how to have a more zero waste Christmas

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. I love the lights on the houses and seeing the Christmas trees in the windows. I love always having an excuse for hot chocolate and singing all the songs old and new.

But Christmas can be very wasteful

From the wrapping paper under the tree, to all the gifts we buy and snacks we consume, Christmas is a consumerist holiday that costs a lot and costs our planet a lot. Now I in no way want to cancel Christmas, but maybe we can just tone down the waste a little bit.

We don’t have to give up the gifts, the snacks, and the festivities, but there are a lot of options out there for what we can buy, consume, and in the end throw away that our garbage can doesn’t have to be as full at the end of the holiday season.


  1. Don’t worry about being the most decorated house on the block, or everything matching with your decorations. See what you can make yourself, buy at thrift stores, and make it your own. Bringing out the same decorations every year always brings out the emotions within me.
  2. Tree – there are lots of debates on whether a real tree that you cut down every year is better or a fake tree that lasts you twenty years, but if you do choose a fake tree make sure that if lasts as long as possible. And if you do get a real tree make sure it isn’t going to the landfill at the end of its life. If you have the space you can always do a potted tree that you bring in every year until it no longer fits in your space and you can plant it elsewhere.
  3. Consider using food items for decorating such as dried orange slices, cranberries, popcorn, and cinnamon sticks. Not only are they less wasteful, but they will also make your house smell amazing.

Gift Buying

  1. Try and buy as much as you can locally. Amazon and other online shopping retailers have taken over our lives, but it is great for the environment and for your local community to try and shop as locally as possible. These items are quite often made by people who live around you and you can buy them without a lot of the excess packaging.
  2. Buy experiences not things. Most of us have more things than we could ever use in multiple lifetimes so think about the things that aren’t things. Whether that is going for a massage, to the science centre, or even for a day or weekend trip these are things that won’t go straight to the landfill.
  3. Consumables. I know that I always love food and snacks and they are something that can easily be made or bought at bulk stores with very little packaging.
  4. Make your own. For one secret Santa this year I made a soup mix and a cookie mix in jars. This involved all things that I had already in the house including the jars and was inexpensive to put together. This didn’t even take any skill, but a lot of people have skills and can make gifts that people love.
  5. Donate money. You can always give money to a person’s favourite charity or a cause they care deeply about.

Gift Wrapping

  1. If you are using paper use plain brown paper. This can be decorated in many number of ways, including using nature, drawing on it, or many other ways. If you saved wrapping paper from last year you can also use that.
  2. Consider cloth gift bags for your close family. You can make simple cloth drawstring bags to put gifts in that can be used for years. While you can give these out if you are using them with your close family they are easy to pack up and bring out again next year.
  3. Make gift tags out of last years Christmas cards. You can cut out that interesting bits of Christmas Cards and then use them for your gift tags this year. It is better than just throwing them in the trash.


  1. Don’t make too much. It can be tempting to make every option available, but consider how much people will actually eat and if anything will go to waste. Make sure what you are making will work later as leftovers and can even be frozen until January.
  2. Try and make as much yourself. So much of the food around Christmas is heavily packaged, but the more that you can make yourself (and even buy the ingredients in bulk) the more waste you prevent from happening.
  3. Give away what you can and compost what needs to go to waste.

Here are just a few of the ways that you can reduce your waste this Christmas season. Do you have any other ideas?

One Comment Add yours

  1. alindaperry says:

    I like that one, ‘consider experiences rather than things” . Also, great wrapping paper is the Christmas kitchen towels, and holiday cloth napkins, and for larger packages, use Christmas bath towels. Oher packages might be, cartoon pages from the newspapers. Or even pages from the magazine section for smaller gifts. Merry Christmas peace


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