8 Easy Ways To Unwrap An Eco-Friendly Christmas Season

Eucalyptus, holy, and pine branches

8 Tips To Have A More Eco-Friendly Christmas Season– Unwrap A Greener Holiday While Giving Back To Our Planet!

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

The holidays must be here – Bublé is stuck in your head and twinkling Christmas lights are starting to line the city streets. 

While Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year and special preparations are fully underway, it’s not the most wonderful time for our planet. During the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday season, Americans discard 25% more trash than at any other time of year. The increased waste amounts to 25 million tons or nearly 1 million additional tons per week – yikes! 

Everything, no matter how big or insignificant, can make a great difference during the holidays – from the Christmas tree you purchase to the delightful (and delicious) holiday food that you consume. No pressure.

Street lamp decorated with red Christmas bow and garland

Photo by Josh Harrison on Unsplash

There are countless ways we can all be a part of the movement to have a more eco-friendly Christmas, from what we eat to what we wear, how we gather together, and where we shop.

With this in mind, we rounded up 8 easy ways to have a greener and more sustainable Christmas season (without feeling like a party pooper)!

From eco-friendly Christmas decorations to budget-friendly gifts, there's something for everyone that doesn’t come at the expense of our planet. There are tons of fantastic options for maintaining the joy of Christmas and keeping the tradition alive without disrespecting Mother Nature and breaking the bank. 

8 Ways To Have A More Eco-Friendly Christmas

1. Rethink The Christmas Tree

Fallen Pine Branches Collected in Reusable Canvas Bag

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Planning on taking the whole family to the Christmas tree farm? Save yourself a trip and a headache! Turn your favorite houseplant into an eco-friendly Christmas tree by simply adding some cute LED Christmas lights. Once the Christmas season is over you still have your houseplant in case those nasty winter blues show up (*sigh*). If the houseplant Christmas tree idea isn’t for you, consider getting creative another way like with a DIY tree (This would be a fun project to do with kids). It’s as simple as gathering twigs and branches, assembling them into the shape of a tree, adorning it with LED lights and eco-friendly DIY ornaments – Say hello to a new family tradition! 

2. Give The Gift of Experiences — No Packaging Required

Bowls of chopped food spread out in front of cutting board with 2 people cutting up more veggies

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Gift an experience or a digital subscription — The ultimate eco-friendly Christmas gifts – no packaging needed! Limit your spending on material gifts by replacing them with experiences for your friends and family! How about tickets for a virtual sustainable cooking class? Withlocals is a fantastic option for anyone on your list allowing for proper social distancing and connecting you to locals around the globe all from the comfort of your home. Whatever you choose, there are a plethora of possibilities for gifting a memorable and festive holiday experience this season. For digital subscriptions – Magazines, newspapers, a National Park Service Annual Pass, the list goes on. Have a bookworm in your life? The Feminist Book Club is an online monthly book club that supports BIPOC writers and would make a perfect gift for any avid reader that you know. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong with a true zero waste present!

3. Zero Waste Christmas Tree Decorations 

diy paper ornaments folded into angel shapes

Photo by Uliana Kopanytsia on Unsplash

As fun and beautiful as traditional decorations can be, surprisingly, they leave a lot to be desired. Most traditional decorations are made out of plastic and made cheaply – designed to break every year so you need more. This Christmas, gather your family around and let the creative DIY juices flow as you start creating your own reusable decorations utilizing items from nature (feathers, cranberries, oranges, dried flowers, pinecones, cinnamon sticks). Think about reducing your carbon footprint by creating your own special ornaments. Bonus – you’ll be decorating your tree at little to no cost and most items will be compostable at the end of the holiday season. 

4. Think Twice About Wrapping Paper 

Hands holding stylish xmas gift wrapped in brown fabric on rustic wooden table with scissors, paper star, candle.

