excessive packaging and contribute to single-use plastic waste.
Opting for sustainable stocking stuffer alternatives, such as bamboo toothbrushes, reusable snack bags, or biodegradable beauty products, not only reduces the environmental footprint but also promotes conscious consumer choices.
Small swaps like this make for relatively simple tips for an eco-friendly Christmas, but they really go a long way.
2. Christmas Decor
Christmas is such a fun excuse to get creative with decorations.
If you’re looking into how to do a zero waste Christmas and want to move away from plastic decorations or mass-made tack, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite eco Christmas decor tips.
From making your own decorations (like origami stars and popcorn garland), to browsing the Christmas decorations on offer at your local thrift store and choosing the likes of eco-friendly Advent calendars, these tips should set you on the right path.
If more people approach decorating their home for the festive period in this way, it can go a long way toward making an environmentally sustainable Christmas the norm for families across the nation.
Let’s make natural and ethical Christmas decor the standard choice!
Go For Real Christmas Trees
The Christmas tree is, arguably, the main attraction of all Christmas decorations, but not all Christmas trees are created equal.
Choosing a real sustainable Christmas tree over plastic trees is on the first page of the pebblemag How to Have a Green Christmas Playbook.
A 6.5ft artificial Christmas tree has a carbon footprint of about 40 kg of greenhouse gas emissions, and it can’t be recycled.
A real tree (ideally a potted Christmas tree) is almost always better, down to the fact that buying from tree farms means you’re supporting local businesses. Plus, a potted tree then gets to live on and keep doing their carbon sequestering duty.
Decorate Christmas Trees With Conscious Christmas Ornaments
Ditching your plastic Christmas tree is a start, but then it’s time to decorate your real tree in a better way.
Certain Christmas decorations can have a surprisingly large impact on your carbon footprint. Regular ornaments can be harsh on the planet with all the resource-guzzling and waste they create.
In contrast, sustainable Christmas ornaments are often made from recycled materials like glass or wood, which means fewer new materials and a smaller carbon footprint.
Pick greener options like these and give your tree a makeover while being planet-friendly.
Choose An Eco-Friendly Wreath
If you’re buying a Christmas wreath, the best way to make sure it’s sustainable is to ask about the provenance of the wood and check that all the other materials used are eco-friendly and plastic free.
Or, if you’re feeling crafty, here are a few sustainable Christmas wreath ideas to get you started.
Opt For Sustainable Christmas Lights
Buying a fake Christmas tree with in-built lights or a cheap plastic tree draped with cheap lights from any online drop shipper is one of the worst offenses any environmentally conscious person can commit at Christmas.
Instead, opting for eco lights is a bright idea for several reasons. Unlike traditional incandescent lights, sustainable options, such as LED lights, are energy-efficient, consuming significantly less electricity and lasting much longer.
This not only reduces your energy bill but also minimizes the environmental impact associated with energy production
Avoid Plastic Decorations
For anyone living a zero waste lifestyle, an equally zero waste holiday means avoiding plastic decorations like tinsel, baubles, and glitter.
You may intend to use them every year, but once they break, they can’t be recycled.
Glitter also contains microplastics that infiltrate waterways and harm aquatic life. In contrast, sustainable ornaments are often made from recycled materials like glass or wood, which means fewer new materials and a smaller carbon footprint.
So while you should keep using any plastic decorations you already own for as long as possible, when replacing them or adding to your festive collection, go for natural materials over plastic every time.
DIY Your Own Christmas Decorations
Making your own DIY Christmas decorations is one of the best DIY environmentally friendly Christmas ideas for those on a budget.
It’s an inexpensive way to celebrate the festive season. You could make decor, wreaths, or even put up the cards you receive on a display or make a garland with them.
It’s an easy and fun way to make more eco-friendly Christmas cards out of those given to you.
Use Eco-friendly Gift Wrap
Choosing eco-friendly Christmas wrapping is a simple yet impactful way to make a positive difference during the holiday season. Traditional wrapping paper often contributes to excessive waste and environmental harm (and it often can’t be recycled!).
Wrapping gifts using alternative Christmas wrapping ideas like repurposing newspaper, using reusable bags or fabric wraps, or repurposing gift bags not only reduces the ecological footprint but also adds a personal touch to gift-giving.
3. Table Decorations
Picking ethical and sustainable table decor is a smart move for anyone wondering, “How do you celebrate eco-friendly Christmas?”
After all, the dinner table is a core part of any festive celebration.
It’s all about making choices that are kind to the planet, minimizing waste, and creating a festive vibe that’s as eco-friendly as it is fun.
Crafting your own decorations from sustainable materials is also a fantastic way to embrace a more eco-friendly festive season.
Choose Eco-friendly Christmas Crackers
What is an eco-friendly Christmas without our favorite celebratory noisemakers?
This year, ditch single-use crackers with disappointing plastic toys. Instead, fill your own eco-friendly Christmas crackers.
Refillable and reusable crackers are a great investment for future eco-friendly Christmas celebrations, too.
Craft Natural Place Settings
This Christmas, set your table using natural, foraged items, for a back-to-nature, low waste vibe. Crafting your own table decor allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature without contributing to excess waste or relying on materials that may harm the environment.
Plus, these homemade decorations can be composted or reused, promoting a cycle of sustainability.
There are so many amazing colors around every winter, why shop for something plastic or single use, when you can find such beautiful things in nature?
It’s a simple and enjoyable way to reduce your ecological footprint during the festive season, making your holiday table both stylish and environmentally friendly.
Make A Natural Centerpiece
Make your Christmas table stand out with a natural centerpiece.
By foraging for items like seasonal greenery, you not only infuse your table with a rustic and charming aesthetic, but also sidestep the environmental impact of store-bought decorations
Twigs, pine cones, berries, holly, cedar branches, and dried flowers can either be laid out on the table or layered with other festive ornaments.
