How can you have a more sustainable Christmas during the upcoming festive season? Living greener is one of the best things you can do to protect the environment and human health.
You can adopt sustainability practices that make a difference on a global scale. It's crucial to follow a sustainable lifestyle that protects people, animals, and the planet, especially during the holidays.
Thankfully, there are many opportunities and solutions for an eco-conscious, green, and ethical Christmas. You can, in several ways, choose alternatives and make things less complicated, expensive, and polluting.
For a more responsible and eco-friendly Christmas, here are some super easy and helpful tips for sustainable living during the upcoming festive season.
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1. Eliminate packaging
Look for products and gifts that use less packaging. Waste like plastic packaging takes a lot of energy to recycle and years to decompose. Try to buy in bulk without any packaging whenever you can.
Don't wrap gifts you don't need to, and use recycled wrapping paper or fabric if you have to. Recycling highly reduces the amount of waste going out into the world.
You can easily have a more sustainable Christmas by using products with recycled content instead of brand new. Look for stuff that already contains recycled ingredients and can easily be recycled.
Buy products made from recycled materials to promote recycling, limit waste, and save yourself time and money. There are billions of products out there made of recycled content.
And choose mono-materials, products that are only composed of a single material type, as they are typically easier to recycle than products made from different things.
2. Reduce plastic waste
Single-use plastics have a disastrous impact on the environment and ecosystems. It's essential to limit how much rubbish goes out in the world, especially plastic.
For a greener Christmas, choose reusable containers and reusable bags to reduce how much plastic you use. And reuse containers instead of throwing them away.
Use stainless steel cutlery sets that add style to the Christmas table. Get packs of durable knives, forks, and spoons to prepare, serve, and eat food instead of disposable plastic utensils.
And switch from single-use napkins, tissues, and towels to more durable and sustainable cotton cloths. You can wash and reuse them many times over.
Check out our recommendations to reduce plastic waste and make a difference this Christmas.
3. Use eco-friendly Christmas decorations
One of the best ways to have a greener Christmas is to use eco-friendly decorations. Replace single-use decor with a reusable one. Don't waste anything and store all your decorations for next year.
You can also make your own Christmas ornaments. Use natural, seasonal foliage and adornments, upcycled fabric, and other recycled or organic materials.
The best eco-friendly Christmas decorations use sustainable ingredients that are also beautiful, durable, and unique. Choose designs made from paper, metal, brass, glass, and wood.
4. Choose a sustainable Christmas tree
Avoid buying a plastic Christmas tree at all costs. Instead, choose a much better sustainable option. If you want to buy a real tree, pick one from a sustainable forest with a responsible forest management certification like FSC or PEFC.
You can also purchase a tree growing in a pot to reuse it next year. Buying a potted tree is a great solution to protect the environment and make a high-quality garden gift.
Some places even let you rent a Christmas tree. You can care for the tree during the festive season, then return it to be planted and reused again next year.
5. Save energy and water
For a greener Christmas, reduce your consumption of water and energy. Consume natural resources responsibly, and try to conserve them as much as possible.
With just a few simple tips, you save money and lower your environmental footprint during the upcoming festive season.
Use LED and solar-powered lights as they need less energy to function. And turn off lights and other electronics as soon as you don't need them anymore. You can use timers to program in advance on long they will stay on.
You can also air-dry your laundry instead of using the dryer, avoid elevators, use a pressure cooker and fill the dishwasher all the way. Take shorter showers, wash your car less often, and capture rainwater to water your plants.
6. Wear sustainable Christmas outfits
Fashion addictions and excessive consumerism are very damaging to the environment. Overproduction and overconsumption made the apparel industry one of the largest polluters in the world.
It's imperative to make more environmentally conscious choices and preserve the Earth. It comes down to decreasing textile waste, water, air, and soil pollution, hazardous chemicals, and carbon emissions.
You can have a more sustainable Christmas by changing your shopping habits, boycotting unethical fashion brands, and switching to sustainably made clothing. It will also help the fashion world tremendously.
To dress well this Christmas, buy new and pre-loved clothes from sustainable fashion brands. Choose brands that make efforts to preserve nature and the well-being of all workers along the value chain.
