A Green eco-friendly Christmas: Eco friendly Christmas gift and decoration inspirations
Christmas is coming soon.
And its coming every year in December. And every year the malls and online shops are getting overcrowded and hectic the few weeks before. People are spending heaps of money for a lot of gifts (approx $75 Billion in the US). They are buying a lot of new decorations because they threw out the old one or just want something new. And after Christmas (Or any other Holiday) you mostly have a huge amount of plastic and gift wrap trash in your house.
I actually love the weeks before Christmas. All the lights and decorations in the city (and yes I know all the energy and stuff (be careful at home and get some energy saving lights)… but I still really enjoy the lights;).
What I don’t like, and never have really, all the stress and crowds in the city and malls before Christmas.. Everybody seems so stressed and in need to find a lot of gifts for everybody….
It seems like we have forgotten what Christmas is actually all about.
Isn’t Christmas about family, friends, love, peace? To spend time with your loved ones should be the important factor, not to become more and more gifts? You can’t buy love right?
Do you agree and want to make it different this year?
You don’t want to buy another toxic plastic toy or another pair of polyester socks, or another thing that might just get left in a dark corner or get dusty on the shelf?
You like to decorate but don’t want to buy more plastic stuff or want to switch to natural decorations?
Great, welcome on board, I have some suggestions and inspiration for you.
I haven’t bought any material gifts for my loved ones in the past years and we didn’t miss anything.
So lets go, I hope I can inspire you to make an eco friendly, plastic free Christmas this year.
Low-Waste on Christmas markets
Most christmas markets (like street food markets) only provide single-use plastic cups, paper cups lined with plastic, plastic utensils, styrofoam container/plastic plates/paper plates lined with plastic for food and plastic bags for sweets…
On most German Christmas markets you will find glass cups for Glühwein/mulled wine. You pay a deposit and then you either bring the cup back and get the money back, or you can chose to keep the cup… Most of them have a date and the city name on them so a few people like to keep them as a souvenir.
So what to do if you like to keep your Christmas Market Visit low waste?
- Bring an insulated reusable cup
- Bring a reusable plate or foldable container for food
- Bring reusable cutlery and a reusable napkin
- Bring a reusable bag in case you do some Christmas Market Shopping. On very nice markets you will find a lot of local handcraft, natural cosmetics, etc. so actually a good place to do some Christmas shopping.
Plastic Free decorations:
- Keep it simple! Its easy and beautiful to use natural materials. Most things you might just find outdoors for free on a walk or in a nice flower decoration shop. Use cinnamon, anise, dried flowers, or fir branches. Use natural fabrics (linen, hemp, cotton) and ribbons made of natural materials.
- Find second hand decorations in OP shops/second hand shops/or flea markets.
- If you want to buy new, make sure to buy good quality decoration made of wood, bamboo, glass, aluminium. They will last you for the next couple of years.
- Avoid too many outdoor lights to save money and energy or get some solar powered Christmas lights.
- The production of candles is mostly not environmental friendly. If you wont give them up chose organic soy candles made of soy wax and in glass or reusable containers. Or buy LED candles. They look kind of like candles, are long lasting (10,500 hours), saves money and theres no possibility of fire. And if you use rechargeable batteries even better.
- Avoid fake snow or other tiny lightweight stuff made of plastic. You use it once, throw it away, and these tiny plastic fibers are dangerous if children or animals accidentally eat them or even breath them in.
Real tree or fake tree?
You will find a lot of different answers if you ask different people. Some say its better to get a fake Christmas tree because its not cool to cut down trees. Other will say get a real tree because its a renewable and recyclable source. Real Tree vs Fake Tree.
- Most fake trees will be made of plastic so out of a non renewable resource. You might need to get a new fake tree every few years, sending the old one to an incineration facility or landfill.
- They will also loose their plastic needles after a while. Tiny micro plastics that needs to get disposed of responsibly.
- The problem with plastic trees: most of them are made in Asia/China. You’ll never know exactly what theyre made out of, how many toxins get into wild waters, how much workers are getting in contact with toxins, if your tree will release toxins into your air, etc.
- If you want to have a fake tree make sure its made of non plastic materials like steel, or recycled wood. Get creative and make your own.
- It’s sometimes also possible to get a bigger tree with roots in a pot so you can plant it in the ground after Christmas is over (or donate to a park). Or get a small one in a pot (also with roots) and keep it in your house until next year. They don’t grow too quick so you can have it for a few years.
- It is also more and more popular to rent a real Christmas tree. They get delivered in a pot and then planted again so it can live and grow in real soil until next Christmas. So go research if that is possible in your city already.
- Like other trees, Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen into the air. Also on Christmas tree farms they actually give wildlife shelter and also provide habitat to small pollinators and bees.
- Most communities/cities offer a recycling program for trees. I know about cities who collect them for the Zoo or other parks with wildlife animals. Or they use them to make mulch for gardens and parks. If your city don’t have any kind of collection make sure the tree gets composted. Maybe a garden center around the corner is happy to take it.
As usual, you need to make your own decision. Think about the pros and cons and make your own happy choice. And if you still have a fake tree thats good to use, use it until it breaks.
