Skip to content
How to have a sustainable Christmas

How to have a sustainable Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Every year, hundreds of millions of people celebrate Christmas by putting up trees, lights, and decorations. 

While the holidays are a time for joy and family, it's also the most wasteful time of the year. 

Americans generate 25% more trash during the holidays than at any other time of year. Much of this has to do with gift-giving, decorating, and entertaining. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to have a sustainable Christmas that won't harm the earth. Here are a few tips:

1. Get a Tree That Doesn't Hurt the Planet

Artificial Trees

One of the most iconic symbols of Christmas is the evergreen tree. In the United States alone, around 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year. While there are some sustainability concerns about real trees (more on that later), artificial trees can have an even bigger environmental footprint. 
Most artificial trees are made in China from non-renewable petroleum-based materials like PVC (polyvinyl chloride). They also can't be recycled or composted, so once you're done with them, they'll end up in a landfill, where they'll release harmful toxins into the environment.

Buy an artificial tree made from sustainable materials. 

Several companies make artificial trees from sustainable materials like bamboo or recycled plastic. These trees can be reused for many years, and when you're done with them, they can be recycled or composted.

Already Have an Artificial Tree? Don't Throw it Away!

When it comes to sustainability, it's always better to keep using what you have than buy something new. So if you already have an artificial tree, you don't need to buy a new one - just make sure to use it for many Christmases to come!

Buy a Real Tree Responsibly

If you do decide to get a real tree, there are some things you can do to lessen its impact. Firstly, try to buy a tree that was grown locally to reduce transportation emissions. Also, choose a sustainably harvested tree - look for labels like "Certified Farm Grown" or "FSC Certified." 
And finally, don't forget to compost or recycle your tree after Christmas! Many municipalities offer tree recycling programs where they grind up used Christmas trees to use as mulch or wood chips. Or, if you have the space, you can compost your tree yourself. Just be sure to remove all the decorations first!

Plant Your Tree

This year, get a live Christmas tree that can be planted after the holidays! There are several places where you can buy live Christmas trees that will be planted after the festivities are done. This is a great option if you want the look and feel of a real tree but want to protect the environment.

2. Decorate with Care

Christmas is a time of celebration and joy, but it's also a time when the environmental impact of our festivities can be felt most acutely. All that added waste, from wrapping paper to discarded trees, has a real impact on our planet.

There's no need to sacrifice sustainability for holiday cheer. It's easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday season and end up going overboard with the holiday decorations.

Reuse Your Old Decorations

This Christmas, why not reduce your environmental footprint by sprucing up with whatever decorations you already have? There's no need to clutter your house with more items. Instead of shopping for something new, consider simplifying and reusing the decorations you already possess. 
Don't forget that one of the easiest ways to lower emissions and help the planet is by utilizing resources around you. Think about how this simple step can make an incredible impact! Besides making sure the planet prospers, finding creative solutions to revamp old objects can save money and create exciting moments while holiday hosting.

Nix the Glitter

Glitter might seem like a harmless decoration, but it actually hurts the environment. Most glitter is made from plastic, and it can take hundreds of years to decompose when it's disposed of. In addition, the manufacturing process of glitter releases toxic chemicals into the air. So if you're looking for a sustainable Christmas decorating option, skip the glitter!

Recycle and Upcycle

Another way to celebrate sustainably is using recycled materials to decorate your home. For example, you can use old newspapers or magazines to make handmade paper snowflakes or use last year's holiday cards as gift tags. You can also forego traditional wrapping paper instead of reusable fabric bags or even old scarves. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

Lights, Lights, and More Lights

Christmas lights are another holiday tradition with a big environmental impact. American households use more electricity in a single month of holiday festivities than some countries use in an entire year!
According the U.S. Department of Energy, not only do LEDs use 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they also last much longer - up to 25 times longer! So make the switch this holiday season and help save some energy (and money).

