I often think about how our Christmas affects the environment. So, I made some changes last year to have a more sustainable Christmas; I can tell you it was not that difficult. We can significantly reduce our ecological footprint by choosing thoughtful gifts (quality over quantity), adopting a vegetarian diet by making vegan cookies and meals and choosing eco-friendly decorations. I am also buying from local shops for Christmas this year to help small businesses and be greener. But there are more ways to have an eco-friendly Christmas. Here are some tips to help you out.
One Thoughtful Gift Per Person
In our consumer-driven society, buying multiple gifts for everyone is easy. However, last year, I consciously decided to gift just one meaningful item to each person. This reduced the environmental impact and allowed me to invest time in selecting something truly special. For instance, for my sister, a book lover, I found a first edition of her favorite novel.
Gift an Experience
Material gifts can sometimes be forgotten, but experiences last a lifetime. I once gifted my parents a weekend getaway to a cozy bed and breakfast in the countryside of Victoria. The memories they made and the stories they shared were more valuable than any physical item.
Eco-friendly Gift Wrapping
The visual spectacle of a pile of wrapped gifts under the tree is undeniably delightful. But the aftermath, a mountain of discarded paper, is less so. I have started using recycled materials or even fabrics for wrapping. One year, I used old maps of Australia, turning each gift into a mini adventure.
Gift for a Better Future
Sustainability can be gifted, too. I have gifted tree saplings and memberships to environmental organizations and even sponsored endangered animals in my brother’s name. Such gifts benefit the environment and educate and inspire others to be more eco-conscious.
Send Plantable Christmas Cards
Have you heard of plantable cards? Unlike traditional cards, which often become junk mail and get in the trash, plantable ones bloom into beautiful flowers or herbs. It is a gift that keeps giving and reminds your family or friends of your thoughtful gesture for months.
Reduce Food Waste
It is easy to overestimate the amount of food needed for festive feasts. I have started planning meals meticulously, often preparing dishes that can be frozen and enjoyed later. Sharing leftovers with neighbors or donating to local shelters ensures nothing goes to waste.
Choose Vegan or Vegetarian Meals
The environmental impact of meat production is significant. Cooking vegan meals is no problem since I have been a vegan for many years. However, convincing my family to eat a vegan meal on Christmas was challenging. Last Christmas, I experimented with a vegan roast using seasoned jackfruit. The result was delicious and had a much lower carbon footprint than traditional meat dishes. My family loved it, and I look forward to trying some of these vegan Christmas cookies this year.
I have made it a tradition to create at least one dish using only seasonal ingredients, like a winter squash soup or a berry crumble. Since growing my own food, I have found that seasonal foods are fresher, tastier, and more nutritious. They also have a lower environmental impact as they don’t require long-distance transportation.
Buy Your Food Locally
Local produce supports community farmers and reduces carbon emissions from transportation. The local foods I get at the weekly farmers market in Melbourne are fresher and often have a richer flavor. You can find everything you need for your Christmas dinner!
Choose Solar and LED Lights
Traditional incandescent Christmas lights consume more energy. By switching to solar or LED options, I have noticed a significant reduction in energy bills while enjoying the same festive ambiance.
Make Your Own Decorations
There is a unique charm in handmade decorations. If I had kids, my house would be full of self-made Christmas decor. Luckily, I can borrow my little nice. Using natural materials like pinecones, dried fruits, and spices, we have crafted ornaments that look beautiful and have a minimal environmental impact.
Rent a Christmas Tree
Picking out a Christmas tree? Then, make an eco-friendly Christmas tree choice this season. I transitioned to an environmentally friendly plastic tree eight years ago, which still looks great. But if a plastic tree is not for you, you can rent one. Tree rentals are an innovative solution to the annual dilemma of what to do with a tree post-Christmas. Once the festivities are over, the tree is returned, replanted, and nurtured for the next season. How great is that?
Choose Sustainable Clothing
Fast fashion has a hefty environmental price, so I started investing in timeless, high-quality pieces from sustainable brands. They last longer and have a much lower environmental impact.
Do Nature Activities
The festive season is a great time to reconnect with nature. Instead of indoor activities, organize nature hikes, beach clean-ups, or even simple picnics in the park. These activities are fun and healthy for you and the environment.
Smart Travel Choices
During the holiday season, we seem to travel more often than normally. We go to buy presents and food and meet friends and family. However, our travel choices can significantly influence our carbon footprint. Try to use public transport or join in carpooling for holiday outings. This reduces traffic congestion and diminishes our environmental impact.