Christmas gift ideas
My favorite gift:Time or experiences!
Whats more beautiful and important than spending time with people you love and experience something together.
- A Thai(or other cuisine) Cooking Class you’ll participate together.
- A night where you cook a 3 course meal and you sit together and play some games.
- A day at the spa.
- A weekend trip to somewhere you always wanted to go.
- A ski or snowboard class.
- A Bungee jump 😉
- A Rock’n Rolldancing class.
You know your family and friends, so you´ll might exactly know what they would love to do!
If you like to be creative, if you can sew or paint or cook thats a perfect thing for a great gift.
- Paint a picture.
- Sew something like a reusable bag, pillow case (try to use second hand fabrics and organic materials)
- Knit a scarf or gloves
- Make the favorite cake, cookies or make a cookie mix (only the dry ingredients) and fill it into a nice jar with a card what else you need to finish the cookies.
- Make some beauty products yourself and use some nice tiny glass container. There are a lot of tutorials out there.
Theres an endless list with stuff you can create yourself.
If you still want to buy gifts, make some eco friendly choices. There is always the choice between a product made from organic and fair brands or from unfair and environmental unfriendly ones or between a trashy product and a classy one.
- Look out for second hand gifts in thrift stores or flea markets.
- Opt for natural organic materials and leave all the plastic in the stores.
- Buy from local artists or craftmen.
- Buy reusable gifts to make a low waste life easier for your friends.
- Opt for products people really can use. A useful gift is not a useless gift.
- Gift food! One of my favorites 😉 If you don’t like to make it yourself, buy a good product, maybe vegan chocolate.
- Buy organic beauty products or sustainable fashion.
- Buy in fair and organic stores. If you buy online ask for no plastic and tell them why you want to avoid it, or order in known plastic free shops. (Like the packagefreeshop or LifeWithoutPlastic)
- Donate in the name of your friend to a social or environmental Organization she/he likes.
- Buy a Bracelet from 4Oceans to remove trash from the ocean.
- You could also “adopt” a wildlife animal to make sure their surroundings will stay safe.
- You could buy a star or buy a piece of rain forest.
- Or gift yourself a volunteer travel to help sea turtles.
5 inspirations for eco friendly Christmas gifts:
Organic Shampoo or Soap bars.
So many great fragrances and options out there! Take a look at a local shop first, if you can’t find anything, look online.
A nice Body Oil
I love the body oils from Weleda**. They come in a glass bottle, are natural and the smells are amazing!
A reusable bottle.
I love my stainless steel bottle and also gifted a klean kanteen bottle** to my dad last year, he loves it 🙂
A great gift for friends that travel, are into sports or need to drive a longer way to work.
Organic beauty products are a great idea for a gift. It shows you care about your friends health and like to gift great quality. You could even make some yourself, or buy some reusable make up remover pads** as an extra gift.
Or make some beauty products like a body scrub or lip balm yourself.
Active wear or organic underwear
Since a lot of sustainable, organic products are a little more expensive I really appreciate to get that kind of gifts if I need new clothings.
If you have a friend or you know your partner is on a budget at the moment but you know he or she needs new active wear or you like to gift nice basics, take a look for organic, fair fashion as a great xmas gift.
What about gift wrapping?
- Don´t buy fancy single use gift wrap paper. Use what you have. An old newspaper? A magazine? Some old nice fabrics? Wrap the gift with a nice cloth in bento style.
- Or just wrap a ribbon around plus a nice tree branch and use no wrapper at all. If you want to use gift wrap paper look out for recycled paper or keep the gift wrap from this year (if you get some wrapped gifts) to use next year.
- Instead of normal tape you could use plastic free tape*.
- Use Christmas cards from last year to make small Gift Cards or reuse old carton.
- If you don’t use plastic tape but just a ribbon it won’t get broken and you can easily reuse the paper next year again!!
- Check Pinterest for more inspiration.
To avoid Food Waste, make a shopping list of what you really need. If you are cooking for more than just one day make sure you can use some of the stuff you cooked the day before. Make fried potatoes if you have cooked potatoes left, make some fried rice if theres cooked rice left, soup from leftover veggies, etc.
Or make sure to freeze and store leftovers in the fridge.
If you have the possibility to donate food in the neighborhood or homeless shelters do it! Theres always a better alternative than throwing eatable food into the bin.
Find some recipe inspirations here-> Plantbased Recipes
You can´t buy happiness in a store!
True Happiness can’t be bought in a store. True Happiness is something else, and its different from one to another. It might be when you are surrounded by your loved ones. Or if you are relaxed and enjoying to do nothing, or just reading a book listening to music. A walk in the snow (or on the beach). Being grateful for your health. So think twice before buying a fancy gift for somebody. A better gift could be something else than a material one.
Just Try to make it simple and don’t get stressed. The Christmas Holidays should be a time of joy and quality time with your loved ones. Its the “most beautiful time of the year” according to Andy Williams. And it doesn’t matter if its a religious holiday for you or not. If you celebrate love, family and friends it will become a more eco friendly holiday easy!
Feel free to share more inspirations in the comments about your favorite plastic free/zero waste/ eco friendly gifts.
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