How To Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas

Sparkling lights in the night, gifts under the tree, hot cocoa, and stockings. Who’s ready for the Christmas season?

Christmas doesn't have to be a time of waste. See how you can have an eco-friendly Christmas of your own.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a time of waste. See how you can have an eco-friendly Christmas of your own.

 

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Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to sidetrack your goal of going green. Here are 10 ways you can be eco-friendly this Christmas season.

1. Use Recyclable or Reusable Gift Wrap

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Did you know that most wrapping paper is not recyclable? Some contain plastic and a lot of ink that does not make it worthwhile, or even possible, to recycle. Just think of how many bags of wrapping paper you end up throwing away after Christmas. Think about how much paper we could keep out of the landfills if we switch to something more sustainable! If you’re not ready to give up the thrill of tearing open a gift, look at using newspaper as gift wrap or purchasing kraft paper, butcher paper, or any unbleached recyclable paper. The best option is to use reusable wrapping paper such as cotton cloth. It very easy to use, it’s unique and eco-friendly. Learn more about using cloth as wrapping paper here!

2. Package Cookies in Paper Bags

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Who doesn’t love a good Christmas cookie? When baking for your friends, family, and neighbors, package your baked goods in paper lunch sacks or recyclable cardboard boxes. The plastic bags with printed snowflakes and Santas are really cute but in the end, they end up in the landfill. Encourage people to recycle the packaging you put your cookies in to help keep the recyclables out of the landfills. Also, consider using reusable silicon mats for baking instead of parchment paper.

3. Shop Local

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Shop local is one of my mottos. You help support your community, local economy, and the environment when you shop locally. You can help take off the strain of shipping and you’re items won’t get lost in the mail! Bonus points if the item doesn’t come wrapped in plastic and if you bring your own bag. Shopping at local shops also provide an opportunity to get unique gifts for your friends and family.

4. Buy Used

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Second-hand stores are a great option to find unique gifts that can be reused or repurposed and kept out of the landfill. People will only know you got their gift at a second-hand store if you tell them. It is also cheaper than shopping at retail stores! Plus, if you or someone you are gifting is a fan of vintage items, second-hand is the way to go.

5. Send Digital or Recyclable Christmas Cards

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Over 1.6 billion cards are mailed in the U.S. every year during the Christmas season alone. That is a lot of paper! A lot of Christmas cards are embellished with glitter, plastic, and other nonrecyclables. Most of these cards will end up in the landfills at the end of the season. Sending out e-cards can help reduce the number of cards that might end up in the landfill. If you still want to send out cards, consider making your own or sending ones that can be recycled. Encourage your friends and family to recycle the cards you send them when they are done with them.

6. Change How You Decorate with Lights

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Christmas lights are absolutely beautiful but are made almost entirely of plastic and are energy guzzlers. Try taking a more minimalist approach and use fewer lights rather than decorating every inch of your home with lights. Other options are to use LED lights, which use less energy, are safer, and will save you money, or try your hand at some solar powered lights.

7. Reuse Your Christmas Decorations

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Some decorations may be last season but that doesn’t mean you should throw them out! Reusing Christmas decor can help keep more trash out of the landfill. If you have some stuff you want to get rid of, consider trying to sell or donate it so that it can get a second use.

8. Donate Your Old Tree

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There’s a debate on whether or not live or fake trees are better for the environment. However, regardless of what kind of tree you have, there are things you can do to help reduce your environmental impact. If you have a fake Christmas tree that you are planning on getting rid of, try donating it if it is in good condition. If you have a live tree, consider getting it mulched once you are done with it so that it can be used elsewhere and not end up in a landfill.

9. Give Green Gifts

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Not everyone on your gift list may be interested in going green, but you can go out of your way to get them green gifts. Handmade soaps, natural cosmetics, plastic-free cooking ware, and more. Need some ideas? Check out my Eco-Friendly Christmas Gift List.

10. Don’t Use Disposable Diningwear at Your Party

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Disposable silverware and plates may be great for an easy cleanup but not so great for the environment. It may be a bit of a pain washing a bunch of dishes but you can help keep waste out of the landfills (can you see the theme here?). You could also ask your guests to bring their own cups and dining ware.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year but it can also be one of the most wasteful times of the year. There are many ways you and your family can help reduce your Christmas waste. What are you doing this Christmas season to go green?