Giving and receiving a beautifully wrapped present is very lovely and exciting, but did you know that approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and that about 2.3 million pounds ends up in landfills. Why? Because foil and glitter are non-recyclable so it goes straight to the landfill. How about throwing a creative twist on wrapping this year? Utilizing items you have around the house such as fabric, newspaper, paper bags, natural winter materials (pinecones or evergreen sprigs), or check out our blog for more ideas! However, if your heart is set on purchasing gift wrap, opt for recycled wrapping paper whenever possible. 

5. Utilize LED Christmas Lights

Simple Light Display on front roof of an A Line house

Photo by Alex Robert on Unsplash

The most eco-friendly Christmas lights are the ones you already have at home! Consider donating or giving to a friend if you have an extra strand or two lying around. While Christmas lights are essential for festive vibes, they are one of the most environmentally unsustainable holiday traditions. But good news — LED lights consume 80-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last up to 100,000 hours, versus 3,000 hours for an incandescent. Bonus — if a singular LED light burns out, the remainder of that strand will remain illuminated, unlike traditional incandescent lights. Contemplating a large outdoor light display this season? A smaller light presentation is equally as beautiful and might just be the most suitable during this festive season of ‘giving back.’ A high electricity bill comes at the expense of our precious natural resources. Cutting back on your electricity bill is a fantastic way to ‘give back’ while preserving Mother Nature’s natural resources. 

6. Plantable Christmas Cards

Simple LighPlantable Seed Cards from Marissa Kay Apothecary - Etsyt Display on front roof of an A Line house

MarissaKayApothecary on Etsy

Each year, an estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold in the US, or enough to fill a football field 10 stories high – let that sink in for a second. So where do we go from here? One way is to Shop Plantable Seed Cards via Etsy (or DIY your own). A beautiful handmade gift that gives back to Mother Nature. Each eco-friendly Christmas card is embedded with beautiful wildflower seeds that can be easily planted. This perfect alternative is sure to plant a smile on anyone’s face. And don’t forget – you can always go digital and save yourself some money by not having to purchase postage stamps and paper. Paperless Post is a great option. They’ll arrive on time and eliminate added holiday stress. It also reduces your carbon footprint by negating the need for fuel to transport snail mail. Win Win Win.

7. Cut Back On Food Waste

Veggies in reusable produce bags

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Over 70 billion pounds of food waste reaches our landfills every year (in the US) and only becomes significantly worse during the holiday season as that number skyrockets by a whopping 25%. When shopping for that big holiday meal, remember to:

  • Plan, Plan, Plan
  • Shop Local
  • Cut Back on Meat
  • Utilize Your Reusable Bags
  • Select Lightly Packaged Items
  • Try To Do All Your Shopping At Once

If you have leftovers consider donating to your local food bank, sharing with friends and family, or head over to Pinterest to get creative with those leftovers. And don’t forget to compost the other waste such as food scraps. Recycling leftovers not only saves you money but also helps eliminate waste in the landfill!

8. Connect with nature

Bird sitting on bird feeder

Photo by Erin Minuskin on Unsplash

Oh the magical moments of spending countless hours with friends and family around the twinkling Christmas tree but let us not forget about the natural wonders right outside the door. Take a stroll around one of your local parks or head out to one of the magnificent U.S. State Parks near you. If leaving the house isn’t your jam, try decorating a tree for the birds right in your own backyard. Start simple by placing suet and peanut butter pinecones on a tree of your choice and then sit back and relax as you watch the birds enjoy a snack on those cold winter days. Head over to The Spruce to get started. What a wonderful time of the year to create a family tradition of giving back to the world and instilling sustainable living ideals in your children, friends, and those around you.

These are just a handful of ways we can all make the holidays a little greener — while still hoping for a White Christmas. Whether you’re looking for that perfect gift for your eco-friendly pal or something for yourself, everything at Zero Waste Store is shipped completely plastic-free in sustainable shipping options (such as recycled mailers, boxes, and fillers). Wishing you a very merry, eco-friendly Christmas — cheers to you and yours!

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