Your Practical Guide to a Green Eco-Friendly Christmas

Image result for Jolanta Smidtiene from Kaunas, Lithuaniahas eco friendly christmas tree installation
Eco-friendly Christmas Tree Made From 4000 Recycled Bottles in Kaunas, Lithuania

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. You reconnect with your friends and family and all the Christmas festivities and mood adds cheer to an otherwise gloomy winter weather.

Rampant, mindless consumerism and lots of waste is another side of Christmas that is often not paid heed too. Shopping, excess of presents, wrapping, food, travelling and all that Christmas decoration not only takes a toll on your wallet but also puts a lot of strain on the planet. Only after the festivities end, it dawns on us how much have we consumed and the unnecessary waste we have created – adding to the guilt.

Fret not. With proper planning, you can avoid getting sucked into the excesses and reduce your holiday trash. “Christmas is a great time to inspire our loved ones that we can make conscious choices that benefit our planet while still enjoying all the joy that the season brings”, says Mel, Health Coach & Blogger at Green Living Goddess.

Christmas is the time to focus on what matters – family, friends and the environment, and by being little thoughtful you can experience the same joy of giving and receiving in an eco-friendly way that’s good for you, your planet and the animals. Here are some basic tips to prepare for a more sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas.


Christmas Decoration: Minimize and opt for quality

Decorating the house for Christmas is not only tradition but also fun. But we need to be aware of the environmental impact of our choices – think of all those plastic decorations we normally use. Shia, the zero-waste vegan blogger of Wasteland Rebel, recommends to go easy on the Christmas decoration and try to reuse what you already have.

Don’t worry you don’t have to give up all that fun, as there are plenty of green ways to decorate your home for Christmas. If you love decorating and impressing your guests, we recommend ditching the cheap decorations and opting for good-quality pieces that you can reuse every year. Make sure to only invest in recycled and/or recyclable pieces and pack them carefully, after use, so they can last for years to come. As for the string lights, opt for the LED ones as they take up a lot less energy, are brighter and even last longer than the incandescent bulbs. All those battery operated decor items are absolutely a no no as the batteries pose huge risk to human health, wildlife and the environment.

Check out 32 eco-friendly Christmas decoration ideas on naturallivingideas.com.


Switch to eco-friendly gift wrapping

You must have shopped the Christmas presents already, and if you are like one of us who does everything at the last moment, you might still be left with the task of wrapping the gifts. Thank God for that, because you still have time to minimize the waste and opt for an eco-friendlier route to wrapping.

The best way to present the ‘present’ is using the close your eyes method – it’s more fun and you don’t need to wrap it. The excitement stays and there’s no waste. Of course, you can’t do this with everyone and that’s why we recommend being creative – like using newspaper or paper grocery bags and adding a plant on the top for a nice touch (which can be used later ); tie it with a rope or secure with a paper tape. Check out eco-friendly wrapping ideas from Francesca of Ethical Unicorn.

When it comes to receiving gifts, unwrap carefully and salvage as much as possible so you can reuse it.

P.S. If you are still left out with some gifts, we recommend gifting experiences or local artisan made gifts to reduce the carbon footprint. Have you checked out our vegan and eco-friendly Christmas gifts list?


Ditch paper cards & take the e-route

While most of us have already taken to email and Whatsapp for sending our Christmas greetings, many still like it the old way – mailing Holiday cards. No matter how classy or personal it looks the truth is it’s a drain on our environment – valuable resources are wasted and after all nearly always disposed-off since it can’t be re-used. Even if you choose to use the recycled ones, it’s still an unnecessary burden on resources {recycling is a process}. Instead, create and send a personalized e-card – it will be just as special and environmental-friendly too.


Take your bags off to shopping

All that Christmas shopping, planning the menu and grocery store errands for the big Christmas meal can sometimes make you forget the basics. Just a gentle reminder – don’t forget to take your re-usable shopping bags when going Christmas shopping to avoid the use of plastic.


Get the real tree

Bobbi of Living Life Green always buys a living green tree as part of the Christmas decoration and recommends this to everyone. She says, “it’s also a beautiful way to bring nature into your home for the holidays”. These trees can be replanted or recycled after the Christmas season is over, which reduces waste, recommends Mel.

However, if you don’t have space or time to maintain a living tree, there are many eco-friendly alternatives like creating a recycled cardboard tree or a pallet tree. Check out more options on naturallivingideas.com.


Go organic and smart menu planning

The focal point of Christmas merriment usually the food is food. By merely hosting a vegan Christmas, you are reducing enormous carbon footprint and an insane amount of waste. However, a few more actions can help the eco cause tremendously.

It’s worth investing in locally grown organic produce for your Christmas feast. Buying locally produced food boosts rural jobs and the chemical-free food not only tastes a lot better but is great for your health and the planet too.

Don’t get into excess, plan your meals properly and remember quality always trumps quantity. While you may want to impress your guests, we recommend planning few healthy and delicious items that everyone can relish instead of a large menu, that ends up getting wasted.

Also, if you are not in the washing mood and are planning disposable dishes for serving, then ditch plastic and instead opt for the compostable utensil, dishes and cutlery. As for the drinks, get one big bottle and serve everyone with that instead of purchasing individual bottles for your guests. Make sure to recycle your used bottles and cans.

In case you are not hosting a party but are invited by your family or a friend, we recommend offering to bring a few vegan items for the Christmas dinner or lunch. Not only will it ensure you have something delicious to eat, but will also save a few animals as your host will cut down their non-vegan options from the menu. Make sure to tell them in advance.

Of course, remember not to go overboard by overeating. You deserve to indulge in the holiday treat, but you must avoid over-indulging. Also, make sure to exercise and even take your friends over with you.

Check out our Vegan Christmas Menu with 45 delicious recipes ideas from breakfast down to desserts for inspiration.


Have a leftover party

What about all the leftovers? Who says Christmas festivities cannot continue after the 25th?
Bobbi recommends throwing a leftover party because you don’t need an excuse to continue the Christmas festivities into the week. Inform them in advance to avoid any waste at their homes. You can also pack the extra in food containers and give to those in need.


Burn the real wax

Scented candles add that cozy Christmas feeling and their smell always rush back all the old memories. They are a wonderful addition for the ambiance during holiday season. Though they seem safe, most scented candles contain toxic carcinogenic chemicals that are harmful for your health and the environment. Yes, even those expensive ones (most of them are made from paraffin, a petroleum waste product and contain lead and artificial scent). Think of it like second-hand smoke.

Opt instead for non-GMO soy wax candles scented with organic oils, as they are biodegradable and good for your health. Make sure they come in reusable glass jars and eco-friendly packaging. We recommend sustainable scented candles from Australian brand Velvety or Pacifica soy candles (they also have paraffin collection so check the ingredients).

Read about the harmful chemicals found in candles on The Guardian.


Switch off

Remember to switch of all the decorative lights and other unused electric items when not needed. Switching off will not only put a check on your electricity bill but will also save energy.


Wish you a Green Merry Christmas!

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