How to Have a Zero Waste Christmas Without Missing Out on the Festivities!

zero waste christmas

Christmas and excess go hand in hand these days. 

Whether it’s the Christmas foods that appear in the supermarkets in September or the constant advertising telling you which presents you have to buy your loved ones. 

It’s hard to have a lowkey Christmas without feeling like you’re not celebrating it ‘right’. 

Thankfully, there are ways to have a successful zero waste Christmas. You won’t have to worry about being wasteful or bankrupting yourself. Doesn’t that sound perfect? 

Why Should I Want a Zero Waste Christmas?

It’s not likely to come as a surprise that Christmas is one of the most wasteful times of the year.

It’s estimated that in Britain, 108 million rolls of wrapping paper and 54 million plates of food were binned over Christmas 2017.

What’s more, 70% of us admit to buying far more food than we need. Two thirds of us say that at least some turkey usually ends up in the bin.

Things don’t have to be this way. Many of us are turning to a greener way of living in light of the escalating climate crisis. So there’s never been a better time to reduce our footprint during the festive season.

Here’s how to enjoy a kinder, more thoughtful and zero waste Christmas.

christmas gift using recycled wrappers

Deck the Halls With Zero Waste Christmas Decorations

What better way of getting into the festive spirit than decorating your home? 

Unfortunately, many decorations are made from plastic or are covered in glitter (a microplastic).

But it’s entirely possible to decorate without plastic.

Take Your Cue From Nature

There are plenty of ways you can bring nature into your home to give it a Christmassy-feel. 

Pinecones make great Christmas tree decorations. As do holly, ivy, twigs and small branches from the garden. 

Use decorations that you already have to weave in amongst your outdoor treasures. Throwing things away that are still fit for purpose is the antithesis of zero waste living anyway.


Grab our PDF guide with 104 ways to reduce your plastic at home.

You’ll find tons of tips for refusing, reducing, swapping, recycling, replacing and SO much more!

Buy Second Hand

Why waste money buying new decorations when you can get them for a fraction of the price from a charity shop? 

What’s more, you’ll be giving those decorations an extended lease of life. And you’ll be saving them from going to landfill – a win-win.

Make Your Christmas Tree Even More Green 

The Christmas tree is the biggest single decoration you’ll put up in your home this Christmas. There are lots of different eco options  – from wooden replicas to real ones.

If you’re committed to a zero waste Christmas, the good news is you can still have a sustainable Christmas tree.

zero waste christmas decorations

Waste Not, Want Not: Having a Zero Waste Christmas Dinner

Food and gifts are the two biggest areas that it’s easy to go overboard with at Christmas.

In years past, I’ve bought enough food to feed the whole street for a week when all I really needed was enough for my family for two days.

It can feel like you’re missing out if you cut back on the amount of food you buy over Christmas. But you can still have a delicious Christmas dinner and all the trimmings, without being wasteful.

Here are some simple ways to cut back without compromising on quality:

  • Making your own food and treats (Christmas brownies anyone?)
  • Buying locally sourced produce that’s in season
  • Checking out your local farmer’s market
  • Having an honest look at how much food you actually need to get through the holidays

You may even decide to skip the roast turkey altogether and opt for a more sustainable Christmas dinner

Whether you keep meat in your meal plan or opt for a vegetarian or vegan feast, the key to zero waste is using up your leftovers. 

There are lots of inventive ways to pimp up leftover Christmas turkey or leftover Christmas vegetables

The idea is to limit how much food goes in the bin (with the dream scenario being none!)

zero waste christmas dinner

Getting Crafty: Zero Waste Christmas Present Ideas 

Christmas gifts are problematic at the best of times. Stressing over what to buy is difficult enough. Adding an eco element can pile on the pressure. 

Or you end up with unwanted gifts and stocking fillers that’ll be thrown away before Boxing Day is over. But there are ways out of this cycle.

Giving Zero Waste Christmas PResents 

  • Make (or bake!) a present for someone
  • Buy someone an experience for memories they’ll cherish for years, rather than a physical gift
  • Chip in with others to buy someone a single, meaningful present that they’ll truly appreciate

The Issue of the Unwanted Gift 

You can’t always control what people will buy you for Christmas. Try telling loved ones that you’re reducing waste and want to cut out unnecessary gift giving.

Hopefully, they’ll respect your wishes and not be wasteful in their gift choices.

If your friends and family ask for ideas on what to give you, some of the ideas above may appeal. Or you could ask that they make a donation to your preferred charity.

christmas baked goodies

Small Changes for a Greener Christmas, and a Greener Planet  

It’s difficult to have a Christmas with zero waste. But zero waste is just as much a mindset as it is a goal. 

There are plenty of ways you can reduce waste over the festive season. All without compromising on the festivities. The best way to reduce waste is to stop buying new things, especially if they’re made from plastic.

Concentrate on longer term or more thoughtful gifts, and try to reduce food waste.

If you do end up with some waste, try to either reuse or recycle the material, rather than send it to landfill. Ultimately, any waste reduction is better than none at all!

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