Merry (Green) Christmas! Lower Waste Holiday Ideas

Berries growing on holly plant

Christmas is almost here! In our part of the world, it is always a green Christmas. Don’t be too jealous of our summer weather. I truly miss the lovely white bright sparkling Christmases of the north. Without snow and with the days at their longest, I never feel the need for Christmas lights, so our Christmases have inherently become a little greener.  Haha!  Here are some other (slightly less grinchy) lower waste Christmas celebration ideas for a greener holiday season, no matter what your weather. Remember…every little bit helps!

Lower Waste Christmas Ideas and Inspiration

Greener Christmas Decorations

  • Embrace the classics.  Pick your holiday decorations in classic styles so that you can enjoy their beauty for years to come. If you need to have a few “it” items or colours, look for items that can be reused or repurposed into non-holiday decor or other uses. Potted plants make lovely decorations that you can enjoy long after the holidays, and are a great way to add greenery or a splash of on-trend colour.  
  • Real vs. Fake Christmas Trees. Opinions divide over real vs. fake trees – both have their positives and negatives, so choose what’s right for you. If you choose an artificial tree, pick one you really like for long-term use.  Give your old artificial tree to a charity or charity shop if you are upgrading.
  • Eat your decorations.  Festive cakes and cookies, colourful platters, and holiday drinks will dress up your holiday table all on their own. Jars and dishes of candies or fruits make beautiful longer-lasting decorations.
  • Be energy conscious.  LED lights make it much easier to light things up for the holiday using less energy, and you can be extra energy wise with your selective use of power switches and timers. Depending on your location and weather, solar might also be an option.
DIY reusable fabric gift wrap and ribbons

Greener Christmas Giving and Gifting

  • Give wisely.  Try to pick non/less disposable presents that will be loved, used, read, worn, eaten, experienced, grown, etc. Remember, less is more. (I know…it is so hard this time of year!)
  • Consider lower waste gift wrapping options.   Traditional gift bags and gift boxes are convenient and easy to reuse multiple times. Useful wrapping like fabric, baskets, tins, boxes, etc makes the wrap a bonus part of the present.  Prefer paper? You can still wrap and rip a little greener by choosing recycled or recyclable materials.  
  • Consider your Christmas card options.   This a struggle for us with so many family and friends scattered everywhere.  I absolutely love receiving holiday mail, but limit our send-outs as international postage is crazy expensive. Charity cards, homemade cards, and photocards are all fun options.  E-cards and email lack the personal touch of snail mail, but are still a great way to keep in contact. We try to compensate a little for the electronic cop-out by picking a Christmas charity or two and donating in lieu of postage paid to put some of the warm fuzzy feeling back in.
  • Spend time, not just money.  Do things with your loved ones and make holiday memories.  Get out of the house – help a charity, go for a walk, bike ride, cross-country ski, snowshoe, visit a park, toboggan, or take in a museum. Your imagination (and your weather) is the limit!
Paper Christmas gift tags with pine cones and ribbon

Reducing Holiday Waste

  • Plan your menu. There is a huge amount of wasted food during the holidays.  Try to plan your holiday menus to minimise waste. Enjoy the leftovers or pop them in the freezer for later use.
  • Reuse your Christmas cards.  Take a look through any holiday cards that you aren’t keeping for sentimental value. Consider whether they’d make good craft supplies. Cards are often perfect for punching into cute gift tags.  Recycle (if possible) anything you don’t want to keep or use. 
  • Recycle your Christmas tree.  If you have a live Christmas tree, recycle it into firewood, wood chip mulch, or other useful supplies. If you don’t have the means or need at home, check your local green waste services for pick-up or drop-off options.
  • Don’t forget your everyday greener choices.  Holidays come with plenty of waste and rubbish, and it can be hard to follow your usual routine with all of the other distractions. Set up for success and try to make it easy for your family and any holiday guests to follow your recycling and composting routines. If you are replacing household items or have unneeded old clothes, its a great opportunity to declutter a little and give to charity.
Merry (Green) Christmas! Lower Waste Holiday Ideas


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