A zero waste Christmas. Is that really possible?
I mean Christmas is ALL about excess isn’t it?
Huge piles of Christmas gifts around a towering Christmas tree. Bulging Christmas stockings. Glittering Christmas gift wrap waiting to be torn off. And a Christmas party table laden down with food and crackers.
How on earth do you make Christmas zero waste without being a complete Scrooge and losing the very spirit of the season? Can we really be eco friendly for Christmas?
We can, I promise you because the truth is, we’re all exhausted by the excess aren’t we?
We whizz around Christmas shopping, wrapping presents and decorating so fast we don’t have the energy to truly enjoy the time. The piles of Christmas gifts quickly become the curse that is clutter and half the Christmas food we’ve slaved over goes in the bin!!!
It easily becomes anything but joyful.
So, a simpler holiday season with less waste can actually help us reclaim the true joy of Christmas.
But how do we put a zero waste Christmas into action?
Well, I have for you here 10 practical ways you can make this Christmas zero waste and more eco friendly and sustainable. There are lots of ideas for:
- Zero waste Christmas gifts
- Zero waste gift wrap
- Zero waste Christmas decorations
- And delicious food that won’t go to waste.
Zero Waste Christmas Tips
1. Give Experiences
Many, if not most, of us are drowning in clutter.
So the last thing we want for Christmas gifts are more things we’ve neither time nor space to enjoy.
So gift awesome – clutter free – experiences instead. Tickets for a show or sports match are big winners. As are travel vouchers. We used ours for an unforgettable train trip to Paris.
You could also gift – or ask for – something indulgent : an expensive hair cut, a massage, a manicure or a makeover.
Or a chance to learn something new. Gift a class on a favourite hobby or that illusive skill someone’s always dreamed of mastering.
These experience gifts don’t just cut waste. They also slash factory and air mile pollution and can support skilled jobs in our local communities, so they really are a great way to create some serious goodwill this Christmas.
For more inspiration check out this big guide to clutter free experience gifts
2. Give Gorgeous Vintage Christmas Gifts
You can give real style this Christmas with a gorgeous vintage item. It could be a stunning dress, handbag or shoes Or beautiful vintage furniture, jewellery or a watch.
One Christmas, I received a red vintage Burberry mac and just love that feeling of classic style every time I wear it.
Vintage Christmas presents are an especially good way to have a zero waste Christmas. We help to stop amazing old products ending up in landfill and to cut the pollution from producing and shipping new stuff.
When we need to have a more frugal Christmas and really save some money, we don’t even have buy these vintage Christmas gifts. They could just be much loved hand-me-downs within the family wrapped up and popped under the Christmas tree.
3. Give Brilliant Pre-Loved Toys
A great bike or scooter or a play kitchen or climbing frame are brilliant Christmas gifts for kids.
They will get played with over and over, but they don’t come cheap new do they?
Buying very good quality pre-loved toys is a fantastic way to have both a cheaper Christmas and a zero waste Christmas.
Young kids won’t notice these zero waste Christmas gifts are second hand and you can actually sell them for a profit in the future because good quality second hand toys keep their value.
We bought this play kitchen second hand on eBay as a gift and after loads of use sold it onto another local family. So we managed to be both zero waste and make money, how good is that?
Passing on pre-loved toys within a community is lovely way to enjoy a zero waste Christmas. So do ask around in local Facebook groups and the like for toys on kids Christmas lists before even thinking of buying new.
4. Ingeniously Recycled Gifts
All sorts of household items can be easily upcycled into lovely simple handmade gifts.
But it’s also much easier now to buy brilliant recycled gifts that ingeniously make use of old plastic and other waste including …
- Toy trucks made from plastic milk bottles
- Recycled silver and brass jewellery
- Belts & bags from reclaimed fire hoses
- Lovely cosy recycled blankets
- Recycled glasses and tumblers
- To recycled outdoor wear from brands like Patagonia and Finisterre
Recycled gifts in the stores are rarely the cheapest Christmas gifts to buy but if we all buy less clutter overall, we will have more money to spend on these zero waste Christmas gifts.
For more recycled zero waste gift ideas check out these guides to:
5. Zero Waste Stocking Fillers
There is a growing range of good value zero waste Christmas gifts available including zero waste stocking fillers.
I have to confess I have come to believe that fewer stocking fillers full stop is a good thing. They too easily add to our crazy hoards of never used clutter.
But stocking fillers can be a clever way to gift super handy little zero waste Christmas gifts that will actually cut clutter and waste all year round.
