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10 ways to have a low waste holiday season

low waste holiday season
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Danielle Alvarado


Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Christmas has been commercialized to the point where it’s become a season of consumerism and waste. However, even within a world where we are being told to buy new Christmas decorations every year and leave no space under the Christmas tree empty, we can still have a sustainable Christmas!

A low waste holiday is nothing difficult to achieve – all it takes is thinking about the choices you make and how you could green-ify them!

1. Rent a tree

A plastic Christmas tree is deemed for hundreds of years of polluting the landfill, while a cut-down tree takes a lot of resources to grow only to be thrown away after a few days. While the latter is certainly more sustainable than the former, there is a much more eco-friendly option: rent a Christmas tree! That’s the ideal option for a low waste holiday.

If there are no tree rental services in your area, you could also buy a potted tree to plant after it becomes too large for your home!

2. Decorate from nature

The best low waste holiday decorations come from nature – pinecones, logs, greenery from the forest… the options don’t end there. Why waste money on unsustainable plastic décor when you can get many super sustainable options on a walk in the forest?

Even if there are no forests near you, you could also get biodegradable or edible décor from the supermarket! Start with cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices.

3. Invest in timeless ornaments

Trends come and go, so choose your Christmas ornaments carefully, so that they will last you for years to come. An investment into more durable options will help you reduce the amount of waste but also save you money in the long run, since you won’t be needing a replacement for a long time!

4. Give sustainable gifts

It’s easy to give sustainable gifts to sustainably-oriented people – but what if your loved ones aren’t living as sustainably as you are? You’ve still got many different ways to make gifts for them more eco-friendly. As sustainability is becoming a trend, you can find sustainable options for almost anything, so spend some time researching how you could make their favourite things more sustainable.

Alternatively, some sustainable gifts can be a good gateway into a sustainable lifestyle – water bottles, reusable straws, or natural beauty products are only some of the many options!

Check out our full guide to sustainable gift giving here!

5. Cook what you can eat

We all have a tendency to cook a lot of food on Christmas – so that we know we will surely have enough. However, much of our leftovers are then uneaten and send to the landfill, where they can’t break down properly and release methane (a greenhouse gas acting much faster than CO2).

This is something we can easily avoid by measuring out the portion sizes and making sure we don’t cook an excess. However, if you are left with more food after Christmas, you can simply freeze it and enjoy through January!

Need help with meal prepping? Check out WonderMamas for healthy plant based meal plans for all seasons!

6. Thrift your outfit

Christmas outfits – we usually only wear them on a few days of the year, to leave them in the back of the closet until next December. There are two ways to make your Christmas outfit more eco-friendly. Firstly, you could make use of your wardrobe stables and mix them into a holiday outfit.

However, if items like Christmas jumpers are one of your favourite things about the holidays, you don’t need to give them up – just thrift them instead of buying new! Want help? Check out our guide to second hand shopping here!

7. Invest in a reusable advent calendar

Advent calendars are wasteful and expensive. Why not invest in a reusable calendar you can fill with your favourite treats instead? While this may be a small investment at first, it will save you money in the long run and you’ll be able to customize your treats for years to come!

Here are some of our favourites from Etsy:

  • Christmas positivity advent calendar bags by Head In T Clouds – $22.00, International Delivery
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  • Personalized advent calendar by Returning Grace – $22.50, Made in the U.S.
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8. Make it vegan

How can you make your Christmas menu more sustainable? Bet on vegan alternatives over meat and other animal products. Did you know that plant-based foods have 10-60 times lower carbon footprint than their animal-based counterparts?

We’re not saying that as somebody who loves the traditional Christmas dishes you have to go vegan overnight – but perhaps try experimenting with some options and switch up your Christmas menu with more plant-based options. Then, maybe add more of them next year!

9. Send digital Christmas cards

Christmas cards may seem like a small drop in the ocean, but they do add to your carbon footprint and often ultimately end up as waste. One way to cut this impact is to send them digitally. That way, you can even customize them!

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to do so, there are plenty of free online tools such as Canva with easy-to-use templates that anyone can learn to use within minutes.

10. Support local shops

Last, but certainly not least, support local shops and businesses through this holiday season. It’s been a tough year for small businesses, so they could especially use your support.

Not only will you be helping your local area – by choosing to support a small independent business, you also reduce your environmental impact by saving transport emissions or packaging needed to transport products across half the world!

However you’re spending your sustainable Christmas, remember that making this holiday season low waste is not a one-size-fits-all approach – some solutions that work for you may not be possible for others. Share some of your favourite ways to green-ify the holiday season in the comments below – we’d love to see what you’re doing and others could find some inspiration in it!

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