Natural Decorations

This holiday season, why not get creative and decorate your home with some natural elements that uplift the winter wonderland vibe? You can find small twigs, ornamental leaves, pinecones, and evergreen branches to give your decorations an earthy look! Forage for these decorations in your backyard or check out the festive selection at your local grocery or craft store for some affordable finds. With these homegrown festive decor accents, you can enjoy a beautiful atmosphere without having to sacrifice the environment in return. If going full outdoorsy isn't what you fancy, you can use these pieces as a base while exploring other accents like ribbons, wood signs ornaments.

3. Get creative with gift shopping!

Of course, no discussion of Christmas would be complete without mentioning gift-giving and shopping. The commercialization of Christmas has led to a massive increase in consumption during the holidays. In fact, Americans spend on average $1,000 to celebrate Christmas each year and that retail sales have increased year-over-year since 2008.

Shop Online

A recent study from sustainable investment firm Generation found e-commerce can actually be 17% more carbon efficient when compared with traditional storefronts due to individuals making fewer trips. To reduce your holiday shopping impact on the environment, try shopping online instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores. This way, you can avoid all the emissions associated with traveling to and from the store. 
You can also send e-cards instead of traditional paper cards - according to the Huffington Post, if everyone in the US did this we could save enough paper to cover 45 thousand football fields! 

Shop Local

One of the most important things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to shop locally. When you buy from local businesses, you're supporting your community and reducing your carbon footprint.
When you buy from big box stores, your gifts have to travel a long way to get to you, which generates a lot of carbon emissions. Instead, try shopping at small businesses in your community this year for your Christmas gifts. Not only will you support local shops, but you'll also be getting unique gifts that your loved ones will cherish for years to come.

Make Your Gifts

If you're crafty, why not make your gifts this year? Homemade gifts are always thoughtful and unique; they'll save you money too! There are tons of great DIY tutorials online for everything from scented candles to knit scarves. Or, if cooking is more your thing, whip up a batch of cookies or some homemade jam. Homemade gifts are often more meaningful than store-bought items, and they'll also help you save money. Your friends and family will love it!

Give Experiences Instead of Things

One of the best ways to reduce your impact this holiday season is to give experiences rather than stuff. Instead of buying your loved ones yet another gadget they don't need, why not buy them tickets to a show, a gift certificate for a day of pampering, or an online cooking class? Experiences are far more memorable than material objects and won't end up in a landfill after just one use.

Eco-friendly wrapping paper and cards

Not all cards and gift wrap can be recycled. This is especially case if you buy any with metallic finishes, glitter, sequins, foil, lamination, or plastic.
There are many eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper. You can use recycled paper, fabric scraps, or even old maps or comics. Get creative and have fun with it!

4. Think About Your Outfit

When it comes to choosing outfits for Christmas parties and other holiday events, many people don't think about the environmental impact their choices might have. But the truth is, the apparel industry is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the world. The production of synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, requires a lot of energy and resources, and can lead to pollution. In addition, many synthetic fabrics are not biodegradable, which means they end up in landfills where they will sit for centuries. As you prepare or holiday celebrations, make sure you're not contributing to environmentally-damaging fast fashion.

Shop Secondhand or Vintage

One of the best ways to have a sustainable Christmas is to shop secondhand. You can find great deals on gently used items at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces. Not only will you save money, but you'll also be keeping items out of landfills and reducing your demand for new products that require energy and resources. You can find great secondhand and vintage items at your local thrift store, consignment shop, or an online marketplace like eBay or Etsy.

Shop Sustainable Clothing

So this year, why not choose sustainable clothing options? There are many sustainable fabric choices available these days, including cotton, wool, linen, and bamboo. And if you're looking for something festive and fun, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional holiday materials like sequins and glitter. So go ahead and have fun with your outfit choice – just be sure to make sustainability a part of it!

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Environmentalism is increasingly important as we become more aware of our impact on the planet. Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways that we can make our holiday celebrations more sustainable and eco-friendly. From switching to LED lights and shopping online instead of going to physical stores, there are plenty of small changes we can all make that will add up to a big difference for the environment! So let's all do our part this year and have a green holiday season!

By following these simple tips, you can have a green Christmas that's good for both you and the planet while still enjoying all the traditions you love. So get out there and enjoy the holiday season without worrying about the impact on Mother Earth!

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping
Greenspark Public Impact Profile