Here are a few to get started :
- Stainless steel water bottle
- Keep me coffee cup
- Bamboo toothbrush
- Soap & shampoo bars to cut out all those single use plastic bottles in the bathroom
- … and a handy little soap tin
- A plastic free lunch box
And then we can also help build a “recycled” economy by hunting out those little products that are actually made from waste. There’s everything from …
- Cute kids storage from recycled bottles
- chalkboards from recycled paper
- and coloured pencils from newspaper
- to recycled & recyclable lip liner!!!
OK, so there loads of ways to buy zero waste Christmas gifts for the whole family that spread Christmas joy and goodwill far further.
But there are also a bunch of other ways to enjoy a zero waste Christmas including zero waste gift wrap and decorations.
AND three more super clever zero waste Christmas tips I’ll come to in a moment. But first zero waste Christmas gift wrap.
6. Use & Use Again Gift Wrap
There’s much more recycled and glitter free recyclable Christmas gift wrap available these days, which seems like a good thing.
BUT it is still single use, and we waste energy – and cause pollution – every time we recycle it.
So its even better to reuse zero waste wrapping over and over and over again. You can
- Make your own gift bags with fabric ends
- Or if you’re really not a sewer you can buy gift bag sets in all sizes
- Or if you’re fantastic at wrapping just wrap in fabric squares and tie with ribbon
- Or buy adorable ready cut reusable Christmas gift wrap
7. Natural Zero Waste Christmas Decorations
Christmas is a wonderful celebration of light in the depth of a bleak mid winter. And glistening Christmas decorations are part of that.
But obsessively, over decorating our homes with yet more new colour coordinated ornaments when we already have an attic full of unused Christmas glitter, really isn’t the secret to enjoying the spirit of Christmas!!
Taking the time out, with our families, from the hustle and bustle of our crazy busy lives to make a few natural Christmas decorations from pine cones and the like is much more joyful.
AND it’s zero waste!!!
For simple inspiration try these natural zero waste Christmas decorations ..
Right, we’ve got zero waste Christmas gifts, zero waste stocking fillers, zero waste Christmas gift wrap and zero waste Christmas decorations.
Now we need to talk about food waste.
8. A Leftovers Plan
We all chuck away obscene amounts of Christmas food every year don’t we?
It’s crazy. And expensive.
Less food on our table is an obvious answer. But the best zero waste trick is a leftovers plan.
When you concoct your Christmas food shopping list, write down exactly how you will deal with all your leftovers, e.g.:
- Freeze – make sure you leave room
- Rehash – into a different recipe
- Donate – to which food bank by when
Be really specific about how to deal with each item and stick your plan somewhere visible, so its super easy to keep to.
And even better, make it a family affair and assign everyone jobs on it.
Looking after all those leftovers isn’t the most fun bit of a zero waste Christmas but my next trick, beautiful Christmas berries, can be.
9. Beautiful Berries
Some everyday zero waste lifestyle swaps are to be honest much easier than others.
Buying berries plastic free can be hard.
We’re lucky to have a local old school greengrocer who sells most fruit and veg zero waste, but the berries come in plastic.
However, blueberries, raspberries and the like are it turns out super easy to grow in pots even in a tiny garden or on balcony.
I am a pretty rubbish gardener but we still manage a bumper crop of zero waste raspberries every summer …
So gift the family a berry bush or two for Christmas and they’ll have scrumptious zero waste berries to devour come summer.
And the subject of planting things brings us onto the BIGGEST zero waste question at Christmas: are Christmas trees zero waste?
10. Zero Waste Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are natural, so surely they must be eco friendly, and better than artificial, right?
Hmmm. It’s a bit tricky.
Obviously they can be recycled and composted and go back into the land. A good thing. And zero waste. And they absorb CO2.
But grown as a mono crop with a whole load of pesticide they trash the soil, a bad thing. And much more of a bad thing than we knew.
Unfortunately, it can be very hard to find sustainably grown Christmas trees and most of us don’t have room to grow our own.
So this year, start a new family tradition to give a gift back to the planet, by planting a sapling for every member of the family.
In time that gift will grow into new forest land and protect our planet from our waste.
What could be lovelier?
And more true to the real joy of Christmas.
I hope you and your family have wonderfully joyful Christmas. And for more help on your zero waste journey next year read these:
- Zero Waste Made Simple
- 30 Frugal Zero Waste Products
- 101 Things You Need To Stop Buying To Go Zero Waste