Christmas is a time when we celebrate, relax and be merry! But it can also leave us feeling guilty, especially if we're trying to live a zero waste lifestyle. With so many plastic ornaments, trees cut down and used for decoration, food catered and wrapped in plastic containers, anyone can manage a plastic free Christmas.
“Australians will use more than 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper this Christmas – enough to wrap around the Earth’s equator almost four times.”
Christmas doesn’t feel like it can be a plastic free season, as it’s often a time of excess and waste. But we’ve got loads of ideas to help you cut your plastic consumption this Christmas. Even if it's just a little bit each day. Every bit helps.
So here's lots of ideas for a zero waste Christmas and sustainable celebrations.
Christmas Tree and Decorations
Here’s a few ideas for eco friendly Christmas trees.
1. Choose a real Christmas tree – it’s naturally biodegradable. Use an eco friendly Christmas tree that’s purposely grown in a plantation for up to 12 years as it can help absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and remove dust from the air.
2. Get a small living tree to keep in the garden or pot all year round. Decorate native shrubs like the Woolly Bush. This upright plant with silky, shiny foliage makes for a great screening plant too.
3. Get creative and use found materials to create a unique tree.
4. Repurpose native flowers, leaves, pine cones, rocks, driftwood, sand, shells, or any other items you can find in nature to decorate around the house. These kinds of eco friendly Christmas decorations are easy to DIY.
5. Get creative with reused and recycled materials for Christmas décor. Try newspapers, magazines, fabric, glass jars, old wrapping paper, and tin cans for example. You can create warm and inviting decorations made from materials you have around your home.
7. Use plant based candles in plastic free packaging. Choosing sustainable, non toxic scented candles is an inviting way to light up your home.
8. If you’re using shop bought decorations choose natural materials. You can find glass, wood, metal, fabric, or clay materials that will help transform your space into a festive one.
Eco friendly Christmas gifts
10. Choose eco gifts for babies and kids. Give them natural rubber bath toys from Hevea, wooden baby toys from Everearth and Plan Toys, baby teething toys from Tikiri, and baby books from RMS My Family Book.
12. Give the gift of experience. Send loved ones a gift card or voucher to enjoy cooking classes, wine tours, day trips, or short courses that’ll give them lifetime memories.
13. Send electronic gift cards or printable vouchers.
14. Handmade, DIY, or homemade gifts are eco friendly gift ideas. Check out ideas at Madeit and support local independent Australian talent while you’re at it.
15. Give pre-loved and second hand presents. Look for good quality and authentic items like books, clothes, or toys, and wrap them creatively.
16. Give indoor plants as presents. Some plants have air-purifying qualities and are sustainable Christmas gifts that keep on giving!
17. Adopt a koala and give a memorable gift to a loved one. It’s the perfect gift for any animal lover, as well as an opportunity to inspire loved ones to care for nature.
Cards and Gift Wrapping
18. Send electronic Christmas cards. It’s an eco friendly alternative to physical Christmas cards.
19. Recycle or reuse old gift bags, fabrics, newspapers, and magazines. You can avoid buying wrapping paper and use what you have lying around at home.
20. Wrap gifts with natural fabric ribbons and bows. Think raffia, hemp, and crepe paper!
21. Use brown paper tape to wrap gifts. Water activated paper tape has benefits like added strength for heavier packaging, design, and more secure seal. It’s also 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
22. Wrap food and drink gifts in glass or non plastic packaging. You can even put these in a lovely Boomerang bag.
Food Preparation and Dining
23. Ditch the disposables! Go eco with reusable cutlery. Give your adult friends a White Magic Eco Basics Bamboo Cutlery Set, and their kids with a We Might Be Tiny Feedie Fork & Spoon Set. Having a big party? Rent plastic free containers, plates, and glassware instead of buying disposable ones.
25. Use cloth table napkins or FSC certified napkins. You can complement your dining experience with a green alternative from Going Green Solutions.
26. Serve drinks in repurposed old jars to friends and family. Cocktails will look great in them.
27. Use reusable food containers and wraps instead of traditional plastic like cling wrap. Try the reusable silicone food wrap from Agreena as it’s stretchy and self sticking.
28. Get creative with unique kitchenware. You can mix and match what you have at home to suit your Christmas dinner spread.
29. Shop at your local farmer’s market using eco bags. Shop in style with Apple Green Duck’s sturdy and washable bags.
30. Buy bulk food from zero waste stores (where you can bring your container) for dry ingredients.
31. Cook and bake your Christmas dinner from scratch. It helps avoid plastic food packaging.
Makeup and Personal Care
When preparing for your Christmas/holiday parties:
32. Go for natural makeup brands, including mineral and organic makeup, with plastic free packaging.
33. Skip the sparkly makeup that contains plastic glitter.
35. Avoid the sequins. They might be sparkly, but they’re often made from PVC that contains toxic chemicals.
36. Choose eco friendly clothing and accessories that use sustainable materials. Better still, repurpose an old outfit and don’t buy anything new.
Leftovers and Cleaning Up
37. Keep leftover food in glass containers, mason jars, or cloth wraps. Use reusable beeswax wraps like the ones from Apiwraps as part of your plastic free kitchen.
38. Use natural plastic free cleaning products in reusable bottles. Go for bottles and compostable refill packaging from Resparkle, Australian Natural Soap Company's dishwash bar or Ethique's kitchen spray, and bathroom spray concentrates.
39. Go for eco friendly cleaning brushes, sponges, and other tools made from sustainable materials like bamboo, coconut fibres, hemp, and cellulose fibres. Try RetroKitchen’s super cute range of biodegradable dish cloths. These also make great stocking stuffers that encourage your loved ones to switch to sustainable products. You can also try White Magic’s eco friendly kitchen brushes and pot scrubbers.
We’ve given you lots of ideas here to help you live plastic free and enjoy an eco friendly Christmas. If everybody makes a small change, it makes a big difference.