Skip to main content

How to have a sustainable Christmas

This Christmas, we invite you to deck the halls with boughs of holly — and other sustainable, biodegradable decorations! Christmas can be an environmentally friendly affair with a few conscious choices to help you cut down your waste and plastic, reduce your carbon footprint, and keep the spirit of generosity alive by ‘giving back’ to the planet.

Sustainable gift-giving

The golden rule of sustainable gift-buying is to shop local. The closer the shop, the less energy required to get the item to you. Beyond the environmental issues, it’s always a good idea to support local Whittlesea business, and there are plenty of places to buy unique gifts in our City. A great way to find unique gifts is to attend one of our local markets — check the Whittlesea Tourism website for a list of markets. Put thought into your gifts to ensure they aren’t going to end up unwanted or thrown out and, if you can, choose high-quality products that are going to last instead of cheaper items of a low quality that have a shorter lifespan.

Consider giving a gift from the below eco-friendly options:

  • Flowers (or a potted plant). You can even grow these yourself. When choosing a bouquet of flowers, choose in-season, locally grown varieties wherever you can to reduce your carbon footprint. A potted plant is a great gift that will keep on giving over many years, and may even improve your recipient’s air quality if it’s an indoor plant.
  • Edible gifts. Gifts from the kitchen are always welcome, particularly at a time of year when we all like to indulge. Homemade gifts not only feel that bit more personal and meaningful but are a great way to maximise your budget.
  • Experiences. Give the gift of a massage or a voucher for a special restaurant.

Also consider the amount of packaging that’s included with any gift purchases, particularly children’s toys. Choose sustainable options or companies wherever possible and take note of which packaging is labelled as recyclable. And if you’re given a new phone or gadget for Christmas, make sure you recycle your old one so that it doesn’t end up as harmful ‘e-waste’ in landfill. You can drop off old phones, cameras and other gadgets at the Recycling Stations located at our libraries and Council facilities. Visit our Recycling Facilities page to learn more.

Wrapping presents

In Japan, ‘furoshiki’ is the art of wrapping gifts (and other items) with coloured and patterned fabric, and has been popular in the country for over 1200 years. Instead of buying disposable wrapping paper this year, buy locally or make your own reusable fabric wrap in your favourite festive colours. Tie a knot to secure or make a bow with twine or ribbon.

The best part about using the furoshiki method is that the wrap is part of the gift. Your recipient can re-use the fabric for their next gift, thereby becoming part of a green ‘circular economy’ which differs from the unsustainable ‘take-make-waste’ model.

Christmas card options

It’s become popular to send Christmas e-cards to your nearest and dearest, but if that’s not quite your thing, there are a few other eco-friendly options. A novel idea which has taken off in recent years is plantable cards. There are several online retailers selling these including some in Victoria. Not only is the paper biodegradable, but the cards contain seeds. Just plant the card when you’re finished with it, let the paper decompose and wait for the seeds to grow into plants. Win-win!

What could be greener than a tree?

A real tree, that is! If you have always used a plastic-based Christmas tree, this is the year to discover the magic of gathering around a living tree on Christmas eve.

If you aren’t able to buy a large living tree, a smaller potted tree (perhaps one you already own) will do just as well with a bit of creative decorating. Use coloured paper, wool or wood to avoid plastic decorations, and if you already own plastic tinsel, take good care of it to ensure it will last a long time.

Light up your Christmas, the green way

There are now plenty of fun, LED energy-saving lights available for your home or Christmas tree. LED lights use between 80-90% less energy than traditional light bulbs.

Remember to turn off your lights before heading to bed or if you are away from home, and keep in mind that non-flashing LED lights are the most energy-efficient option. This tip has the nice bonus of saving you money!

Great meals without the waste

Sprawling family feasts are a highly recommended way to spend your Christmas day, but you can still avoid wasting food by keeping mindful of waste. The first step is to prepare the amount of food you think you’ll actually need. Next, keep or give away leftovers and put soiled food in the compost or your food and garden waste bin, rather than the garbage bin. You can also visit Love Food Hate Waste for recipe ideas (search 'Christmas' in recipes) and get creative with your Christmas leftovers.

If you’re going to enjoy seafood on the day, make sure to choose locally sourced fish which is best for the environment. Visit Sustainable Seafood and check out their Sustainable Seafood Guide.

For more tips to help you cut your waste beyond the festive season, visit Council's ‘How to reduce your rubbish’ page.