'Tis the season for excess but here are seven simple ways to have a greener, more eco-friendly holiday at home

Christmas is generally the season for indulgence—plenty of food, plenty of decoration, plenty of presents... and plenty of waste. 

This year is a good time as any to attempt to create less waste and strive for a more eco-friendly and sustainable Christmas.

While we are all aware of just how important it is to make every effort we can to be more sustainable, for many of us, that starts at home. Small changes can make all the difference in reducing our carbon footprint.

With this in mind, here are seven simple ways to have a  more eco-friendly holiday at home. Make it a new family tradition to go green.

 

1. Make a homemade advent calendar

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Above A simple but effective homemade advent calendar (Photo: Dari Ili/Unsplash
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Above A reusable advent calendar (Photo: David Olivier/Unsplash)

Advent calendars are a beloved tradition but they are also generally mass-produced and full of plastic and random bits and bobs. 

Consider instead low-waste advent calendars made of wood or a homemade treats calendar.

Another idea is swapping traditional advent calendars for doing an activity every day.

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2. Get creative with the gift wrapping

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Cropped hands of unrecognizable woman puts Christmas present in wooden crate, wrapped Christmas gifts from organic recycling materials.
Above Christmas gifts wrapped in organic recycling materials (Photo: iStock)

As you might expect, much of the paper waste produced during Christmas comes from present wrappers.

Reducing this just takes some extra thought. For starters, use paper tape instead of the normal sticky tape or use recycled brown paper and tie it up with colourful yarn.

Alternatively, wrap your presents with other forms of wrapping like burlap, paper bags or fabric. For awkwardly shaped gifts, consider placing them in a basket or a box.

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3. Gift edible presents

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Above Homemade cookies in jars are a lovely gift (Photo: Anna Peipina/Unsplash)

Gift-giving is one of the joys of the festive season but often, finding the right gift is a challenge due to budget constraints or simply not being sure about the receiver's personal preferences.

Instead of gifts that may be abandoned in a drawer or cupboard, consider giving edible gifts. From homemade biscuits and cakes to jams and tarts, these consumable gifts will be enjoyed and are thoughtful to boot.

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4. Fashion your own Christmas crackers

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Above Make your own Christmas crackers with paper and ribbon (Photo: Nick Fewings/Unsplash)

Christmas crackers add to the festive spirit, but most of them are filled with small toys made from plastic that inevitably end up in a landfill.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have Christmas crackers, especially if you make your own. Not only are they easy to make, you can also fill them up with anything you like.

If that's too much effort, consider buying crackers with plastic-free gifts like chocolates or other goodies. Look also for reusable crackers made from fabric.  

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5. Rethink your Christmas tree

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Above Buy your Christmas tree in a pot

The central protagonist of any festive celebration is the Christmas tree. While the trend now is to use a real tree, many of these trees are not properly disposed of after celebrations.

To avoid this, buy one in a pot so that after Christmas, you can add it to your garden. Better still, get a fake tree and use it for as many years as possible.
Wooden or metal trees may not be traditional but they are recyclable.

Decoration-wise, consider making your own for a charming, handcrafted look and use natural materials like dried grasses and berries. Buy LED Christmas lights for the finishing touch.

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6. A mindful Christmas feast

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Thanksgiving Roast Turkey Dinner

The part of the celebration most of us look forward to is the Christmas feast, but this does not have to be an over-indulgent bacchanal.

Consider scaling back to fewer items but with better quality when planning the meal. Not only will this please your guests, it will also reduce food waste. Also, consider nixing unnecessary condiments. For example, if only one person likes cranberry sauce, don't buy a whole tin of it. Instead, get a smaller jar or a substitute that more guests can enjoy.

In the days leading up to Christmas, start eating what's in your fridge and freezer to free up more space for your leftovers. Surplus turkey and ham can be sliced, then wrapped in parchment and frozen.

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7. Start composting

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Above Compost for a healthy garden

If you haven't started composting, Christmas is a great time to do so. This will give good use to all the discarded eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps. Not to mention brown materials like paper and cardboard.

All these can be used in your garden if you compost them, as they break down into the soil. Plus, it’s easy and saves a lot of waste from going into the bin.

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