Support companies that use business as a force for good and avoid fashion brands that don't make enough progress toward reducing their social and environmental impacts.
Check out our best Christmas party outfit ideas for this year's festive season to dress well and sustainably during the upcoming celebrations without breaking the bank.
7. Cook and eat at home
Cook a delicious Christmas meal at home for a more sustainable festive season instead of going out. It's fun to cook and prepare food with friends and family and improve your cooking skills.
It also saves you money and limits the amount of waste you create as you won't have to buy food on the go. You can reduce how much packaged food you need if you cook and eat at home for Christmas.
Making your meals is also a great way to eat lighter, healthier, and reduce your ecological footprint. Cook your meals in your kitchen with seasonal products. Bring them with you if you want to go out.
8. Prepare a plant-based Christmas meal
What kind of meal you prepare for Christmas has a meaningful impact on how sustainable it can be. Eat food that simplifies production, distribution, and consumption. You can promote independence and reduce exploitation with your food choices.
Prepare a plant-based meal to maintain good health, save animal lives, and protect the environment. Eating more plants instead of animals is a fantastic way of having a greener Christmas.
Avoid meat and dairy products to reduce your impact on the planet and ecosystems. Lower your consumption of animal-derived products, such as milk, cheese, cream, honey, most alcohols, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.
Intensive farming and killing of animals create massive quantities of methane as a by-product of farm animals' digestion, which accelerates global warming.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gas because of its ability to absorb heat in the atmosphere. One kilogram of methane warms the planet as much as 80 times more than one kilogram of carbon dioxide.
Animal agriculture, livestock, and animal feed are significant drivers of deforestation. They are also responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas emissions.
Eating less dairy and meat not only reduces your risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers but also cuts down emissions, waste, and pollution from agricultural farming drastically.
More and more people are eating plant-based meals thanks to their proven health and environmental benefits. While only a few people are vegan, many are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods.
A plant-based meal consists of minimally-processed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
9. Reduce food waste
You can reduce waste by recycling organic material like food scraps and yard debris to make compost at home. It's a fabulous way to have a more sustainable Christmas and add value to waste materials.
Compost your food waste as an easily recycling solution to do at home. You don't have to throw away every scrap at the end of each meal. Instead, store them in a composting bin.
Try to buy food in smaller quantities and cook only what you plan to eat to limit waste. And don't put excess food in the trash. Instead, freeze it in a stock bag to cook later.
The best tip to avoid food waste during the holidays is to plan your Christmas meals. Make a list in advance of the ingredients you need and in which quantities. And keep track of what you have leftover to avoid buying more when you don't need to.
Whenever you need to buy something at the supermarket, make an effort to look for products without packaging. Buy in bulk to bring food back home without an extra bag.
10. Buy local and seasonal products
Buy food grown locally and organically for your upcoming Christmas celebration. Visit the farmers' market and stock up on delicious, organic, and locally-grown food.
You can reduce waste, water, and carbon footprint by choosing local, organic, and seasonal items over conventional products. Then, learn to cook delicious meals at home using seasonal and local products.
It's a fantastic way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from production and transportation. Choose local goods that support initiatives in favor of local manufacturing and material sourcing.
Buy seasonal and local products to boost the local economy and the well-being of local communities, help farmers and workers, and empower them to provide sustainable livelihoods for families.
11. Limit your travel
It's best to reduce your travels for a greener Christmas. Help reduce global climate change and carbon emissions by traveling less. Travel only when it's necessary.
If you need to travel far away for Christmas and plan a long-distance trip, take a train instead of a plane whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint drastically.
Unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. As demand for air travel rises, the entire aviation sector could triple its emissions by 2050.
Even if a train trip is much longer than a trip by plane, it's virtually always better, often by a lot. The trainload and the source of electricity can make a big difference.
12. Ride a bike
For an eco-friendly Christmas, use green transport instead of conventional ways of moving around. Riding a bike, walking, or jogging are fun activities to take a break, exercise, and breath.
To travel shorter distances, evaluate if you can ride a bike instead of making the trip by car. Why not avoid busy roads and painful wasted time in traffic?
13. Plan your Christmas party
Planning your Christmas celebration is so important to get everything right the first. The month before Christmas is the most crucial time to get into the right mindset and become more productive.
Make sure to set the right plan in motion and avoid distractions. Practice goal setting, a healthy routine, and maintain consistency. During the last few weeks before Christmas, focus on what you need to accomplish each day.
Write down your plan for the best Christmas party in advance and get things done as quickly as you can. And regularly check your progress to avoid missing out on anything.
14. Budget everything
The key to having a greener Christmas is to manage your money correctly. Cut down the excess and create a budget to save time and money.
Get rid of unnecessary costs and expenses that are not needed, such as subscriptions to services you won't use during Christmas. Only spend your hard-earned money on what you truly value.
Try to eliminate any debt you may have, such as credit cards, car repayments, or a mortgage on a house too big for your needs. Instead of using debt to finance your Christmas celebration, only buy what you can afford.
Simply by reducing the amount of unnecessary stuff you buy, you can save yourself a lot of hassle. To minimize your carbon footprint and reduce your trash, shop responsibly.
The most sustainable things are the ones you already own. Buy less useless stuff overall. Try to prioritize quality over quantity. Get items that last longer that you can use for a long time. Look for stuff that can be reused rather than using disposable items.
Take better care of what you currently have. Maintain and repair your appliances, so you won't have to replace them that frequently.
Only purchase what you truly need and stuff that is essential for your Christmas. One great way to do so is to plan and put together a shopping list before going out.
Check out our best tips to shop ethically on a budget without spending a ton of money and easily afford a sustainable Christmas.
15. Don't waste time
To have the perfect eco-friendly Christmas, you need to value your time and avoid wasting it. Get the usual useless things you do during the day and on holidays. Even small stuff will earn you back time, space, and even money.
Christmas is not the time to be busy at work or even do overtime at the office. Stop doing anything that could lead you to feel overwhelmed and burn out.
Don't underestimate how valuable your time is before Christmas. If you do too many unimportant things, you risk getting stressed over stuff that doesn't matter and mess up your holidays.
Identify your top priorities, such as spending the most time with the people dear to you. And say no to anything else to have more time for what matters.
16. Avoid social media
Spend less time in the virtual world and more time in real life to have a more sustainable Christmas. Make sure to enjoy the present moment and focus your time on real experiences that you will remember your a long time.
Limit your time on social media and smartphones to make the most out of your holidays. During Christmas, much better things need your full attention, like your real friends and close family members.
Avoid useless distractions like watching what happens on social media and messaging everyone. Or you risk experiencing issues like stress, loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression often associated with them.
17. Invest in green projects
Carbon offsetting makes sense for a more sustainable Christmas. It allows you to invest in environmental projects around the world to compensate for your carbon emissions.
Many carbon offset projects also provide other people with better living conditions. Offsetting resulting emissions is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint when you don't have access to more climate-friendly alternatives.
Ready to offset your carbon emissions? Discover the carbon offsets projects from Atmosfair and Carbon Footprint.
18. Donate to charity
Every Christmas, many fantastic charities collect funds and work hard to help children and people in need. The best festive season of the year is a perfect time for generous donations.
Donate items that are still in good condition to charitable organizations. It's super easy to do and can do tremendous amounts of good to help communities in need.
You can donate used items to homeless and women's shelters, family service agencies, immigrant support groups, and churches. Blankets, towels, and linens can go to animal shelters.
Check out the many Christmas charities in your area that accept your generous donations.
If you want to live a more sustainable Christmas, support communities that need it the most directly. Consider financial donations to organizations that help people in need.
19. Be happy for Christmas
You can choose to be happier and healthier for a more sustainable Christmas. Through positive thinking, gratitude, and compassion, make a conscious effort to cultivate happiness during the upcoming festive season.
Make happiness a habit every day, especially on Christmas day, by cultivating positive thoughts and improving your mood. It will help you improve your health and well-being and have a better time during the holidays.
Happiness is already within yourself. Only you can make you happy. With the right attitude and some simple habits, you can choose to live the best Christmas of your life.
20. Have fun
Last but not least, remember what Christmas is all about. Make sure to have fun with your friends and family and make the most out of every moment.
Enjoy the precious time you spend with the people you love and who matter the most to you. For many people, it's their favorite time of the year for good reasons.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.