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Christmas. People have some strong ideas about how Christmas should be, and they don’t always fit in with the eco-friendly vision you have for your home. From the tree to the eggnog Christmas traditions are tough to tackle.
Christmas time has become synonymous with excess, and with excess comes waste. An eco-friendly Christmas not only contributes to a happier earth, but can also impact your whole family experience.
Creating an eco-friendly experience often asks us to re-educate and get creative with ourselves and our family. Traditions don’t need to change but they may undergo a tweak. So how can we keep the Christmas atmosphere alive with an eco-friendly spin?
- Hire a Tree
The most important decoration of all? The tree! It’s hardly a decoration and more of a centerpiece. The classic choice has always been the plastic tree. It’s durable and can be used over and over. But of course, we are avoiding plastic.
Your next thought might be to buy a natural tree. Although this sounds organic it actually leads to a lot of waste, not to mention the cost! Trees are bought in their millions each Christmas. That’s only the trees that get bought, think of the production that goes behind it.
A lot of nurseries are beginning to hire out trees. This means you can have the perfect tree over the Christmas period, and then return it to it’s loving home. Thus the cycle of Christmas, nor the tree, are interrupted!
- Decoration Making as a Family Craft Project
Depending on where you are in the country, you will have access to different natural materials. A scavenger hunt for Christmas decorations like pinecones can be fun in warmer places.
Another great activity is to dry out fruit. With your pinecones, or dried fruit, or both, you can create beautiful Christmas themed decorations that will fill your home with Christmas spirit.
You spend so long at the store looking for the perfect card, it’s never exactly what you are trying to say and 9/10 times will find its way to the trash at some point.
Why not create an ecard with an ecard template, or design your own PDF?
Yes, there was a time that this was only possible with real IT knowledge, but now, with free photo libraries and tools like Canva, anyone can seem like a photoshop expert. Or at the very least, get their Christmas wishes out there without contributing to landfill.
You will use paper. It’s inevitable. But it’s how you use the paper that can define your Christmas. Use recycled paper and scraps to switch out your PVC Plastic tinsel with paper chains.
Scrap paper of different sizes can also be a great origami exercise. Swap out your turtle doves for origami ones!
Lights are of course a staple of Christmas. Make sure that you’re using LED lights for minimum carbon impact. You can also set your lights to a timer to minimize energy usage.
Making your Christmas meal a pot-luck means a lot more communication, that’s for sure. But it also means that every person feels a part of the experience and leads to less waste.
How? When each person, or family, is responsible for their share, they are able to concentrate on their dish rather than overspending and overextending. The burden of the entire meal is lifted from the host and everyone contributes what they can, no more, no less.
- Buy Organic
Ultimately, cutting out meat is the biggest impact you could make on your environmental footprint this Christmas. There are great organic, vegan recipes available. Of course, Christmas means the coming together of a lot of different people, and this may not be possible in your home.
If that’s the case, the next best step is buying organic. Be on the look-out for organically farmed meats, preferably small farmed meats.
Meal planning is a wonderful way to keep yourself sane. Simple as that. Other than your own sanity that comes with knowing what is accounted for, it allows you to project leftover meals.
Just like the thanksgiving sandwich uses left-overs, you can do the same with your Christmas meals. Except when it’s planned, it’s not leftovers, it’s just strategic thinking.
Re-Use, Recycle, Repurpose
- Get Thrifty
You’d be surprised what you can find in thrift stores. Of course, you will find something perfect for your best friend who appreciates a good story and the thrifty spirit.
But you may also find a solid piece of sporting equipment for your friend who has never set foot in a store without the word ‘super’ in it. At the end of the day, everyone loves being thought of.
- Get Creative with Gift Wrapping
It’s not only gifts that are reserved for the storytelling. A current trend is scarf wrapping. Of course, you can use butcher’s paper, or scrap paper, both are great eco-friendly options. Sometimes you do want that pop of color, though.
And that’s where scarves come in. It’s also a reusable wrapping and adds to the gift itself. If that’s a little too much, you can also use an old map for that extra pop of color.
- Clean up
You may already have a recycling system set up in your home, but recycling is always more difficult the more people there are. And more difficult yet, when you aren’t all on the same page. Tackle it head-on before your guests arrive.
Try and weave your recycling system into your decorations. Don’t limit your decorations to your living room or doorway, bring them through to the kitchen and bathroom. Make themed signs marking places for glass, paper and plastics, and whatever practices you have in your home.
Find out what’s going on in your local community; Pot-lucks, food-drives, activities. Finding support through your community to create an eco-friendly environment means that you are more likely to stick to your eco-friendly resolution, without sacrificing the Christmas spirit. The more the merrier at the merriest time of year!
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.