20 Tips For A Sustainable Christmas

As we’re looking forward to the excitement of the holiday season, let’s be more mindful this year of what and how much we buy and consume. It’ll be good for the environment and it’ll no doubt be good for our wallets. Check out these tips to get you started with your efforts for a more sustainable Christmas.

Decorating your home

1. Choose a real over artificial Christmas tree or, even better, a potted pine that you can use for years to come.

RELATED: The Christmas Tree Decision: Real Or Fake?

2. Choose solar powered Christmas lights. In Australia we’re lucky to have plenty of sunshine around Christmas time, so let’s make use of it.

3. Make decorations with your kids out of recycled materials.

Greener giving

4. Minimise your gift list. For example, in our extended family not everyone gets a present. We’ve all agreed to only buy gifts for the kids.

5. Get everyone’s wish list and get gifts that will be used.

6. Skip the cheap plastic gifts that will break 5 minutes after kids start playing with them and buy better quality gifts instead. If the cost gets too high, combine presents with other family members.

7. Consider giving a gift certificate for services, such as massage, restaurant or house cleaning, or tickets for concerts and events.

8. Buy local to minimise resources used for transport.

9. Buy gifts from natural materials.

10. Give battery-free gifts.

11. Ask your friends to not give you a gift this year, but make a donation to a charity instead.

12. Consider making your own cards from recycled materials especially if you have kids, who will not only do a great job, but will also be very excited about it.

13. Reuse Christmas wrapping paper from last year

14. Use kids’ artwork as wrapping paper.

Greener food

15. Avoid disposable plates, cups and utensils. Even if you’re celebrating outdoors, there’re good quality reusable party goodies you can get that you’ll be able to use again and again.

16. If you have to use disposable plates and cups, choose paper over plastic.

17. Plan your food well. According to, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase and this number is probably higher during holidays when we usually follow the guideline of “More is better”. Remember how much leftovers you had last time you hosted a party and prepare less this time.

18. Buy local food.

19. Chose loose over pre-packed fruit and veggies, and buy what’s in season.

20. Consider buying organic where possible.

And remember it’s not all or nothing! Don’t give up on a greener Christmas only because the thought of implementing all of these tips stresses you out. Even if you just focus on one little part of your celebrations and make it more sustainable this year, it all counts.

Image by LloydTheVoid via

The Christmas Tree Decision: Real Or Fake?

My husband and I only decorated a few branches for Christmas until we had kids. But when you have a child in the house you need a Christmas tree. We bought an artificial tree because we didn’t like the idea of cutting down a real one. It turns out we should have done our research better.

RELATED: Get your home ready for Christmas

Real Christmas trees are greener

  • Real trees are not taken from a forest. They are planted and grown as crops.
  • Real trees are grown locally and require minimal transportation.
  • Fake trees are made from plastic, they don’t disintegrate and cannot be recycled. Once you’re finished with them, they end up in a landfill and stay there.
  • Most fake trees are produced overseas and require considerable resources to be manufactured and transported.
  • The most optimistic research results show that you need to use your fake tree for at least 8 years to make it a more sustainable option than a real one. From my experience, keeping the same tree for 8 years is not easy. We’ve only had ours for 5 years, it’s already starting to break and we’re getting bored with it. The only reason we’re keeping it is because of our efforts to live sustainably. We’re trying to reach that 8-year mark!

Other considerations

Real Christmas trees can be messier, but then you’re more likely to pack them away as soon as the holidays are over and not let them just stay in the corner until Easter (or is that just me?). And you can’t beat the smell of a real tree. We always had a cut tree at home when I was a child and the smell is the one thing I miss about Christmas.

Fake trees can be more convenient. You just need to take them out of the box and there’s no need to look for a tree every year. On the other hand, choosing your tree can turn into an exciting family adventure that the children will love.

Another option – potted trees

It’s an option that didn’t even get on my radar when we were making a decision about our Christmas tree and I wish it had. You are not using plastic and you’re not cutting trees, you’re growing trees instead. Plus it would be exciting to watch your children and your tree grow together.

Potted pines start out very small, but they’ll grow a lot in just a few years. That’s why they may not be the best choice for you if you live in a small apartment. But if you have a garden, a verandah or even a large indoor space, consider getting a potted local pine like Wollemi.

Image by PublicDomainPictures via

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