Tips for a Zero Waste Christmas Season

The holiday season is full of All The Things, right? And, with that often comes a lot of trash too. This consumer seasons often seen as a time when we can be a little more wasteful than usual because it only comes around once a year. But, when you remember the world’s trash situation, and we take our responsibility to care for the materials we’ve been entrusted with, it really makes sense to find ways to be less wasteful instead. So, if you’re singing the tune of wanting a zero waste Christmas this year, here are a few ways you can go about it without losing your mind.

Go Green with Wrapping Supplies: 

  • Keep a stash of bags, tissue, and ribbons from gifts you receive that are in good shape to reuse for future gifts. It also saves you a boatload of money on buying wrapping supplies.
  • Look for more unconventional items like fabric, pillowcases, tins, and cute boxes that you can decorate or dress up.
  • Use natural items like pine cones, twigs, or other natural items as decoration on your gifts.
  • Use old greeting cards or the backs of card stock paper to make custom gift tags.


Plan No Waste Meals

  • Use reusable dishes instead of disposable platters, plates, and cutlery. This is a great excuse to use that fancy china!
  • Cook the right amount of food so that you don’t waste a ton. If you cook the right amount, you won’t have a ton to potentially go to waste as leftovers in the back of your fridge. 
  • Buy fresh ingredients that come in minimal wrapping. Buy your meat from the counter or buy use fresh veggies that don’t come in a ton of plastic packaging.
  • Use cloth napkins. We actually started using cloth napkins everyday around our house, but holiday meals are a great time to try it out or to use festive cloth napkins. 

No Waste Decorating

  • Buy holiday decorations from thrift stories or garage sales. Find a great neighborhood near you that has good garage sales. I found a few near us that are always full of people selling holiday decorations. I bought our Christmas Tree for $5! 
  • Buy a real tree instead of plastic. Real Christmas trees can be mulched or decomposed as opposed to plastic trees that don’t break down for thousands of years. Bonus: if you live near me, we’ll take your old tree off your hand and our goats love to eat the needles and bark!
  • Popcorn garland. Think natural when you consider the decorations for your tree. If you can do something with berries and popcorn, why not? 
  • Focus on memorable decorations rather than the latest fad. Most of our holiday decorations have a story and have been collected year after year to add to the collection. We don’t buy a ton of new decorations each year, but instead display the ones that have personal memories for us. 

No Waste Gifts

  • Experiences. I still remember when my aunt took me to see Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast On Ice for my birthdays. I’ll always have that memory! Consider if there are any experiences you can create and do with your loved one. 
  • Homemade gifts. Are there things you know how to make that could be fun gifts? For me, I could make homemade soaps or dryer balls from our goat’s hair. Whenever I hear this suggestion, I also like to think through if the homemade items will actually be used. Even if it’s more sustainable, I still don’t like to add to clutter or create something that will go to waste.
  • Give practical gifts. Even if something has more wrapping that I’d like, or isn’t truly zero waste, but will be used by the recipient, I consider that a win. I never want to give a gift that will end up being a burden or end up in the trash. 
  • Food Gifts. Gifts that are consumable are some of the best minimal waste gifts because they truly get put to full use. You could give things you eat (jams, pastries, mixes, etc.) or something you drink (wine or spirits), giving something consumable can be a simple way to show you care and also not contribute to our world’s problem with trash.
  • Minimally Packaged Items. If you can’t find something that fits the other criteria, look for items that have minimal wrapping. It’s a simple mindset shift as you shop to look for items that have little to no packaging. 


Wanting to read more on zero waste living? Here are a few other articles you might like: