by Laura McIlwaine December 12, 2018

Typically stretching from mid-November through to early January, the season to be jolly is a far contrast from the season to be green.

In a society where consumerism is celebrated, Christmas and excess go hand in hand. There’s often an oversupply of food and drink, and for those of us with children in our lives, stacks of presents that can be played with once and discarded, or worse, broken shortly after receiving.

But that needn’t be the case.

You can enjoy a green Christmas without the wasteful trimmings and without being a party pooper. Often a little extra preparation and thinking outside the green box is all that’s needed for a more sustainable Christmas.

Here’s three ways to enjoy a green Christmas…..

1. Eco-fy Your Christmas Dinner

Choose a simpler, greener Christmas by trading the traditional meal with all the trimmings for a gourmet BBQ, picnic in the park or some plant-based dishes (to go lighter on the planet).

While it’s tempting and convenient to grab a packet of crisps or processed snacks when entertaining, try your hand at preparing platters of real foods such as fruit skewers, dips and chopped up veggies, salads and frittatas or cold meats. You’ll save a heap of packaging waste and do your waistline a favour too!

If you’re opting for a traditional meal, plan carefully to ensure you don’t over cater. Look for clever ways to transform leftovers into other meals after Christmas…. like a Christmas ham risotto or quiche, or turkey and roast vegetable frittata.  

If you’re a seafood lover, hunt out sustainable varieties and avoid deep-sea varieties which are caught using dredging techniques. Or give seafood a miss altogether …. worldwide fish stocks are already at crisis point.

Lastly, if you enjoy a glass of wine, beer or spirits, try the delicious and growing number of organically-produced beverages entering the market. They’re practically a health food, right?!!

2. Eco-fy Your Presents

The saying to ‘give your presence, not presents’ is really good food for thought in our modern, fast-paced world. Prioritise spending time and being fully present with those you love this Christmas and any physical gift will pale into insignificance.

Gifting experiences also encourages connection and spending time together. I’m a big fan of gifting and receiving experiences such as a gourmet cooking class or market tour, or tickets to sporting events (hello Boxing Day Test Cricket!), zoos, aquariums and concerts or musicals. By gifting an experience you’re helping to create memories rather than waste, plus support local businesses and organisations.

Other options for more sustainable gifts include:

  • Gift vouchers – these help to eliminate the problem of unwanted gifts as the recipient can choose what they like!
  • Donating to a charity – why not buy the person who has everything a goat?! Or more specifically, a family in a developing country a goat on their behalf!
  • Toys without batteries – those with batteries use 50 times more energy to produce than they give out and create a waste problem in themselves.
  • Homemade gifts – if you’re handy in the kitchen, on the sewing machine or with craft supplies (or anything for that matter!) consider making some gifts. Gifts such as homemade preserves, shortbread and even quilted Christmas pot holders are always well received. I generally put a day aside a couple of months before Christmas to make preserves. This takes the stress out of late November when I’m required to provide a thank you gift for teachers, dance instructors and the next door neighbour’s cat.

If you’re purchasing a physical gift, opt for quality over quantity and look for products that have been manufactured under fair-trade conditions using sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

When it comes to wrapping physical gifts, consider using bags that can be re-used, your child’s artwork (because who needs to keep 100 kindergarten paintings?) and avoiding foil wraps that can’t be recycled. If using new gift wrap, choose paper that’s made from 100% post-consumer waste.

And as for gifts from Santa, buy a Christmas pillow case for each child that can be used as a Santa-sack. The elves are too busy making toys to have time to wrap gifts after all!

 3. Eco-fy your Decorations

There’s something special and exciting about decorating our homes at Christmas time. Tree lights blinking through windows, wreaths on doors and full-blown Christmas lights covering the roof all help build the excitement of the season.

You don’t have to go without decorations and have the blandest house in the street to be greener in this area. It’s really about making better choices and opting for quality decorations that you can use year after year.

Try your hand at making your own decorations, whether its eco-friendly bon-bons on the Christmas table to the wreath on your door, and opt for Christmas lights made with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are much more energy-efficient than standard globes. Rather than buying a new, live Christmas tree each year or using a synthetic one, considering buying a live tree in a pot that you can decorate time and time again.

If lighting up your yard or roof, also choose solar-powered lights or LEDs and remember to turn them off when you go to bed. Santa will still find you!


Final Thoughts

When navigating your way through the silly season try to remember that less is definitely more.

Cut the excess and you’ll reduce the stress and enjoy the season without a hefty dose of green guilt!

Seasons Greenings!


About the Author:

Laura Trotta is an experienced environmental engineer, award-winning sustainable living educator and the founder of Sustainahome. Fusing her professional expertise as an environmental professional with the down-to-earth pragmatism that comes from being a busy mum, Laura is an eco thought leader who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo.

Laura McIlwaine
Laura McIlwaine

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Stay In the Loop!