Our eco-friendly, sustainable Christmas tips will help you reduce the impact on the environment you’re making this Christmas
Whether you're an experienced eco-warrior on the lookout for new Christmas tips, or are just starting out with living sustainability, our handy tips will help you to have the most eco-friendly, sustainable Christmas yet. Christmas is a time for celebrations but we also need to take some responsibility for the waste we’re creating and the impact we’re making on the environment.
Our green, sustainable tips will help you reduce waste, make planet-friendly choices and empower you to make positive changes this Christmas. Do you have more ideas for an eco-friendly Christmas? Leave a comment below, we'd love to hear them.
1. Think ‘green’ when choosing a tree
When it comes to Christmas trees, there has been an ongoing debate dividing the nation on whether to buy and artificial or real Christmas tree. So, how to shop wisely? Most Christmas trees sold here in Australia are plantation grown under sustainable forestry systems. They help act as a filter to clean the air before being cut down for the festive season. Have a look for organic or seasonal tree farms or look for live trees, which still have the roots attached.
The great thing about live trees is that they can be transplanted after Christmas is over. Look out for FSC Certification as only this will confirm that your tree has been sourced sustainably. And if you prefer buying an organic Christmas tree, it's worth checking for Soil Association. Once Christmas is over you can recycle your Christmas tree by taking it to the local tip. This will help reduce the production of greenhouse gases, which contributes to climate change.
You can also keep an eye out for local council recycling schemes. If you do prefer an artificial tree, see if you can find one up second-hand on eBay, Gumtree or the Facebook Marketplace. This is a much better option than buying a one new. What if you still prefer to buy new? Make sure you buy an artificial Christmas tree that will last a lifetime, not a cheap one you'll have to replace quickly.
2. Use Christmas decorations that will last a lifetime
The best Christmas decorations are those that have been kept in the family to reuse them year after year – making them instantly sustainable. Decorations made from recycled wood, fabric and glass make great alternatives to plastic or PVC options that are non-recyclable.
When choosing decorations, opt for classic designs that will be loved and used for years, as opposed to trendy pieces that you'll be tired of by next Christmas.
3. Support local or Fairtrade Christmas gifts
While it's tempting for many to go overboard when it comes to Christmas gifts, it's worth resisting if you want to be more conscious of your impact on the environment and how ethically your gifts were made.
Buying locally means you are reducing emissions as a result of increased road and air freight but you are also supporting small local businesses. Secret Santa is a great alternative to the usual gift exchange with family and friends as it will allow you to invest more money into a single gift rather than buying lots of little things that may end up in landfill.
Service-based gifts such as vouchers for a massage, facial or beauty treatment are not only a great way to reduce the impact on the planet but also a very thoughtful choice as most women don’t tend to treat themselves to something so well deserved as some quality pampering time.
If you know someone who lives in Hobart, our favourite beauty salon is Above & Begone Beauty, be sure to take a look at their services for some gift inspiration.
4. Rethink Christmas wrapping
Now that you have your Christmas gifts sorted, it's time to think about eco-conscious gift wrapping. Here are our favourite gift wrap ideas: Reuse gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper and ribbon kept from last Christmas. If you didn't save any in the past, make a point to do it this year. You can use a gorgeous fabric scarf to wrap your gifts in – the recipient will love you for the 2-in-1 present.
Op shops or second hand stores are a great place to shop for them. Use brown paper or even old newspaper to wrap gifts for a different twist on Christmas gift wrap, tie everything together with twine or raffia and spruce it up with pine tree sprigs or Rosemary for a pretty and fragrant finish.
If you buy wrapping paper this year, be conscious of choosing something free of foil or glitter as these cannot be recycled. And make sure that any paper your recycle has the plastic sticky tape removed.
5. Plan your Christmas meals to avoid food waste
Unsurprisingly, a staggering amount of food is wasted every Christmas as hosts tend to over-cater for their guests. While having not enough food is many people's idea of a Christmas nightmare, making a list and then sticking to it is an absolute must before going shopping at the supermarket if you want to avoid panic buying and the waste it may incur.
If you do end up with leftovers, or begin to notice food going off before you get the chance to eat it, think before throwing it in the bin. Using leftover food on Boxing Day is a great option to reduce food waste. You can also turn leftovers into a soup that can be frozen for a later date, or make a creamy Mac ‘n Cheese with your cheeseboard leftovers.
6. Source your food locally
If you choose to source your meat locally you will not only support your local butcher but also local farms. The food will not only taste better and fresher you also really help to support small businesses. When opting for organic, locally sourced meat and vegetables, it’s the best way to ensure that potentially harmful pesticides haven't been used on the farm.
When we buy our Christmas ham, we know exactly from which farm the high quality, tasty hams are coming from and we look forward to it every year. Take a look online to find a local farmers' market close to your home. If you do your shopping in a supermarket try to avoid plastic packaging where possible. Buying loose vegetable is a great starting point.
7. Reusable shopping bags are a must
Another great way to reduce your plastic consumption, are reusable shopping bags so be sure to come prepared and bring plenty with you when you do all your Christmas shopping, not just the groceries but also your Christmas gift shopping too.
8. Opt for healthier candles
Candles are a big part of Christmas and whether you enjoy them as part of advent or simply to make a room feel cosy, it's worth thinking not just about their impact on pollution but also your health. Rather than paraffin-based candles, we suggest switching to those made from soy, beeswax or coconut wax. We love the beautiful, Tasmanian made candles from Ollie & Ava.
9. Sending lots of Christmas cards?
Avoiding to send physical Christmas cards is another simple option for reducing not only waste but also CO2 emissions (think trucks delivering mail). You can opt for an e-card, write an email or give someone a call instead if getting in touch with family and friends is important to you over the Christmas period.
Still want to write physical cards? Charity gift cards are a great way to give back. Do you receive many Christmas cards? There are plenty of options for reusing and recycling them. Cut off the front of a card for use as a postcard, gift tag or even Christmas decoration next year.
10. Avoid disposable cutlery and crockery
If you’re hosting a lot of family and friends over Christmas, it seems like an easy solution to buy disposable cutlery and crockery. After all, it even saves you time in the kitchen, not having to do many dishes. However, many of these single use plastic items are non-recyclable and go straight to landfill.
If you don’t have enough cutlery, crockery and glasses, an easy alternative is asking your family members to bring along some of their plates, cups or cutlery that can be washed and returned to them. Yes, it does take some time to get through all the extra dishes but the environment will thank you for it.
11. Reusable advents calendars
For many children, adults and even pets, advent calendars make up a big part of the excitement leading up to Christmas. But being more eco-conscious doesn't mean you have to sacrifice this tradition. Rather than buying a chocolate calendar at the supermarket, why not consider making your own?
Simply invest in a reusable calendar and fill it with your choice of treats. The beauty of making your own advents calendar is that they can be filled with whatever your heart desires: cheese, mini spirits, fruit, Lego, soap, the choice is yours.
We also love the idea of slipping in a few IOUs if you want to incorporate experiences into the Christmas countdown.
12. Consider your Christmas lighting
LED lights are much more environmentally-friendly than traditional lights, because they use around 80% less energy.
It will make no difference to your experience of Christmas, but a huge difference to the amount of energy used during the festive season. And using less energy also means you are paying less on your electricity bill – it’s a win win!
13. DIY Christmas wreath
You don’t have to be very creative to make your own Christmas wreath. Simply pick up some fallen sprigs of greenery from your garden or local park – holly, pine and eucalyptus are great examples. It doesn't cost a cent and makes for a fun and festive afternoon.
Ditch the plastic wreaths in exchange for the real thing as they are much better for the environment. Once you have your greenery, take a look at our guide to making your own wreath, it'll talk you through the process step-by-step.
14. Glass vs. plastic
Most people believe glass is a more eco-friendly choice but did you know that plastic is better than glass for the environment? People tend to think that glass is the most sustainable choice, because it can be recycled. However, the process of recycling glass costs a lot of energy. The CO2 footprint of plastic is far better than glass. Recycling plastic doesn’t need those high temperatures glass needs and is lightweight in transport.
Even fossil PET is a more sustainable choice then glass. Keep this in mind when buying cosmetics and other beauty products, such as face or body care products this Christmas.
15. Donate unwanted gifts
Unfortunately, a huge proportion of the gifts given this Christmas will end up in the back of the wardrobe never to see the light of day again. This year make a special effort to see that any unwanted presents go to good use.
Unwanted toys can be donated through organisations such Mummies Paying It Forward who accept unwanted gifts from the community and give them to vulnerable families in need. You can also donate your old or unwanted clothes to your local op shop – the majority of their revenue comes from goods donated so donations are vital.
Don’t have anyone to gift to but still want to give?
Check out Give Now to find local organisations looking for everything from books to bikes to electrical items. This is a great way to make sure your unwanted items go to good use and don’t end up in landfill.
How will you be reducing the environmental impact for a more sustainable Christmas this year? Tell us below in the comments.