5 simple steps for a Sustainable Christmas
Christmas is a time of plenty, plenty of visiting with friends and family, plenty of food and drink, plenty of music and dancing, and plenty of wrapping and gifts – and we love it!
With all of this “plenty”, there can be lots of waste, and with a sustainable Christmas becoming top of mind for more and more families, we wanted to take a closer look at keeping the plenty while reducing the waste.
But first, what is a sustainable Christmas exactly? We mean the fun and festive Christmas that we all know and love but with less less waste, less non-recyclable materials, and a smaller environmental (Santa-sized) foot print.
1. Reduce Wrapping
It’s a fact, we can’t not wrap gifts, our brains fire with excitement when predicting from an endless list of possibilities (that fit the size, shape, and weight of the wrapped gift you’re holding) of what could be under that wrapping paper!
There are even studies showing that nicely wrapped gifts are more greatly appreciated at the moment than not (though we’re sure a new car with simple a bow on it may buck this trend.)
Here are some ideas for sustainable Christmas wrapping:
Recycled and recyclable wrapping paper
This is the best way to keep your Christmas morning the way you remember it as a child while being sustainable at the same time. Canadians get through roughly 250,000 TONS of plastic packaging each Christmas but luckily for us, there are TONS of eco-friendly wrapping options out there too! Like this reusable wrapping from Indigo, or the recycled-material wrapping paper from CB2 – a sustainable Christmas doesn’t have to be a dull one!
Reuse gift bags
100% Recyclable & reusable wrapping (minus the strings)
This is an easy one, put aside gift bags that you have received to keep them in good, reusable condition. Another benefit of gift bags is they are most often used with tissue paper which is 100% recyclable!
Reuse wrapping paper
This one is a little harder, if you can resist tearing into your gifts first thing on Christmas morning then perhaps you can also be savvy with how you open your wrapping paper, putting this aside too so that it can be reused.
Ribbons and bows tend not to be recyclable, so try to avoid them or keep and reuse those as well!
Versatile wrapping paper
Huge rolls of wrapping paper often don’t get used up, which is also very wasteful. To avoid this happening, find wrapping paper that can pass for any occasion. Most gifting occasions outside of Christmas don’t call for any particular pattern, and by choosing one with just a little shine or shimmer, you’re good to go for Christmas too! This will help you use up all of the wrapping paper and reduce waste.
And with Canadians going through about 6 million roles of tape each Christmas, you might consider learning to wrap without it!
2. Make your own ornaments
For a fun and festive project with your kids, friends, and loved ones, why not make your own sustainable Christmas decorations for around the house and ornaments for the tree?
It’s tons of fun, especially for little ones, and can become an annual tradition for your family and friends! Doing this every year ensures that your ornaments are new, fresh, and always uniquely yours. Another bonus of ornament making is that you can easily replace anything that breaks – and have fun doing it!
Given the delicate nature of traditional baubles and the perilous heights from which they hang, on at best, a modest twig, it can be less distressing to hang your homemade (and sustainable!) Christmas decorations and ornaments on the tree.
When you make your own, you decide what to make, and homemade decorations can be made to be much stronger and be less at risk of shattering on the floor below if they should fall.
3. Ditch single-use plastic
With Canada planning to ban 6 single-use plastic items, let’s start now and be ahead of the curve. However, rules and guidelines for recycling different types of plastic can be confusing, so let’s keep it simple this year and avoid plastic whenever we can.
There will be lots of occasions when we are spending time with others, enjoying food and maybe a little coconut-based eggnog; try to keep plastic cups and cutlery away from these festive get-togethers, and paper napkins too!
Another item to try to avoid is cheap “single-season” decorations. They can be handy in a pinch and sometimes have their place but always look for durability, timeliness, and good quality for sustainable Christmas decorations that won’t end up in the bin on January 1st.
A classic scene from the film but, with all the packaging that lots of products are already wrapped in, try to minimize plastic when you’re wrapping, or when getting gifts wrapped even in the “flashiest of flashes.”
And on that note, you can minimize plastic used in your gifts too when you give an eGift card with Moola to make this a sustainable Christmas. See it as 100% carbon-neutral gift-giving from the time of your purchase, to them receiving it at your scheduled time on Christmas morning. 🎄
4. Maximize Food
We’ve all had to throw out food after a big Christmas dinner at some point, which can feel very wasteful and even sad, especially after all the time and care that was put into making it. In fact, Canadians already huge food wastage increases by 25% over the holidays!
But fear not, Moola has you covered, we’re working on a Christmas Leftover Recipes article, coming soon! From leftover pie dough, to delicious Turkey Soup, and, our favorite, Fried Mash Potato Balls, check back soon.
And check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Baking for 2021, white chocolate Nanaimo Bars anyone? 👈👈👈
Keeping it fresh
To make sure you actually have leftovers to make these delicious recipes with, make sure you are storing your food correctly. Do you know what the crisper in your fridge is really for? Or what the humidity settings are designed to do? Find the answers and a super helpful food storage article from LoveFoodHateWaste. They have great tips on keeping things fresher for longer, including wine, which should be re-corked after every pour, who knew?
We also have a mind-blowing article on surprising foods you can freeze, cooked pasta, WHAAAT?!
5. Sustainable Christmas Gifts
What’s inside your sustainable Christmas wrapping counts too, in a big way. When you’re thinking of gifts for your loved ones this year, think about gifts that have a long shelf life and that your recipient will get a lot of use out of.
Think experiences and services
Better yet, service and experience gifts are a great way to reduce waste! Experiences like a hotel stay, a spa day or, a home service like We Do Laundry or, food delivery like goodfood are sustainable gifts that truly keep on giving.
Also, take a moment and rethink gifts for the sake of giving, or joke gifts, these items were ultimately made using the earth’s resources and are likely to end up in the trash. Lots of special items and gift sets crop up around the holidays which are great, but make sure whoever they are intended for will truly appreciate them so that they won’t go to waste.
More sustainable gift ideas
And lastly, as we touched on earlier, giving an eGift card is yet another way to avoid waste, use the Moola app to buy your gifts and schedule them for delivery to your friends and family whenever you’d like to deliver them, from phone to phone, no plastic cards or physical items at all.
(Non-Plastic) Sustainable Christmas Wrapping
So be merry, wrap presents and give to your heart’s content, start a tradition of home-made sustainable Christmas decorations, and enjoy more of your leftovers in a more sustainable way with these tips for a sustainable Christmas.
Every little effort helps to prevent waste and use less plastic. We’re always looking at ways to help our beloved planet, check out our Alternative to Plastic Gift Cards or Eating Healthy on a Budget and check back regularly for more from Moola.