8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva


Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year *cues in music* for most folks, but also the most wasteful. People spend more, eat more, drink more, and gift more. You may even wonder. Is it possible to have a more sustainable way to celebrate the holiday?

Environmental impact of a sustainable Christmas

In the UK, families waste an estimated 270,000 tonnes of food each year, with a spike coming over the Christmas season. One study even found that the waste produced in the country increase by 30 per cent each Christmas; this includes garments, plastic toys, gifts, wrapping paper and more. 

Meanwhile, in the US, consumers purchase nearly 40 million natural Christmas trees and 24 million artificial ones. 

Why be more sustainable?

Having more eco-friendly celebrations will not only help you produce less waste to save the planet, but it can also help you save more money. Make your festivities friendlier for the environment with some of our tips for a more sustainable Christmas.

Eight useful tips for a more sustainable Christmas

#1 Quality, not quantity

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Do you need to give another coffee mug to a colleague you don’t even talk to? Buying fewer gifts and giving them to people that truly matter will not only reduce the chances of gifts going to waste (including the packaging!) but can help you save the extra coins too.

#2 Real vs Fake: What’s the most eco-friendly Christmas tree?

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

You might wonder if it’s more environment-friendly to opt for an artificial tree or cut off another pine from a sales yard. Fret not; according to the non-profit climate organisation Carbon Trust, real trees have a smaller carbon footprint than fake ones. 

With an estimated 8 million real trees getting cut this Christmas, saving them might make one consider buying fake ones – not really. 

The organisation reports that a 2m tall plastic tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – more than twice that of a real tree that ends up in a landfill and more than 10 times that of a real tree which is composted. 

#3 Wrap responsibly

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas
top view female hands wrapping gifts in textile and paper, eco-friendly gift box wrapping

When purchasing gifts, avoid products with too much packaging, like boxes and plastic sheets. If unavoidable, opt for packaging made with recycled or recyclable materials.

In addition, piles of wrapping paper will inevitably end up in the bin. Avoid anything with glitter or foil that has plastic on it. 

Try to recycle magazines, newspapers, or old books if you can, better not to wrap them at all! 

#4 Gift consumables

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Consumables are the perfect gift for people who don’t want to give or receive more “stuff”. They are things that won’t make clutter and less waste! 

Not all consumables need be food. They can vary from cookies to cooking products to bath products. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Online streaming subscription (or any online games or apps).
  • Soaps.
  • Shampoo.
  • Candles.
  • Massage oils.
  • Lip balm.
  • Lotion.
  • Pet food.

#5 Say no to plastic

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Cut down the climate impact of gifting by giving reusable or biodegradable products and packaging. Try your best to avoid giving products made from plastic, especially those that use batteries!  

#6 Cut Kitchen Waste

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Food production is the biggest cause of tropical deforestation. Try to cut any waste by planning – be realistic about how much food you need and use leftovers. Leftover food may be unavoidable, but you can save it and enjoy it the next day by covering it with eco-friendly cling film alternatives such as Tupperware, foil or wax cloth covers! You can even turn your kitchen leftovers into zero-waste cocktails.

#7 Support seasonal produce

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

Buying locally sourced products while in-season could make your shopping basket more sustainable by reducing the energy used to grow foods out of season. Visit your local grocer and farms to find out which fruits and veggies are in season!

#8 The gift of experience

8 realistic tips for a more sustainable Christmas

What’s the best way of making less waste by reducing demand for physical gifts? Experiences make wonderful, memorable gifts and sustainable too! Whether it’s giving out free concert passes, or just the gift of time, it’s a great way to bring the people you love most more intimacy. Way better than material things. 

Here are some delightful experience gifts depending on the receiver’s interests:

  • Movie tickets.
  • Meal at a favourite restaurant.
  • Access to a sports game or concert.
  • Membership in streaming apps like Netflix or HBO Go.
  • Spa and other self-care services.
  • Amusement park tickets.
  • Class passes for anything your receiver wants to learn.
  • Beach getaway.
  • Travel tickets.
  • Hotel staycations.


Celebrations don’t have to be a burden on the planet. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holidays and have a merrier sustainable Christmas!

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.