4. Christmas Snacks
Any Christmas needs delicious food, but we’d prefer ours without a heaping plate of negative environmental impacts.
Making your own Christmas snacks is a tasty way to celebrate the season while being mindful of our ecological impact—and they’re always a perfect fail-safe gift if you forgot someone or just don’t know what to get them.
By choosing locally sourced, organic ingredients and avoiding excessive packaging, homemade snacks contribute to a more sustainable food culture.
Or, if you’re not exactly a kitchen whizz, there’s no shame in buying some ethical snacks to have on hand.
Make Your Own Sweet Treats
Have a sweet tooth?
Indulging in sweet treats is a Christmas must, and making your own adds a delicious touch to an eco-friendly celebration, reducing packaging waste and promoting mindful consumption.
Get in the festive spirit with these super cute melted snowmen shortbreads.
Feast On Vegan Snacks
Add an ethical and vegan twist to some of your favorite snacks in the cupboards this Christmas.
Stock Up On Ethical Chocolate
If it’s not Christmas without too much chocolate in your household, why not stock up on ethically sourced treats this year?
By buying from ethical chocolate brands, you don’t need to choose between your sweet tooth and your sustainable buying habits.
5. Christmas Dinner
Snacks are one thing, but Christmas dinner is the star of the show. It’s also where you can make the most impact on an eco-friendly Christmas.
Food waste is a real problem in the UKDid you know that during the Christmas season alone, almost 270,000 tons of food is wasted, and a lot of it is still edible.
Planning ahead to reduce food waste over the festive season, cutting back on meat and dairy, and getting out of your comfort zone are all things you can try.
Christmas is an excellent time to celebrate seasonal food, which means fewer air miles, too.
Buying seasonal produce is one of the simplest but most effective Christmas shopping tips, and it’ll make your Christmas dinner more exciting and flavorful, too.
This interactive seasonal food map launched by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) can help you plan your menu accordingly.
Have A Plant-Based Christmas Dinner
If you want to keep up with the spirit of the season, going for some plant-based options is a simple way to do something sustainable for the planet and its inhabitants.
Check out our guide on how to make a vegan Christmas dinner that won’t disappoint.
Try Something Different
Want to be ethical but keep to tradition?
Tofurkey is the perfect plant-based swap if you’re staying close to meaty traditions.
Plan ahead for the festive season so you don’t overbuy. Consider the number of people attending and go from there.
Try not to buy extra just in case. If you do want to have an emergency reserve, buy items with a long shelf life or that can be frozen.
Make A Shopping List
Before you step foot in a supermarket, write down everything you need for all your menus and other snacks and nibbles. Then when it’s time to do the ‘Big Shop’ stick to your list.
Be aware of the use by dates of the food you’re buying so you know when it all needs eating by.
Try Not To Overcook
Every year in the UK, approximately seven million tonnes of food is wasted. Think about how much your guests and family are likely to eat in a sitting, and cook only that amount.
It will take less time for you to prepare and you’ll have fewer leftovers to contend with—not to mention less temptation to overeat. Have a Christmas feast without the food waste and indigestion!
Besides, that way, you’ll have more room for cookies.
6. Christmas Drinks
Opting for more sustainable alcohol choices is a fantastic way to toast to the holidays while caring for the planet.
From locally-brewed beers to making your own tipple, embracing these sustainable alternatives ensures that your Christmas celebrations are not only awesome but also leave a positive impact on the environment.
These tips make every sip a toast to a greener holiday season.
Sip On Craft Spirits
Forget the standard G&T or a bit of supermarket fizz, why not up the ante this year and try one of these unique and seasonal Christmas cocktail recipes, all made with craft spirits from sustainable distilleries.
Order Up Craft Cocktails To Home
You could order in some sustainable booze using a service like Drinks Drop, and have cocktails to your door within 24 hours.
Plus, you don’t have to mix a thing and all cocktails come in glass bottles or recyclable pouches.
We wouldn’t recommend making this a regular thing, but if you’re replacing multiple trips to the grocery store or off-license this Christmas, then this can be a more sustainable option for sure.
Make Zero Waste Cocktails
Celebrate the festive season with zero waste cocktails. Cut up the rind from juiced limes and throw them in a jar with vodka. After one to two weeks, you’ll have lime infused vodka.
You can then use those rinds for lime syrup. Instead of fresh garnishes, why not dehydrate fruit and make them easier to keep, too?
Try Going Alcohol-free
Opting for an alcohol-free Christmas is a greener choice, as it significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with traditional alcohol production, transportation, and packaging waste.
Going alcohol-free not only benefits the planet but also promotes a healthier and more sustainable celebration, aligning with eco-conscious choices for a festive and mindful holiday season.
Plus, there are some nice non-alcoholic alternatives from sustainable brands out there, like Freestar’s alcohol-free beer, which uses 80% less water and generates 70% less waste. Worth a try.
Closing Thoughts On Sustainable Christmas Ideas
So what are the tips for an eco-friendly Christmas?
Honestly, living sustainably around the festive period is all about being more mindful of your purchases and your consumer behavior.
Instead of buying things you don’t really need, opt for reusable, quality items. When you whip up Christmas treats, choose sustainable ingredients.
Try some eco-friendly Christmas craft ideas instead of buying decor that won’t make it through the year. Try recycled paper for wrapping. Dare to be different with your Christmas dinner.
Each time you make a more sustainable choice, you’re not just celebrating; you’re making a real difference. It’s like giving the planet a little holiday hug.
So, let’s keep it green this year, have a very merry Christmas, share this article, and encourage each other to put some of these sustainable Christmas ideas into practice.